Saturday, December 22, 2007

Top 10 Sports Cars

Top 10 Sports Cars
on MSN Autos

The list of the ten most popular sports cars on MSN Autos is based on visits to the site's vehicle research pages during months July through September of 2007.

1. Ford Mustang

When the latest Mustang debuted in 2005, its flashback styling tapped into a deep well of American automotive lust. Its retro design—plainly displayed via round headlights, triangular windows, three-element taillights, and galloping-pony grille—only added appeal to one of the last affordable American sports cars. Three years later, enthusiasts are still loving the Mustang's power, styling and affordability.

2. Chevrolet Corvette

Long an American icon, the current Corvette is also a world class, high-performance sports car. For the 2008 model year, a new LS3 6.2-liter V8 gives the Corvette an extra 30 horsepower and 24 lb-ft of torque. With the new mill cranking out 430 horsepower and 424 lb-ft of torque, you might assume a car with so much power would provide dismal fuel economy. You can't expect the gas mileage of a Toyota Corolla, but the Corvette's every-day supercar status grows when you learn the EPA estimates for an '08 manual-tranny version are an impressive 16 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Related link: Horsepower vs. Fuel Efficiency

3. Lamborghini Murcielago LP640

Whenever a machine as exotic as the Murcielago hits the road, it can't help but turn heads. The latest iteration of this exotic sports car—the 2007 LP640—only adds to the neck-snapping appeal. The restyled body features new bumpers front and back, larger air intakes, and rear lights designed with a single piece lens. Derived from the Italian for the engine's mounting position—longitudinale posteriore—the LP640 is powered by a 640-horsepower 6.5-liter V12. The V12's torque peak of 486 lb-ft (at 6000 rpm) is channeled through a new 6-speed transmission, stronger rear differential and permanent all-wheel drive.

4. Mitsubishi Eclipse

Perhaps hoping to get back in with the tuner crowd, Mitsubishi went back to the drawing board for the Eclipse, which was all-new in 2006. With styling reminiscent of the machinery in the film "The Fast and the Furious," the latest Eclipse provides voluptuous lines in a sleek and well-contented front-wheel-drive coupe. There is no turbo for the base 2.4-liter 162-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, but plenty of power is on tap for the boulevard in the Eclipse GT, which sports a 263-horsepower 3.8-liter V6.

5. Ford Shely GT500

The most muscular of Mustangs, the GT500 is motivated by a supercharged 500-horsepower V8, which shares components with the discontinued Ford GT. It is easily the lowest cost 500-horsepower car on the road today, with an MSRP just shy of $42,000. That kind of power will get you from 0 to 60 mph in 4.91 seconds, 0 to 100 mph in 10.3 seconds and delivers a quarter-mile time of 12.99 seconds at 117.70 mph. A member of the 500-horsepower club, the GT500 can be had as a coupe or a convertible.

6. Nissan 350Z

Since its introduction in 2003, the 350Z has been a hit with consumers. Available in coupe or a convertible, the Z is powered by a 3.5-liter 306-horsepower V6 that delivers 268 lb-ft of torque. For 2007 Nissan gave the 350Z the next-generation VQ35HR engine with a twin air intake system to reduce airflow resistance. Added for 2007 is the NISMO 350Z, which features a more aerodynamic look, a specially tuned suspension, Brembo brakes and lightweight forged-alloy wheels. NISMO is Nissan's performance products division.

7. Saturn Sky

Saturn may have been waiting a long time to hear this word, but the Sky is a sexy car. Often compared to its sibling, the Pontiac Solstice, the Sky's suspension is tuned differently to provide a more compliant ride. The base engine is a 2.4-liter 177-horsepower 4-cylinder, while the Sky Red Line's mill is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder producing 260-horsepower. Starting price for a 2008 Sky is just under $25,000.

8. Porsche 911

The iconic rear-engine sports car, the 911 has managed to retain its trademark silhouette since its inception over 40 years ago. Curb weights have climbed with content over the years (currently 3,495 - 3,572 pounds), but so has engine output. The range-topping 911 Turbo cranks out 480 horsepower from its twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter flat-Six. With a nearly prescient all-wheel-drive system, the Turbo can lunge to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds and hit 100 mph in 8.4 seconds using the standard 6-speed manual transmission. Opt for the 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and acceleration times improve to 3.4 and 7.8 seconds.

9. Mazda MX-5 Miata

Introduced in the summer of 1989 as a 1990 model, the MX-5's quick steering, go-kart-like handling and sporty styling have helped the Miata land a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling two-seater sports car in the world. Following the trend of retractable hardtop convertibles such as the Volkswagen Eos and Pontiac G6, Mazda has added one to the MX-5 lineup. The retractable top adds only 75 pounds without reducing cargo room. Prices start under $21,000 for a 2008 Miata.

10. Lamborghini Gallardo

Another thrill machine from Lamborghini, the Gallardo is a two-seat mid-engine sports car equipped with a 520-horsepower 5.0-liter V10. For 2007, a lighter and more powerful Superleggera version has been added to the lineup. The Superleggera boasts extensive use of carbon fiber, bringing the sports car's weight to just under 3,000 pounds—making it more responsive and better suited for the track. With 522 horsepower on tap, the Superleggera boasts a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds, and a 195 mph top speed.

Top Luxury Cars

Top Luxury Cars
on MSN Autos

The BMW 3-Series continues its reign for the seventh consecutive quarter as the most popular luxury car on MSN Autos.
Click to enlarge

compiled by MSN Autos

While the wheelbase remains the same, the new CTS is a little longer and provides more rear-seat room.

Though based on the Honda Accord, the Acura TL sedan has a completely different look and personality—one that leans heavily towards performanc

Redesigned for the 2008 model year, exterior changes are highlighted by a more pronounced Mercedes emblem and a new grille.

Redone for the 2007 model year, the Lexus ES 350 has a longer wheelbase, more power and a new transmission.

Some people buy them for the comfort or features, and some just to make a statement. Regardless the reason, luxury cars are more than just an appliance to carry you from point A to point B. MSN Autos separates this segment into three categories: entry luxury, luxury and ultra luxury. Of the most researched vehicles in the third quarter, only cars from the first two categories made our list.
Leading the pack is the hot-selling BMW 3-Series, the seventh consecutive quarter that this Bavarian icon has been the most popular luxury car on MSN Autos. Its 5-Series sibling slotted into second place.
Mercedes-Benz has three vehicles in our Top Ten list, with the new-for-2008 C-Class taking third. Compared to its predecessor, this near-luxury sedan has been totally revamped with a bigger and bolder look.
Representing the domestics is the Cadillac CTS in fourth place. Receiving its first makeover since its introduction, the entry-luxury sedan features a still chiseled but sleeker look, an optional 304-horsepower direct-injected engine, and a more posh interior.
Photo Gallery: Popular Luxury Cars
The list of the top ten luxury cars on MSN Autos is based on total visits to the site's vehicle research pages during the months of July through September 2007. Here's the complete list:
1. BMW 3-Series
Entry-level sports sedans are a hot item and BMW seems to have mastered the formula. After getting a major overhaul for 2006, a sporty coupe joins the lineup for 2007. Beyond the re-skin, the new twin-turbocharged, 300-horsepower 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, and new xDrive all-wheel-drive system are now available in all 3-Series coupes and sedans. The beautifully sculpted twin-turbo 335i Coupe will leap to 60 mph in only 5.13 seconds, and eclipse the quarter-mile in just 13.70 seconds.
2. BMW 5-Series
The 5-Series is available in a sedan or a wagon and has been updated for the 2008 model year. Ride and handling have always been exceptionally strong attributes for this luxury player, and this version is no different. On the surface the 5-Series gets a refreshed look, and beneath the skin, engine choices are a 230-horsepower 3.0-liter Six (528) or the new 3.0-liter twin-turbo Six in the 535. A number of new features have been added, including a lane departure warning system and active cruise control with a "Stop & Go" feature.The 2008 5-Series starts at just under $45,000 for the sedan and $54,000 for the sports wagon.
3. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Getting a makeover for the 2008 model year is the redesigned, fourth-generation C-Class. A standout styling cue is the new grille and larger Mercedes emblem-a more mature look for a machine nearly 4 inches longer and 2 inches wider. Engines are carryovers, but a new all-wheel-drive system will be available with an automatic transmission in the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury trims. The revised steering and suspension is tuned to make the C-Class more agile, in hopes of competing with the class-leading 3-Series. Prices for a 2008 C-Class starts at just over $31,000.
4. Cadillac CTS
Cadillac's aging image began to change with the CTS debut in 2003, allowing it to woo many potential BMW 3-Series owners. Though conquest sales are always nice, it's the younger age demographic that really matters to Cadillac. The brand's transformation continues for 2008, with the CTS's first major redesign. The new entry-level Caddy includes more room, power and performance. Partly developed on Germany's famous Nurburgring race track, the CTS is offered with three suspension setups and all-wheel-drive is a $1,900 option.
5. Acura TL
Acura has brought new meaning to the term well-equipped, and the TL is no different. Based on the Honda Accord, the front-wheel-drive sedan provides a luxurious cockpit loaded with comfort and convenience features as standard. Rear-seat room is impressive, and the sharp handling TL provides plenty of snap from its 3.2-liter V6. Enthusiasts may want to opt for the Type S, which has a more powerful 286-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, a firmer suspension, a limited-slip differential and a more aggressive look.
6. Lexus ES 350
Also known as the luxury version of the popular Toyota Camry, the ES 350 was redone for 2007 with a longer wheelbase, more power and a new transmission. To differentiate between the two, Toyota has made the new ES even more of a pure luxury model. Ride comfort and handling have been improved, the new 272-horsepower V6 provides plenty of refined thrust, airbags can be found all over and there's a new optional panorama roof. For added safety and luxury, an optional new pre-collision system can be had along with a Premium Plus package. Expect this version to do even better than the Lexus ES 330.
7. Lexus IS
A major competitor to the BMW 3-Series, the IS is a major improvement over its predecessor, with silken lines and more powerful engines. Partly derived from the GSGS sedan, the IS is longer, wider, taller, and has a longer wheelbase than the previous edition. The top-of-the-line model is the rear-wheel-drive IS 350, which has a 306-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that can hustle the car to 60 mph in only 5.6 seconds. For the more fuel-conscious, the 2.5-liter IS 250 offers respectable mileage at 20 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway.
8. Infiniti G35
The G35 has been a hit since its introduction with the sporty-looking coupe grabbing most of the attention. But that may change as Infiniti has given the sedan an update for the 2007. The re-do includes more power, sleeker styling and an improved interior. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive, the new G35 can be had in Base, Journey and Sport trims. Unlike the coupe, which for 2008 receives a larger 3.7-liter V-6 and has been retagged the G37, four tall adults can easily fit in the sedan. Prices start at just over $31,000 for the base G35 sedan.
9. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Redesigned for the 2007 model year, the E-Class has a full array of safety features that include anti-lock brakes with brake assist, traction control, Electronic Stability Program, eight airbags and active head restraints. Its suspension design and technology arrive via the S-Class, and the Airmatic air suspension on the E550 and E63 AMG provides a smooth and self-leveling ride. To increase fuel efficiency, a clean diesel sedan costs just $1,000 more than the gas-powered version, with a mpg rating of 23 city and 32 highway.

10. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Mercedes' flagship sedan is quiet, luxurious, agile, powerful and filled with a long list technological features. Engine options range from the least expensive S550 with a 382-horsepower 5.5-liter V8, to a 604-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 6.0-liter V12 in the S65 AMG. Owners may find the Park Assist and Infra-Red Night View Assist especially useful. The radar-based Park Assist can help the driver park by showing red, yellow and blue lines on a dashboard screen as a guide. For night-time driving, the Infra-Red Night View Assist can extend the driver's forward visibility nearly 500 feet.