We’re in London now where the RAC Future Car Challenge 2011 finished yesterday. The 64 cars, which included the best electric powered and alternative fuel green vehicles around, started the 92 km journey from Brighton to London, where the challenge ended at Pall Mall. All contestants then drove to a blocked off Regent Street, where the cars of tomorrow parked back-to-back to with the cars from the good old days.

The vintage cars, some over 100 years old, were in town to participate in the annual London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, and got plenty of attention from the locals and tourists alike. Even better, many of their owners were dressed to match the period in which their cars roamed the streets. A sight to behold, but also much white engine smoke to inhale!

A gallery post on that when I return home. After a few hours to collate the results, we all gathered at the prize giving gala dinner at the RAC’s grand old building in Pall Mall. Our table, the only Asians in the room, had plenty to celebrate, after it was announced that Proton won two awards – the Most Efficient Multi-Purpose Car (Prototype) and the Best Overall Extended-Range Vehicle (E-REV). Both were courtesy of the Exora REEV. The Best E-REV award was shared with the Toyota Prius Plug In Hybrid.

The Best Overall Entry award went to the Gordon Murray Design T.27 Electric Car, which also won the Best Overall Pure EV award and the Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Prototype) title. If you don’t know, the flower shirt-loving Gordon Murray is the designer of the legendary McLaren F1 – the man drove his own creation, and you can find him in our gallery. Also spotted at the race were Damon Hill and veteran motoring hack Steve Cropley – regular Autocar readers should know the latter.

Another big winner is the already on sale Nissan Leaf EV, which won the Most Energy Efficient Regular Car (Production) and the Best Overall Vehicle On Sale today accolades. The best ICE vehicle went to the Mini Cooper Diesel, although it didn’t have much company since most were EVs or E-REVs.

Earlier in the day, we were at the Pall Mall finish line to greet the cars, and the Persona REEV was the first of Proton’s three entries to cross the line. Driver and lead engineer of the Malaysian assembled effort, Muhd Zulfadzli, was very happy with the drive. Their strategy worked to perfection and they arrived with 8 mins to spare. The Wankel engine kicked in for 4.5 mins after the car exhausted all its battery charge. As comparison, last year’s winning Exora had its generator running for 34 mins.

Unfortunately, there were some problems with the data collected, and the Persona wasn’t included in last night’s results, which is a shame. It wasn’t Proton’s mistake and the team is gutted, to say the least. It will take two days to repair and “unscramble” the data, apparently, so there could yet be more good news. We’ll see.

The Saga EV had a closer call. Driven by Noamaan Siddiqi and assisted by Datuk Zainuddin Che Din, Proton’s Green Tech Dept director, they arrived with just 2 mins to spare, and with 0% charge left. It didn’t help that they started with just 80% charge (to give the other Protons more juice) and the traffic in downtown London was busy. The Exora REEV arrived last, just in time.

“I am overjoyed, to say the least! We were surprised with the Exora REEV victory last year as the Best E-REV Vehicle and we were determined this year not to take that victory for granted. So, for Exora REEV to come up victorious once again this year, with two more additional awards to its name is truly a remarkable achievement for Proton.

“The fact that we are tied as the winner in the Best Overall E-REV Vehicle category with another world class automotive manufacturer speaks volume about our standards and capabilities in this field,” said Proton MD Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin of the result.

I think that it’s very unlucky of Proton to not have won more with the Persona REEV, but the fact that the team is not entirely happy with two awards in a challenge featuring the world’s best green vehicles, shows that the company is on to something here.

It proves the point that Datuk Zainuddin Che Din was making in an earlier briefing – green vehicles is a new and level playing ground for all (although some do have mega budgets), and with EVs, Proton and its partner Frazer Nash is up there with the best, instead of playing catch up like in the conventional car arena.

On a different note, I also noticed that the loud noise reported in our exclusive Exora REEV test drive report from last year has been silenced. Read that one here, and our first drive of the Saga EV here.

Well done, boys and girls! Gallery from the start and finish lines are after the jump.

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