AUTOMOBILE Magazine recently announced the winners of its 2008 AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE All-Stars Awards, delivering an exclusive selection of vehicles at the top of their class.
The list of 2008 All-Stars includes:
– The best Chevrolet family sedan AUTOMOBILE Magazine’s staff has ever driven. Smooth, quiet, well-finished and more than able to keep up with more powerful cars, it represents a true sea change in what GM is offering the public. This is the kind of car Americans have wanted from Detroit for years.
– The yin to the BMW 3-series’ yang. Picking a winner between them—which is to say, choosing the best sport coupe/sedan in the world—is less about what the cars can do than it is about what their drivers want. The interior of the Infiniti is a pleasure dome, but the car’s power is obvious the instant you punch the push-button starter and hear the feral growl of the engine.
– A perfect example of smoothly chic, Scandinavian cool. The C30 is whisper-quiet, perfectly composed and has a six-speed manual that you could teach your grandma to row flawlessly in fifteen minutes. The car embodies the one perfect criterion for All-Stardom: anyone would have it.
– Evolutionary improvements keep the Vette in a class of its own. The revised 2008 edition does the 0-to-60-mph sprint in 4.3 seconds—with an automatic transmission. There are faster new cars than the Corvette, but all of them cost a lot more.
– Trucks and sport utilities seldom earn a berth on the All-Stars list, but when was the last time you could call such a vehicle’s engine charming, or its transmission silky? The CX-9 ventures beyond the obligatory nine-to-five routine to play party animal in the off-hours.
– The GTI is magic. What else do you call a hatchback that can shame supercars? The GTI eclipses the class-clown Mini Cooper for spark and verve, and makes sense for real people who actually have to lead real lives. Fast, fun, cheap, and German. If you don’t like it, you’re probably dead.
– Maybe we should give it a lifetime achievement award. We didn’t set out hoping to give the 3-series another All-Star award—this is the car’s thirteenth—but then we got in the car and started driving. BMW still does chassis tuning like no other carmaker. The 3-Series is the car that instantly makes any mope who slides behind its wheel a better driver.
– This year, Mercedes got it just right. The car drips with luxury accoutrements and high-tech accessories, but the S-class is more than just the sum of its equipment list. Rides and handles in a way that belies its size, and comes with a quartet of engines that range from supremely competent to mind-blowing.
– The mid-engine sportster is a bravura engineering performance that reprises the truest Lotus virtues, namely light weight and fealty to handling excellence. The best-handling sports car we know—an audacious-looking thing that goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
– If you’re afraid people will think you bought a Cayman because you can’t afford a 911, we hereby inform you that those people are fools. The Boxster and the Cayman are exquisite to drive, with steering so communicative you’ll feel more of the road’s surface only if you crawl along it on your hands and knees. Few cars are as entertaining to drive at school-zone speeds.