Top Five

by Ian Harding

Every day I walk to work, there are only two things to do. Think, and observe. More often that not I’m thinking about what I’m observing. And more often than not, I’m observing every vehicle that I come across. Everyone knows that guys love cars, and it is clear that they have strong opinions about what’s cool and what’s not. Don’t get me wrong; I know girls can love cars too. So brace yourself ladies and gents for a quick overview of my top five best and worst cars of 2004. Not vehicles in general, just cars. Believe me, the Honda Element would automatically reserve top spot for the worst, with the Pontiac Aztek right on it’s lame ass.

Top 5 Best:

Mercedes SL600

#1 – Mercedes Benz SL600 Roadster

Number one and rightly so. This car packs more features into it than Takeru Kobayashi at a hot dog eating competition. Sure the SL600 comes with all the cool tech-gear: a hands-free, voice-control V60 cell phone, radar-based cruise control, active-ventilated seats with massage functions, a COMAND DVD in-dash navigation system, and even an infrared rain sensor. However, I assure you that these aren’t the reasons this machine is number one on my list.

The SL600 is quite simply, the next best thing to an exotic. Even though it’s priced at $184K CAN, it still never ceases to amaze me just how hot this car really is. It may not have the uniqueness of a Porsche or the styling of a Ferrari, but its smooth and sexy curves are enough to make any man want to marry it. If you ever get the opportunity to plop your poor ass behind the wheel of an SL600, be prepared. This rear-wheel drive Benz houses a twin turbo-charged 5.5L, 36 valve V12 power plant that kicks out 493 hp at a mere 5,000 rpm. That’s enough horsepower to make you gasp for air as it does 0-60 in only 4.5 seconds.

Corvette Z06

#2 – Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Corvette? I know. I know? the typical American dream car. Just hear me out. This is the one car that I’ve actually had the privilege of driving, and I’ll tell ya, it’s hard to put into words the feeling you get when you take the wheel. The Z06 simply belongs on the racetrack. A head-up instrument display makes it easy for those of you too lazy to watch the speedometer as it speeds towards the red line.

Looking for luxury? You won’t find any wood paneling or GPS navigation in this car. Purely based on power and performance, the Z06’s 5.7L, V8 that produces 405 hp at 6000 rpm, can jump the 0-60 in 3.9 seconds. That’s enough to leave the SL600 still at the line with a wet crotch. I like to think of this car as a rabid pit bull on a leash. Pulling and tugging, just itching for you to release it so it can take off at top speed. Just make sure you have a firm grip on the wheel, and a sturdy foot on the clutch. If you don’t, the Z06 will quite simply, make you its bitch.

Mitsubishi Eclipse

#3 – Mitsubishi Eclipse

Finally an affordable, average car that more people can relate to. Getting away from the $70K and up sports cars, the Eclipse has secured a place in my top five. For the longest time the Eclipse was just a mirage on the horizon to me. I viewed it as cool and mysterious and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted one.

The Eclipse has a 3.0L, 24-valve V6. Nothing overly crazy, but the 210 hp it produces far surpasses the barely 96 hp that a 1992 Cavalier can push out. It also comes equipped with a 210-watt Infinity sound system for those looking for a pre-pimped ride. But what really sets this car off has to be the side door panels. The Spyder convertible is pretty cool too, since being able to cruise with the top down in the hot summer is definitely a must when looking to cruise the town. Tosum it up, the 5-speed GT manual Eclipse, with it’s slick 17-inch polished alloy wheel rims has me saving my pennies.

Mazda RX-8

#4 – Mazda RX-8

For both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons, the RX-8 has its place at number four on my top five. First the obvious; the RX-8 is a sports car with four doors. Everybody knows it. It’s one of the main selling points that Mazda emphasizes when marketing the car. Much like a four-seated sedan on the inside, the RX-8 hides an extra set of half-size freestyle doors that open backwards.

The not so obvious reason can found by asking this question: What does an RX-8 say to a traditional cylinder piston engine? If you said something along the lines of, “Screw off!” or “Beat it, loser”, then you’re on the right track. The RX-8 doesn’t need any pistons because it takes advantage of a rotary engine. A traditional 4-stroke piston engine does four jobs in one cylinder whereas the housing in a rotary engine has a different spot for each of the four stages of a “stroke” (intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust). The rotary engine is smaller and lighter weight, so the overall curb weight of the car is substantially lighter than, say, a Z06? giving the RX-8 a top speed of 146 mph and a spot in my top five.

Dodge Viper

#5 – Dodge Viper SRT-10

What the hell is THIS car doing here you ask? I know, I know? I actually almost took this choice off of the top five. I mean, let’s face it? yet another car that tips the $100K scales that rarely anyone with get the opportunity to drive; hence my reasoning for it remaining. This car is viewed as something that everyone dreams of driving and never gets the chance. Who wouldn’t want its 8.3L, 500 hp V10 engine at their fingertips? Even though I would never by this car myself (if I had the cash) I still admire it and all the respect it gets. And by respect I mean the attention of every human being within a 2 mile radius that can hear it growl, or the people who are within viewing range that get sore necks from staring at it.

Top 5 Worst:

Toyota ECHO

#1 – Toyota ECHO

Man oh man. What a great car? for someone who is 4’6, lives alone and has nothing but a book for a companion. I mean common, driving a car that only has a 1.5L, 4-cylinder has got to have its frustrations. This thing isn’t even high enough to reach a drive through window at McDonalds. In fact I don’t have anything nice to say about this car. The thought of having a centered instrument panel makes me cringe. I used to work at a GM dealership, and I despised driving a Saturn ION (a car with the same panel placement). This is, in my opinion, the worst spot for the most important instruments of the vehicle. And your going and making the driver have to look further from the road? You’ve got to turn your whole damn head to see this thing! Anyway? number one on my worst list!


#2 – Chevrolet Aveo

“Cool things come in small packages”, says General Motors when describing the Aveo. Well guess what, I’ll tell you something else that comes in small packages? or better yet, comes WITH small packages, and that is any man who has ever thought about, or purchased one of these cars. I have a question. Were the designers at General Motors munchin’ on some special brownies while coming up with this car? No wait, maybe it’s because the Aveo is manufactured by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology at the Daewoo Incheon Motors plant in Bupyung, Korea. That’s it! This car is SMALL. We aren’t in Europe people. We’re in North America and in this land we make top quality cars. Ok, that last part isn’t exactly true since Italy and Germany make the top cars in the world. Anyway, GM shouldn’t be making a car like the Aveo.

Kia Rio

#3 – Kia Rio Cinco

Kia Rio wha? Oh, Spanish? OK. So in English it translates to Kia Rio Five. Kia dubbed the name Cinco from the Rio’s ability to “comfortably” seat five people. HA. Why not just make the Rio a mini-van. “But I thought it was a mini van?” Nope. This thing is simply a small wagon with, get this, a “digital clock”. This is actually listed as a main feature on Would a digital clock push you to by a Rio over something else? I think not? I do think that Kia should make up its mind and either produce a wagon or a mini van. Not something that looks like an inbred combination of the two.

Toyota Prius

#4 – Toyota Prius

Ah the Prius. Yet another fine product of Toyota that simply takes up space on the road. Not only do I have to deal with Sunday driver’s on weekdays, but I also now have to drive behind a car with two power sources, that can barely achieve 76 hp when it revs at 5000 rpm. I could jog from 0 – 60 faster than this piece of metal. Have you even seen the instrument panel in this thing? Oh riiight. You CAN’T, because it’s tucked inside a horizontal slot in the dash. Not that you would ever need to monitor your speed in this car anyway. The electric motor gets the car rolling and by the time the gas engine kicks in to take over, the three year old in the back seat has already read a novel, been married and divorced, twice, and has decided on what their life goals will be. The only real cool thing about the Prius is the available option of having a voice operated navigation system.

Beetle aka Flower Power

#5 – Volkswagen Beetle ? the NEW one

Ya, that’s right. You, with the flower! THE FLOWER! Need I say more?

  • Top Five
  • by Ian Harding
  • Published on March 1st, 2005

More from :

Other recent features: