TTAC's Ten Best for 2008

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
ttac s ten best for 2008

The e-voting booths are closed and the votes are in. You've selected TTAC's Ten Best Automobiles for 2008. Five of the ten are repeat winners from last year– but only one of them stayed in the same slot. Three of our winners slipped in the ratings, and one moved up. GM, Mazda, Nissan and BMW all have two winners on the list. Honda and Audi each have one. There are sedans, sports cars and econoboxes. In fact, the only thing that seems to bind this group of cars together is the "fun to drive" factor (anyone who doesn't think that's important can click here). The rest of you can make the jump and help celebrate/kvetch about TTAC's Ten Best for 2008

10. Infiniti G35/37

The newly redesigned Infiniti G35/37 has graduated from James Bond analogies to Arnold Schwarzenegger comparisons (in his prime, of course) wearing a meticulously fitted suit.The G unit's athletic enough to shred meandering ribbons of asphalt, yet dignified enough for valet parking at a four star restaurant. The G35/37 is the ultimate driving machine for up and coming executives who have to keep an eye on the bottom line. – wcm

9. Mazda MX-5

For nearly two decades Mazda has never wavered from the MX-5's original formula: an inexpensive, light weight, front engine, rear wheel-drive British style convertible that not only starts every time you turn the key, but tugs at your heart strings every time you slide out around a corner. If you shut your eyes and meditate on the word "driving," odds are you'll visualize a Miata. – jl

8. MINI Cooper S

If cars were ice cream, the MINI Cooper S would be fat-free Häagen-Dazs: all the deliciousness you want with none of the guilt. The MINI manages to pack performance, handling and style into a pint-sized container for just a bit more than plain vanilla costs. In fact, to have this much fun driving without slurping down oodles of gas, for almost exactly the average price of a new car in America, is almost sinful. Rum Raisin with hot fudge and sprinkles. Yum. – mm

7. Nissan GT-R

Like most everybody else in America, I haven't driven the Nissan GT-R. But like any good pistonhead, I saw the Nürburgring video, heard the Corvette ZR1 debates, and scanned the spec sheet: 473 horsepower, sub four-second 0 – 60 time and the [mythical] $70k price tag. The GT-R has roots in video games, movies, gray market imports and a huge federalization scandal a few years back. The uber-Nissan cashes-in on the forbidden fruit value, without being forbidden. The Nissan GT-R is a legend in its own time. – jb

6. Cadillac CTS

For the first time in, well, forever, Cadillac has crafted a car that not only competes toe-to-toe with its German rivals dynamically, but flat-out destroys them with American styling and sex appeal. The CTS exudes zeitgeist, that intangible quality that lets you know you are driving something special, something that will continue to beckon you to the open road, long after the engine has cooled in the garage. – ms

5. Audi R8

As our own Jay Shoemaker said, "If you're looking for trouble, you've come to the wrong place." When you're the German cousin to the Lamborghini Gallardo, there's very little you can do wrong. With 420 horses running through all-wheel-drive, the R8 is the finesse player that turns the impossible into elementary, and a mundane trip around town into a star-studded gala, where the driver is the Guest of Honor. – sm

4. Honda Fit

From the Fit's tasteful dash to its trick rear seat, there's nothing to make you think Honda wishes you'd bought a more expensive model. The Fit's steering rivals a Boxster, the manny tranny is Honda perfection and the Fit gets 33 mpg around town without any hybrid complexity.There's only one reason we're not recommending that everyone "Buy a Fit:" an all-new model is coming that will probably be even better still. – jl

3. BMW 3-Series

Last year's first place favorite shows up in third place this year. I think people have a tendency to tire of teams, celebrities or nations that stay on top for too long. But even though it slipped a bit, the BMW 3-series remains the alpha sports sedan amongst our readers. From the bargain-basement six to the monster-motored M, there's no mistaking who's king of the hill. Your personal preferences may run to the C, G, IS or the 4, but you probably made that decision comparing it to a 3. – mm

2. Chevy Corvette/Z06/ZR1

Chevy's plastic fantastic hangs on to second place. Here's the mind-bending power, brutal grip, politically-correct fuel economy and brand-faithful style that's stood the test of time. And that's just the base model. Factor in the price point where the corner-hungry Z06 and supercar-killing ZR1 prove their superiority and this win is an absolute no-brainer. The only thing is, after the ZR1, what can they do for an encore? – sm

1. Mazda Mazda3/MazdaSpeed3

Last year's fourth place finisher moves to the number one slot this year, showing the hot-hatch never died, it merely grew up. With an upscale interior, understated sheet metal and high dollar dynamics, the Mazda3 is on every budget-minded pistonhead's wish list. The exhilarating performance afforded by forced induction and other sporting improvements in the Mazdaspeed3 adds more accolades to the approval, because too much of a good thing is never enough. – sm

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  • Diewaldo Diewaldo on Aug 30, 2008

    I still marvel about the fact that Ford couldn't be bothered to bring the current european Focus to the US. Actually the car shares the same platform as the Mazda 3 and the Volvo S40/S50, but I think it is a much nicer car (although a tad more boring). Also over here in Europe we have the Ford C-Max and the Kuga on the same platform. Wouldn't those also fit for the US Market I wonder?

  • Kiva Kiva on Sep 07, 2008

    Hello folks Well, I am really sorry if I am being the ultimate ignoramous...but I cannot figure out how to post a question and recommendations for a late model used car to that ok for this site? I've enjoyed reading the reviews. I'd appreciate any guidance :) thanks kiva