November 3, 2009
This must be a gratifying win for Ford, given that the Taurus name almost disappeared a few years ago. This is a very nice car, though, and certainly deserves recognition. Ford also entered its Fusion Hybrid in this category, and it placed a very close second, while the Buick LaCrosse placed third. The Buick was the most expensive car by a wide margin; I suspect that had Buick entered a less-pricey version, the results would have been much closer, as all three of these cars are very good.
2010 Ford Taurus (top, by Paul Williams); 2010 BMW 335d Sedan (bottom, by James Bergeron). Click image to enlarge
The 335d is BMW’s first North American diesel model in many years, but it’s a good one. This oil-burner was competing against the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon and the Mercedes-Benz E 350 sedan; while second and third place (Mercedes and Cadillac, respectively) were quite close, the BMW won by a solid margin, earned through the 335d’s low fuel consumption and terrific handling. It was also the least-expensive car here by about $7,500.
The Panamera was up against two sedans – BMW 750i and Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid – and one two-seater, the Audi R8 5.2 FSI. The Audi is an amazing car, but it was outclassed in this group of comfortable and capable sedans, and finished a distant third – a humbling thing for a car that was named Canadian Car of the Year (R8 4.2) just two years ago. It’s hard to argue against the Panamera’s win: the Turbo model Porsche entered is sexy and fast, and will carry four in comfort. It’s far more expensive than the BMW and Mercedes, but it actually earned highest points in this group for subjective value.
2010 Volkswagen GTI (top); 2010 Audi S4 (middle); 2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet (bottom); photos by James Bergeron. Click image to enlarge
In this category, success is all about packing the most performance into a car at the lowest possible price, so it’s not surprising that the GTI, Mazdaspeed3 and Hyundai Genesis Coupe finished one-two-three. The GTI was very clearly the best overall package, combining a terrific chassis with a powertrain that matched it without overpowering it. It’s worth noting, though, that first and third places were separated by just eight points. The other entries in this group, in order of finish, were the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, Chevrolet Camaro SS and Ford Taurus SHO.
Audi won this category by a whopping 50 points over the second place Mercedes-Benz E 550, with the Jaguar XFR placing just six points behind the Benz. The S4 didn’t run away with this win in any particular criteria, so I suspect that its significant margin came thanks to it being $17,000 less-expensive than the Benz, and a full $30,000 less than the Jaguar.
First and second place here went to two very different cars. The A5 is a four-seat cruiser with a four-cylinder engine, while the second-place Nissan 370Z Roadster is a two-seater with a sportier demeanor and a far more potent V6. While the Audi and the third-place Lexus IS 350C have a lot in common on paper, the Lexus loses in the looks department. The Audi’s four-cylinder, while the least powerful here, drives like a bigger engine and earned the Audi highest marks for fuel consumption.
The BMW 335d is a strong contender for CCOTY honours for its combination of the 3 Series’ benchmark on-road performance and a diesel engine that sips fuel while driving like a big-bore V8. The Panamera is another CCOTY candidate. While the Cayenne proved that Porsche could build an entertaining crossover, the Panamera is a far better fit with the Porsche image, as a builder of high-performance cars. The Panamera is a great all-round sports car, with comfortable seating for four and a large cargo area, all wrapped up in one sexy body. They’re both great cars, but I predict the BMW 335d will win 2010 Canadian Car of the Year.