25 Best Cars of the Decade: Part Two

Alright, continuing on from Tuesday, the list continues! Going from rank 15 to 6. Tune in Saturday for the Top 5.

15. Gumpert Apollo

As soon as you look at it, you are turned off of it. Remember how I said the Zonda was ridiculously ugly? Well, this is horribly ugly, and has a shape only an efficient German designer would love. Despite the ugly looks, that efficient German designer has done well when it comes to aerodynamics.

Yes, every sports car company and F1 racing team says their car can produce enough downforce to drive upside down at a certain speed, but Gumpert is willing to prove it with the Apollo. They found a tunnel to do it, but no driver has had the balls yet. As well, the car is amazingly quick. Top speed is 22o mph, and hits 60 in 3.2 seconds. So it finds itself at home on the track.

But that’s just it. It’s nice to have a really quick car that dominates the track, but in the real world, this car isn’t as great. Extremely loud, not very comfortable, and when you’re on the street, those looks don’t make up for it. And when you’re paying over $400,000 for a car, are you sure you want an ugly, uncomfortable track car? Wouldn’t you rather have…

14. Ferrari F430

The stunning successor to the Ferrari 360 Modena, coming from a line of great looking Ferrari V8s, the F430 not only ups the bar when it comes to looks, but the technology in the car puts this car on another level.

With changes that a woman would die for, the F430 has subtle changes in curves that make it look a bit more stunning than the old 360. What the woman doesn’t do it for, is downforce; the 430’s curves now produces a lot more downforce. As well, a highly updated engine and launch control (Europe only) propels this car to 60 in 3.5 seconds, and it maxes out at 196 mph. It is also the first car produced with an active differential, what Ferrari call their E-diff.

I could go on about the technology in the car. But this car is the most stunning Ferrari made up to this point (although the successor, the 458 Italia, looks even better). It gives you everything you paid the $168,000 for, and then some. It just won’t be the most memorable Ferrari of the decade.

13. Saleen S7

Saleen has always been known for their many modified models of Mustangs, adding performance parts. Well, Saleen has put their efforts into a supercar. This supercar, under the S7R nomenclature, has done quite well in the both the American Le Mans Series and the FIA GT Championships, so the S7, being basically the same car, does pass the performance test. The engine screams with its NASCAR roots as well, being a modified 7.0L Ford engine producing 550 horsepower (the Twin Turbo* produces 750). The base car then maxes out at 210 mph, and hits 0-60 in 3.9 seconds.

But it works on the road as well. Other than being amazingly noisy, the ride is not particularly uncomfortable, and the looks? Well, they speak for themselves. Yet, for some reason, this car isn’t particularly popular, or even known outside of North America, despite all of what I said. Which doesn’t bode well for the S7. It will have a lot of notoriety in the US and Canada, but not much elsewhere.

*The twin turbo, while having more impressive manufacturer claims, have not been confirmed. While a claimed 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds comes from Saleen, it has never been tested higher than 3.4, and the top speed hasn’t been tested either. So all performance claims come from the base S7.

12. Porsche Carrera GT

Meet Porsche’s first true supercar. The Carrera GT is quite a change from their usual line-up. Although the front end looks a bit like a 911, that’s where the similarities end. This car is powered by a V10 engine (a first for Porsche) producing 612 horsepower. It has an active wing, popping up when the car hits 70 mph. The frame is made purely of carbon fiber.

While the performance figures are great, if you don’t push it correctly, it will bite your head off. The car is quite unforgiving on the track, requiring the best of drivers to get the most out of it. That being said, it is quite calm when used on the road. The car includes options for a Bose sound system and satellite navigation. It is comfortable, and stylish. The exterior is stunning, and this could very well be the best looking car Porsche has ever made. And unlike the usual affordable 911, this edition costs $440,000. Worth it, for one of Porsche’s masterpieces, but pretty much assuring that it isn’t accessible.

11. Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

What do you do when your last supercar, the CLK-GTR, looks out of place in your line-up, and produces more upforce than downforce? You go ask one of the guys that beat you to help you. Since Porsche and Nissan are direct competitiors, they went and asked the guys who currently had nothing on their plate, McLaren. The finale to this is the Mercedes/McLaren SLR.

First of all, it looks like a Mercedes; in fact, it looks better than every other Mercedes. The ride quality is still what you’d expect from Mercedes, and the interior contains all the luxuries to boot. Then McLaren comes in, moves the working parts about to create better weight distribution, makes the body as light as possible, and does its thing to make the SLR a veritable track car. And boy, does it do well there. 0-60 in as low as 3.5 seconds, and maxes out at 208 mph. Even more impressive, it does 120-0 in less than 240 feet, which is completely ridiculous. And, unlike the last car I listed, this car is forgiving. You can push it, and if you make a mistake, it pats you on the back and encourages you to keep going. It’s only available as an automatic as well.

So, it does work both on the track, and on the road. Which is rare for a supercar of the price range ($495,000). Yet, something tells me that for that price, you can still get even more.

10. Lamborghini Gallardo

Lamborghini cars have always been known for being extremely shouty, and looking like they came out of the mothership that is hanging over New York city. The new line of Lamborghini cars don’t follow that trend so much. But while they look more composed, they are still some of the most stunning cars on the road. The Gallardo, the most “accessible” of the Lamborghini line-up (I use that term lightly, since it still costs $180,000), looks the most composed. It maintains that composure on the road as well. It is comfortable, and it basically works (unlike some past Lamborghini models).

On the track, it also works. While it may not have blistering speed (195 top speed, 0-60 in 4.0 seconds on the base model), that’s not what you’ll notice. It grips to the track very well, due to the large wheels and the all-wheel drive system sourced from Audi. It actually competes with the bigger brother, the Murciélago, around the track with the more expensive, more track centred LP 560-4 trim.

While the Audi ownership has given the Lamborghini brand a bit more sanity, the Lamborghini spirit is still there, and the Gallardo will be one of the most memorable cars of the decade. Just not the most memorable Lamborghini.

9. Aston Martin DBS

There is no brand of car more manly than an Aston Martin. It’s the brand most known for being in Bond movies, and in fact, look more stunning than Bond himself. The DBS, easily looking better than Daniel Craig in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (which is why they had to smash it up a bit in both movies), isn’t here because of Bond. No, the DBS is the best car Aston Martin has made in a long time.

Other than being able to save Bond’s life (DBS 1, Le Chiffre 0), this car has been given a lot of features from Aston Martin’s GT1 race car, the DBR9. The body takes many cues from it, as well, the 6.0L V12 engine is directly sourced from the DBR9, and modified to produce 510 horsepower. The DBS also has adaptive suspension, to help it handle in any situation. It’s also lighter than the DB9, and quicker. The car gets from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, and reaches 194 mph.

The performance isn’t that impressive, though. It is still heavy for a car (3700+ lbs). It seems like it could be a bit faster. While it is still the best Aston Martin in the line-up when it comes to performance, it is the most beautiful car created in this decade. It isn’t flashy, but it attracts your attention. It is agressive, but not agressive enough to scare you. It looks like it costs more than the $269,000 that would be paid for it. And most of all, it is memorable.

8. Koenigsegg CCX(R)

People usually know Sweden for its sensibility. Sure, that is true; they are one of the highest rated countries to live in, they have the safest car brand in the world, Volvo, etcetera. But behind all of that, Sweden still lives the Viking roots. Just under hockey and death metal, Koenigsegg brings out the Viking in Swedish motoring, and the CCX and CCXR are battle axes.

To begin, the CCXR isn’t a race version of the car. Instead, it is the “environmentally-friendly” version, running on E85 ethanol. This version is special, because the E85 fuel allows the car to get a whopping 1018 horsepower, rather than the 806 in the regular CCX, which is just insane. The car can go 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, and Koenigsegg claims it is faster than the Bugatti Veyron and that it can top out at 260 mph, although this hasn’t been tested yet. Even more impressive, it goes from 0 to 186 mph, then back to 0 in a ridiculous 29.2 seconds. Seriously, just wait 30 seconds; that’s how long it takes a Koenigsegg to re-arrange your innards. Remember how I said the Carrera GT was unforgiving? Instead of just biting your head off, this car will kill you. No matter how skilled you are, this car will do whatever it can to kill you (it nearly killed The Stig, even).

That being said, this car is safe. In fact, it is one of the few cars from a small manufacturer that complies to the US safety laws. That is, if you aren’t pushing it to the edge. And it looks great, and is surprisingly comfortable. Unfortunately, it isn’t as memorable as it should be. It is cheaper than other cars in the speed range, at $545,000, but it still hasn’t proven how fast it really is. Sure, it will have the record for the fastest speeding ticket ever (242 mph in a 70 zone), but until Koenigsegg test the speed, you won’t hear people raving about it.

7. Audi R8

Audi has been doing a lot in the past few decades to put itself on the same level as BMW and Mercedes-Benz when it comes to German executive cars. In 2006, instead of trying to be like them, they instead took a step ahead of them with the R8. Audi took the platform from the Lamborghini Gallardo and used it for the R8. Then, they threw the V8 RS4 engine and put it into the car. All that being said, it sounds like it would be slower than the Gallardo. And it was, so Audi put a 5.2L V10 in the car to even the field.

With that V10, the R8 hits 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, and maxes out at 197 mph. It handles well, and anyone can drive this car to the edge. Despite this, it still remains fun. But the track isn’t where this car shines. To begin, this car is extremely practical. It has a lot of room, it is very comfortable, and you don’t have to leave behind baggage because you don’t have enough storage.

In the three and a half years that it has been in production, this car has put itself on top of many of its competitors. It has appeared in many big name movies, such as Iron Man and Transformers 2 (where it got cut in half, sadly). It is the cover car of the popular racing game Forza Motorsport 3. Everyone I talk to drools over this car, because it looks amazing. And while performance isn’t the greatest, it is the most practical supercar.

6. Chevrolet Corvette Z06/ZR1

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1The Corvette has always been the great American sports car. Ever since the Corvette Stingray hit the streets in 1967, this has been everyone’s dream car in the USA. The C6 Corvette is definitely the most brash looking Corvette yet, but the performance models are even more impressive.

First of all, the Z06. It’s powered by a large 7.0L V8, which produces 505 horsepower. It can max out at 198 mph, and even more impressive, gets to 60 in an impressive 3.6 seconds. It also does well on the track, getting an amazing 7:42 on the Nurburgring, faster than a Zonda S, 911 GT3 RS and 599 GTB. Yet, it works on the real world. It is the only car with an engine more than 500 horsepower that doesn’t get affected by the Gas Guzzler tax. It gets 24 mpg highway, which is amazing for the car.

But there’s a more beefed up version of this car. The ZR1 LS9 engine, seemingly on steroids, is a 6.2L supercharged V8, producing 638 horsepower. The car itself does a lot to be a veritable track car. The brakes are Brembo brakes, functionally similar to those on the Ferrari FXX. The magnetic suspension allows for better handling on the turns. This amounts for 16 seconds, as this lapped the Nurburgring in a ridiculous 7:26.

Both cars do work in the real world, but like many other GM cars, feel cheap and plasticy. The performance, on the other hand, is phenomanal, and leads me to my last point: price. The Z06 costs only $74,000, while the ZR1 costs $106,000, which is a steal for a sports car, and near super car that is amazingly fun. There’s only one car that does it better in a similar price range…

Go to part three!

~ by The Slurpee Man on December 17, 2009.

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