Playboy's 2010 Car of the Year: Porsche Panamera Turbo
An odd choice for top pick to many minds on aesthetics alone, it's nonetheless a serious performer and an eminently capable continent cruiser. As our own Marty Padgett noted in his review of the 2010 Porsche Panamera Turbo, it has it all nailed down except for styling.
Best Convertible: Ferrari California
The 2010 Ferrari California is something like the opposite of the Panamera, sacrificing some performance and utility for the sake of style and accessiblity. Hard top up or down, it is definitely a head-turner. Turning once again to our review of the car, neither the $216,533 price nor the diluted-performance derision are enough to make it undesirable. Check out the review for a full slate of impressions and shots of the California in its natural habitat--the two-lane blacktop of the California hills.
Best Horsepower Value: Nissan Nismo 370Z
This is our first area of serious disagreement with the Playboy list. At $39,130, the 350-horsepower Nismo 370Z is no pushover, but it's not a value either, especially when considered against the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS churning out a tire-smoking 425 horsepower for a list price of just $30,945 for the 1SS, or $33,945 for the leather, Bluetooth and USB-equipped 2SS. It won't carve corners as well as the Z, but this is about a bang-for-the-buck horsepower car, right?
Best Bang For Your Buck: Mazdaspeed3
It's hard to argue with the 2010 Mazdaspeed3 for delivering the maximum smiles per dollar. Revised for 2010 with a smile of its own, the new car also gets a slightly retuned suspension and the same direct-injected, turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder that made the last generation of the car so fun. And starting at just $23,495, it's affordable, too. Oh, and it's a hatchback, so it can do everything you'd ask of a typical city car, all while returning an EPA-rated mpg of 18 city/25 highway.
Best Diesel Car: Audi A3 TDI
A no-brainer since it was voted 2010 Green Car of the Year this year, and it's a efficient (30/42 mpg), well-packaged car on a fun-to-drive chassis, but there's at least one alternative that might just merit the title. BMW's 335d, for instance, is no slouch in handling or luxury, though it's not quite as fuel efficient at 23/36 mpg and 27 mpg combined.Best Reborn Beauty: Ford Taurus SHO
Again, the Camaro may warrant consideration for this title, but we'll relent in this instance for the 2010 Ford Taurus SHO's 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost mill's sake. Truly fun-to-drive and inspiring, the EcoBoost V-6 is the animating force behind this car's reborn legacy. Oh, and regardless of what the commercials might say, it's S-H-O, not "show".
Best Crossover: BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo
Ahh, so that's what this thing is. Even after spending a good bit of time behind the 2010 5-Series GT's wheel, I couldn't make heads or tails of its intended market or its intended purpose, though it does drive fairly well and provide a lot of comfort for four adults. Whatever the 5-Series GT is, Playboy's description as a "go-fast, go-anywhere, all-purpose utility vehicle" seems a bit off the mark. As alternatives, what about the acronym salad of Cadillac SRX, Lincoln MKT or Mercedes-Benz's GLK?
Best Mean And Green: Ford Fusion Hybrid
This is a choice we can get fully behind. My own review of the 2010 Fusion Hybrid reflected the same premise: this is the most fun-to-drive yet still efficient hybrid I've been in. The upcoming Honda CR-Z may yet prove even livelier, but the Fusion is also a highly functional mid-size sedan.
Best Sports Sedan: Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG
There's no denying the Mercedes-Benz E 63 AMG's face-smashing power or its generally classy good looks, but it's never been the choice for curves, and that's a high priority in a sports sedan. We'll chalk it up to a matter of taste, but BMW's M3, Jaguar's XF-R or even a less-powerful but still quick car like the Infiniti G37 might make better canyon-carving choices.
All in all, the Playboy 10 hottest cars list is a nice collection, and despite what we've said above, we wouldn't kick any of them out of our garage for leaking a little oil. You can check out the full spread, if you're so inclined, in the latest edition of Playboy.