2008 ICOTY Most Sex Appeal Sports Car - Audi R8
by Martha Hindes
Sports cars have long been the epitomy of sex appeal when it comes to automobiles. They roar and purr, claim mountain passes and winding roadways, pass anything that bores them and park with disdain in the choicest of spots. When they do, few admirers seem to mind, but rather consider it a privilege to get such a close-up view. And when the sports car is an exotic that reaches aspirational heights, others seem to fade from the view.
That had to be the impact of Audi's new R8, when the ICOTY jury named it the 2008 ICOTY Most Sex Appeal Sports Car winner. When a sports car is forging new territory between exotics such as Porsche and true supercars such as Ferrari and Lamborghini, that should add to the mystique.
Audi's new direction R8 is a bold, 21st Century mid-engine entrant in the exotic wars, with an aluminum space frame, advanced technology, sophisticated aerodynamic styling and a thirst for the nearest raceway. Its naturally aspirated 4.2-liter engine delivers 420-horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 in 4.4 seconds.
Top speed on 19-inch performance tires is 187 mph. The R8's transmissions come in a smooth six-speed manual or automatic "R tronic" with manual override. Handling can be adjusted with standard or sport mode and stability control that can be turned off. The R8 has Audi's Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive, and assuming it's not in challenge mode at the nearest track, delivers approximately 13 city/20 highway mpg.
Visually it's comfortably all Audi inside, with distinctively luxurious Alcantara leather and such daily driving amenities as Sirius satellite radio and tire pressure and temperature monitor. The exterior suggests it could dominate a Formula 1 course, which it probably could. At a $109,000 entry price, the Audi R8 should become an intender on a lot of lofty wish lists.
Infiniti G37 Coupe
Seductively sculptured and exhilaratingly athletic, Infiniti's new G37 Coupe blends the best of three worlds in a knockout sports coupe. With performance, trendy style and luxurious touches, it's hard to decide which category fits it best. High rear haunches give it an in-motion appearance even when still. There's a fastback look to the rear truck lid. Body panels wrap around in an unbroken fluid line.
A driver's car with a sporty interior, the G37 Coupe is propelled by Infiniti's new 3.7-liter, V-6 engine based on an award-winning powerplant, which generates 330 horsepower and can mate with an optional advanced 4-Wheel Active Steer system. A dual exhaust has a heady purr. Start with $34,250 for the base five-speed automatic with manual mode and plan on trendy options.
BMW 335i Convertible
BMW has a drop-top secret. It's called the 335i convertible. It's the first time the German automaker has put a retractable hard top on its rear-drive based 3 Series luxury sports car. The new top doesn't change the BMW character, its recognizably BMW look from any angle or its world-class driving precision. Convertible elements with top down are smooth and uncluttered, thanks to the three-piece lightweight steel folding roof that nests in the trunk area when down. Powering it all â€” and the reason we love it â€” a "world-first" exhilarating turbo-powered 300-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six. Even the 19/28 mpg EPA rating is respectible for this $49,100-runner up.