In alphabetical order, they are: the Audi S4, BMW 3-Series/M3, Cadillac CTS/CTS-V, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord, Honda Fit (Jazz), Mazda MX-5 Miata, Mazda3, Mazdaspeed 3 (MPS), Porsche Boxster/Cayman, and the Volkswagen GTI.
The winning cars all passed the following three criteria with flying colours:
- How well does the car perform its intended mission?
- Is this a highly engaging, fun-to-drive vehicle in its category?
- What kind of value does it represent?
The Audi S4 ($115,000 in Australia) was praised for its mind-bending 245kW/440Nm supercharged 3.0-litre V6, its practicality, ergonomics, comfort and styling. The massive step up from the range-topping A4 to the S4 also won over the testers.
Its direct competitor, the BMW 3-Series/M3 ($55,300 to $184,000 here), was competing in its 19th
consecutive 10Best, due largely to the incredible confidence the vehicle has always instilled in the driver. The judges ruled it a car they would like to drive every day.
The Honda Fit (Jazz in Australia, from $16,990 to $25,290) was commended for having the running costs and environmental footprint of a hamster but the dimensions of a “Sasquatch”. The judges also liked the paddle-shifters (the cheapest way to get the F1 experience in the US) as well as the compact’s decidedly upmarket feel.
The judges said the Mazda MX-5 ($44,265 to $51,930) needed to put smiles on faces to score a 10Best award, and it did not disappoint. It was praised for its athletic ability and driving enjoyment as well as the price that puts it in reach of many customers.
Its hard-topped sibling, the Mazda3 ($21,330 to $41,915), was deemed to be fun, comfortable and economical in standard form and gloriously complete in Mazdaspeed/MPS form.
The judges said the Mazda’s manners were slightly coarser than the Volkswagen Golf GTI ($38,990 to $42,990), which they described as the ultimate quiet achiever. Despite the simple looks, the testers loved its sports car-like handling, smooth shifting and spine-tingling speed.
The Porsche Boxster/Cayman ($106,100 to $152,800) were simply described as “perfect” by the judges, gaining “unparalleled driving pleasure” from the flat-six engine, slick PDK transmission and the luxurious interior.
In its 28
year, the 10Best competition took 58 vehicles that were all-new, those with significant updates, those that were not available for the 2009 competition and the 10 winners from last year’s contest.
All the cars had to be on sale from January 2010 to be eligible and must be less than $US80,000 ($81,900). The upper price limit was increased by $US9000 over 2009 to allow more luxury sedans and sports cars to compete.