25 Best Cars of the Decade: Part One

On Sunday, I started it off by posting a few cars that didn’t make the cut. Now comes the first group, from ranks 25 to 16.

25. Volkswagen Golf R32

Most hatchbacks in North America are considered slow, but spacious family cars. At least, that’s been the manufacturer’s attitude here. If you wanted to get a sporty hatchback, you were mostly limited to the Honda Civic Si. Then the Golf R32 came along to North America 2004, due to the demand based on the European version. This wasn’t any ordinary Golf though; there was a reason the demand was so high.

First of all, rather than having the small straight-4 engine in the Golf, Volkswagen gave this version a muscular 3.2L VR6 engine, producing 237 horsepower. As well, they gave sporting qualities to the rest of the car: lighter seats by König, larger disc brakes, independant rear suspension and alloy rims, as well as a stable all-wheel drive system. This allowed the car to hit 0-60 at 5.6 seconds, something you’d never expect out of a Golf.

Yet, they didn’t skimp out on anything that made the Golf great and comfortable either. Nor did they make the car less safe. All this, and it’s not surprising to hear that it sold out all 5000 units in 13 months, or that it is one of the few cars that sells more used than it was originally priced new. While the performance GTi versions of the Mk5 and Mk6 Golf were good, they still won’t match the R32.

24. Generation Five Ford Mustang

The muscle car, the most respected car on the road… well, if it was from the ’70s. Afterwards, they went through many redesigns, so much that we got the Fox body Mustang, and the ugly fourth generation Camaro and 2005 GTO designs. While the fourth generation Mustang did improve, it wasn’t until the fifth generation that we got a true muscle redesign.

Even greater, it didn’t lose the accessibility when it came to price. Sure, they marketed a somewhat uncharacteristic V6 engine in a muscle car, and the suspension in every major version is prehistoric. But it created an entry level that was more accessible. As well, to give the Mustang a bit more oomph, if you felt the GT wasn’t enough, Ford teamed up with legendary tuning company Shelby to bring the Shelby GT500 Mustang, throwing out a whopping 500 horsepower from their V8, and a body style, while subtletly different from the base Mustang, it was much more agressive.

This retroization inspired the two other big brands to bring back some of their muscle cars. Dodge brought back the Charger and Challenger names (although the new Charger isn’t a muscle car and the new Challenger is a bit lacking, despite being sexy), while Chevrolet brought back the Camaro (which feels unfortunately cheap). Still, neither of those two can keep up with the Mustang name, which has held its own since 1964.

23. Porsche (911) 997 GT3

The 911 is one of the most iconic sports cars ever. It is the car that brought Porsche into notoreity, and gave the car company the staple it would need to be voted the most prestigeous car manufacturer in multiple public polls. The 997 GT3 is the sports version of the base 911, and although the 911 has, lately, been the official car of the mid-life crisis, this one isn’t for the sad. This one wants to be pushed.

It’s a happy medium between the more composed 911 and the track day oriented 997 GT3 RS. It still has some good power (flat-6 producing 415 hp), it’s fast (0-60 in 4.1 seconds, 193 mph top speed), and yet, it’s still comfortable. Despite having some track qualities, it has been claimed to be extremely friendly.

Yet, there’s still something that irks me about the 911 in general. No, it doesn’t need a radical design change. But the design isn’t exactly modern. The basic shape has been there since the first model, and the basic look since the ’80s. Which makes me wonder if it’s worth spending the money on a newer 911…

22. Cadillac CTS-V

Cadillac used to have two audiences: the retired, and pimps. These days, it seems like they’ve been marketing towards the latter audience, putting out cars like the Escalade. And while the base CTS can still be seen as something that a pimp would drool over, Cadillac has done something great with the CTS-V: They’ve created a true driver’s car.

Cadillac had one place in mind when they were thinking of the CTS-V: The Nurburgring. Which was refreshingly surprising, since GM decided to make a car to defy the odds and own a corner. Did they succeed? Oh boy, did they. Both generations of CTS-V could handle corners very well, and because of the engines included, they became muscle cars rather than luxury pimp-mobiles. The first generation CTS-V had used LS engines you would see in a base Corvette, and produced 400 horsepower, which gave the car some oomph.

But something hit Cadillac for the 2009 model, probably an insanity stick. While they still took from the Corvette engine, they decided to take the grand daddy Corvette ZR1’s LS9 engine, and modify it for their own needs. What became of it was a 6.2L, 556 horsepower beast. Yet, handling didn’t seem to be affected, nor did comfortability. To top it off, they decided to put their monster on the Nurburgring. What they did was an astonishing feat; they had ran a time of 7:59, making the CTS-V the fastest sedan in the world.

21. Ford GT

Not many people are aware of the history of the Ford GT. Originally, it was the Ford GT40, and it wasn’t created as a road supercar, but rather, a car to beat Ferrari in Le Mans. And not only did it beat the Ferrari, but for four straight years, it beat everyone else. Ford, wanting to bring back the memory, created a concept GT90, trying to bring the car into the ’90s, but horribly missing the mark. So, they decided to go back to the past, smartly, and created one of the most stunning supercars.

The looks are basically the same (although the GT is a bit higher, wider and longer than the old GT40), but Ford instead decided to modernize the car where it matters: the engine. Instead of the small 335 horsepower in the GT40, they gave the new version 550 horsepower. The car can max out at 205 mph, and is insanely quick getting to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

As well, to further the transition from race car to road car, the GT had a very comfortable interior. While the engine was loud when you put the foot down, it was calm when you were just coasting along. It was something that could be used every day. Well, when it was working, that is. Some owners did report that there were a few problems that required Ford to take a second look. But if you owned this car, you didn’t care. It is stunning, and only costed $150 thousand.

20. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

Some people, after seeing this list, are going to say I have a bias for Ferrari. Even so, I bet most of them agree that it makes sense. Ferrari is a name synonymous with great, high powered sports cars. The 599 is no different. From the line of front engine GT cars that includes Miami Vice’s Testarossa, this is the best looking from that bunch, hands down.

Not only does it look stunning, it is also the most powerful Ferrari road car to date. It works amazing on the track, with the quickness and speed needed to handle corners easily. Yet, despite all this track DNA, it works well on the road too. Ride quality is not compromised at all, and the interior is beautiful.

Yet, this isn’t going to be remembered as well as other Ferrari cars. Yeah, it will have its fans among car lovers, but it will be overshadowed by two greater Ferraris…

19. BMW M3 (E92)

BMW has always been the choice for the business car. When I was living in Toronto, I would always vouch for the fact that at least 25% of the cars in downtown were BMWs. And it makes sense, the Germans have always made sensible cars that look classy.

Oddly, that has changed lately. While the German executive class has remained somewhat unchanged, they’ve been making cars that should be tested for steroids. The M3 E92 is a prime example of that, but that’s a good thing in it’s case. The E92 (of the E9x specifically) has been lightened to give the car a bit more agility. The engine, while not extremely powerful, does move the car quite well.

As for looks, it looks insanely aggressive. Rather than an executive BMW, if you showed up to the bank in this, they would deem you too brash and interesting for their bank, and immediately fire you. Maybe. Still, it has BMW’s luxury to go with that sporting prowess.

18. Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII

Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evo is the best of the rally-based road cars. Not only does it look the best, but it works the best on the road. Despite being a 4-door sedan, it has great performance, and all at a great price. Specifically, Generation VIII of the Evo is great for two reasons: First of all, it was the first Lancer Evo to be sold in North Americal. Secondly, the insane FQ400 edition in the UK.

The first one is pretty easy and obvious, and although they were “limited” to the GSR, the North American models were great. The FQ400 model was special in the UK for one reason: it was completely and utterly insane. It was tuned to get 405 horsepower out of a meager 2.0L, 4 cylinder engine. Although this meant insane turbo lag when not in the right RPM, when you did hit a high enough RPM, you would blast away.

While the newer generations of Lancer Evos look a lot better, this one is the most memorable, especially because nothing like the FQ400 has been made since. While it may get good competition from the Subaru Impreza WRX STI, it’s hard to say that’s even equal to the Lancer Evo.

17. Pagani Zonda F

…and in the corner of insanity, we have the Zonda F. Pagani originally came onto the scene with the Zonda in 1999, and this, the Zonda F, is the lighter, more powerful, vastly improved road version of that car.

When the aerodynamics are adjusted for the best downforce, this car can hit as high as 215 mph, and hits 60 in 3.5 seconds. As well, this car just grips to the track. It’s phenomal how much it can take corners. It has been lapping at amazing times at the Nurburgring, as well as the Top Gear Test Track (beating out the Veyron).

That being said, this is a road car, which brings out the downfalls. It’s horribly impractical, and supposedly uncomfortable. It is possibly one of the most ridiculously ugly cars I’ve ever seen. And at a price tag of about a million dollars, it’s just too far out of reach.

16. Lotus Elise/Exige

Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus once said, “Give a car more power, it’ll be faster in the straights. Make a car lighter, it’ll be faster everywhere.” The Lotus Elise is a spitting image of that phrase. At less than 2000 lbs, it’s insanely small and light. And that makes up for the small engine included inside. As well, the Elise platform has been used in various other cars, such as the Exige, the Vauxhall VX220, the Opel Speedster, the Tesla Roadster, and (less directly) the Dodge EV concept. So the Elise is pretty important. At this point, you’re probably wondering why I have both cars mentioned (and would have probably called me a cheater at this point as well). But basically they’re the same car. The Elise is the road car, while the Exige, still road legal, is more of a hardcore version.

Either way, the Elise has created a new bar when it comes to handling. Many manufacturers now want their performance road cars to handle like the Lotus Elise. In the Exige, it’s even better. It has been said to be one of the best, if not the best handling cars in the world. This is thanks to a front splitter and rear wing that create perfect downforce, as well as semi-slick tires. And did I mention it’s really quick as well? The Exige can accelerate to 60 in 3.9 seconds (the Elise in 5).

Yet, neither of the cars are particularly powerful. The Exige S 240 has a meager 240 horsepower, and the Elise SC has 218. Neither car can go over 150 miles per hour. Nor are they very comfortable, especially for anyone over 5’10”. Yet, it has become a new benchmark.

Go to part two!

~ by The Slurpee Man on December 15, 2009.

One Response to “25 Best Cars of the Decade: Part One”

  1. My uncle who I live with has a2008 M3 hard top convertible.
    That car is so much fun to drive.^^

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