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RawAutos 2007 Car of the Year Awards!

2007 was a wild year in so many ways. The horrible shootings at Virginia Tech took place, Nancy Pelosi became the first speaker of the house, California almost burned down, I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minnesota collapsed, the New England Patriots became just the second team in NFL history to go undefeated in the regular season and I turned 21. Last year was also, just like any other year, a big year for new model cars. Plenty of new cars were released, some to good reviews and some to bad ones also. This is the first ever Car of the Year awards held by RawAutos.com. Some of these you may not view as exact 2007 first year models, because some are considered 2008’s like the Audi A5/S5, but, it was on the road in 2007 and did battle, so therefore it makes it eligible.

This past year was a very big year for quite a few automakers. BMW released its more powerful 3-Series E92 coupe and E93 hardtop-convertible along with more powerful engines for the E90 sedan as well. Audi like BMW released some new cars and updates, two of their new vehicle lines are the R8 to so much critical acclaim and the A5 and S5 to just as much public view. Lamborghini came out with its super Gallardo in the Superleggera. Porsche had the 911 Turbo that defied all odds. Rolls-Royce came out with the awe inspiring Drophead Coupé. And Infiniti was just as hard at it as anyone else, their mission to create the new G35 sedan and G37 coupe to beat BMW at their own game.

Every automaker was up to lots of good in 07, but, few really matched the level that Audi went after the world. They opened up new development opportunities for themselves by installing more dealerships and made their cars much sportier in every way to compete with BMW. Of course their interiors remained perfect and elegant as they always are.

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The Audi A5 came out to make a coupe version of the popular A4 to compete with the BMW 3-Series. The 3-Series has always provided the benchmark for sport coupes and Audi was out to overthrow them as the kings. The standard A5 came with the same AWD just like the A4 and a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic to go along with the 3.2l V6 with 265hp and 243lb-ft of torque. The S5 comes standard with AWD and a 6-speed manual only and really packs in the horses with a 354hp 325lb-ft of torque 4.2l V8. Audi has gotten into a new theme of pushing the engine as far back into the middle as possible while still being front-engined. The Audi S5 has done intense battles with the BMW E92 335i, and has shown what Audi can really do when they set their minds to something. The cars are so beautiful and provide a good background to what Audi has planned for the 2009 A4 and the rest of the lineup.

The Audi R8 is a familiar name. You may know the name from the famous ALMS (American Le Mans Series) race car that bore the same name, but, not the engine. The R8 is Audi’s way of saying “move over Porsche, we are going after the world ourselves.” Since Audi owns part of Lamborghini with VW, some of the R8 driving components, including the transmission are shared with the Gallardo. Not that that’s a bad thing, because Audi helped create the Gallardo to begin with and it’s all from Audi’s parts bin anyways. The R8 goes fantastically with a 4.2l V8 that pushes 420hp and 317lb-ft of torque, attached to the revolutionary Audi AWD system. This little mid-engine pocket rocket flies to 60 in about 4 seconds on its way to 187mph top speed according to Audi. The R8 is without a doubt the supercar of the future. It has LED daytime running lights that will start becoming standard on all Audis soon. Basically the R8 is a more refined; more German Lamborghini Gallardo mixed with a little Porsche 911 every day usability. I say perfection with AWD and a manual tranny. All this and it’s still the slowest car that Audi has ever built.

0702_b2007_rolls_royce_drophead_coupe1.jpgRolls-Royce, what more can you say? We all know of the Phantom. We all know how luxurious it is, how stylish it is and well, how expensive it is as well. The Drophead Coupé is no different. With its 6.75l V12 borrowed from the Phantom it has 460hp and 531lb-ft of torque that makes it best of propelling the 5700lb car anywhere it goes. 60 comes in only 5.7s according to Rolls-Royce and it hauls to an impressive 14.0s ¼ mile and a 149mph top speed. This is an oddly awesome car. Sure, it really has nothing to do with any of the other cars on this list; really it has nothing to do with any other car produced in the world. It just simply is a very cool car. Costing well over 500,000 dollars, this is the car to have if you just want to cruise in a car that is as classy as a yacht. That much money and why still a soft-top? Simple, RR says that a soft-top is beautiful, classy and never ages. A hardtop is just that. Rolls wanted a convertible, not an identity crisis on which car it would be today, a hardtop or a convertible. There is a teak wood deck lid that covers the convertible top that has to be specially oiled and waxed at different intervals of service. There is also a stainless steel hood and grill that don’t come cheap either. By far the coolest thing though is the doors, they open suicidal and just engulf you into the car.

Lamborghini Gallardo, a name that makes you sweat just when saying it. The simple Italian and Spanish thrown together sound so orgasmic. Add the word Superleggera to that. It sounds so sexy. And then you start the car up and you bleed from your ears it’s so loud. They say you can hear the exhaust note from over a mile away, treacherous I say. Lamborghini made their new SL to compete directly with the new F430 Scuderia. The SL does well with being on the weight watchers diet, and shaving over 150lbs by using carbon fiber trim all over the body and carbon ceramic disc brakes, while adding 10 horsepower to the mix to make 530. The E-gear transmission is now standard and shifts a little quicker, thanks to updated software. The interior is lined in Alcantara. So all in all this car uses a lot of fancy words, and still manages to produce a 3.5s 0-60 and a top speed in the Lambo tradition of over 200mph.

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The Porsche 911 has for many years now been the benchmark for everyday drivability in an exotic like sports car. It comes as no surprise then that the new 997 911 Turbo came out to rave reviews and people hailing it as the best performance car in the world. Of course it was amazing, simply that it could do 3.4s to 60 with a new automatic gearbox that is smarter than the average driver, or a 6-speed manual with all sorts of tech gadgets to launch it correctly and even a button to give you more torque when needed. The turbo is all new, and has a special VTG (Variable Turbine Geometry) which is a turbine system that opens up the turbo blades at higher speeds to maximize the breathing of the engine and ensure no turbo lag. Porsche has once again done it, they threw 480hp with 460lb-ft of torque or 505lb-ft of torque with the optional Sport Chrono Package that adds a nice track timer and the button that I mentioned earlier to allow you to gain 45 more lb-ft of torque for 10 seconds. All of this into a small 3.6l six cylinder rear mounted engine. The car can do 193mph and turns a Nürburgring lap time in just 7:40. That is booking it I say. There are plenty of computers that measure the entire cars road going habits and constantly measure everything to help keep you safer, especially with the AWD system. The car also comes with carbon ceramic disc brakes as an option to help stop you better than the rest.

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On now to the two cars that have challenged BMW more so than anyone else. Please welcome the all new Infiniti G35 Sport sedan and the G37 Sport coupe. The old G35 was either a coupe or sedan, but, Infiniti realized that in order to keep up with Bimmer, they had to create two totally different cars just like BMW. The G35 offers a 306hp 268lb-ft of torque V6 engine that is good for 5.4s 0-60’s in a 3500lb car, and offers a much sportier ride then its predecessor with a smoother manual transmission and better automatic. The best thing about the car is the interior. It didn’t change much from the old car. It did however add better sport seats that now fold out behind your knees just like BMW’s sport seats. The G37 on the other hand is a radical change. It is aggressive on the outside and just as elegant on the inside as the G35. Motor Trend did dub it the king killer, and they believed that it was better than the 335i Sport BMW. The car is a little faster than the G35 making due with a 330hp 270lb-ft of torque 3.7l V6 pushing the 3600lb car to about a 5.2s 0-60. The biggest advantage of the cars is that the G35 has a base price of $32,400 for the Sport 6MT while the coupe bases out at $35,550 for the Sport 6MT. Not bad for cars that are about as quick as the BMW 335i. Costing less and performing as well is a big seller in any market.

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Last but not least on this list is the one and only BMW 3-Series. BMW has gone against all of its criticisms and look at them. Everyone went nuts over their crazy and wild designs, now everyone is designing cars just like them. Every car since the 2003 745i has a wild butt and a crazy looking face. For the 3-Series though enthusiasts and everyday people alike were shocked to see such a subtle and sleek design come out. People still talk badly about the E90 3-Series (E90=sedan, E92=coupe and E93=hardtop convertible), but, the E92 and E93 has quitted a lot of people. The drive is so much better than people expected too. With an all new twin-turbocharged inline 6 that produces 300hp and 300lb-ft of torque. Automobile magazine did a dyno run of the E92 335i when they first got hold of one and the figures came in to show the horsepower was 275 and 299lb-ft of torque all at the rear wheels. The new 3-Series convertible shined through with a new hardtop convertible, and also the first in its class to do so. For 2007 the 335i wasn’t the only big name of the 3ers in the news. The E90 328i was in there quite a bit beating the G35 in a Car and Driver comparison test, even though it had less power and was a tad slower to 60. Also the 328i beat the all new Cadillac CTS, G35 (again!) and the Mercedes-Benz C300 in another C&D test. All cars were equipped with manuals and sport packages. The 328i was the 2nd fastest of the group with only 2 more horsepower than the lowest rated MB C300 at 228. The 328i does very well with 230hp and 200lb-ft of torque.

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So who is the winner here? We have plenty of great cars. No shortage of horsepower or enthusiast drive for any one of these amazing cars. There can only be one winner. Wait a minute; this is the RawAutos Car of the Year Awards. By my count there is a tie. Welcome the BMW 3-Series and the Audi R8. Both cars deserve this award more than the others. The R8 came into its own showing the world what it had while being under powered and having AWD instead of RWD like most of the other major sports cars out there. It comes in with the most beautiful design of the year and shows what Audi can do. Now the 3-Series isn’t an all new car like the R8, but, it has successfully for decades now shoved off the competition and has been awarded 16 straight ten best award years by Car and Driver. There is no real competition to the BMW simply because it is its own competition. Once the other automakers start trying to be less like BMW and more like themselves they will finally have competition, until that day comes the Bimmer is the clear cut winner. Thank you to Audi and BMW for producing the two best cars of 2007.

I hope you enjoyed the awards ceremony and keep coming back to RawAutos.com, “Where the fables stop and the truth begins.”

-Josh

Photos courtesy of: http://www.automobilemag.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0609_2007_bmw_335i_coupe_dynamometer_chart/index.html

http://blogs.automotive.com//miscellaneous/2008-audi-a5-fast-luxurious-starting-under-40000/index.html

http://www.germancarblog.com/2007/05/audi-s5-comparison-against-bmw-335i.html

http://www.edbmw.com/blog/2007/06/27/g37-vs-bmw-3-series/

http://digiads.com.au/car-news/latest-INFINITI-news/Infiniti_G35_/photos_0.html

http://www.vtm.be/auto/forum/showthread.php?t=19380

http://www.ziomal.itl.pl/opisy/prezentacje/E90_335i/BMW_335i_sedan15.jpg

http://www.motortrend.com/features/112_0706_americas_best_handling_car/photo_24.html

http://www.motortrend.com/features/112_0706_americas_best_handling_car/photo_24.html

http://www.speedtv.com/articles/automotive/newmodels/29728/

http://www.automobilemag.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/0702_2007_rolls_royce_drophead_coupe/index.html

http://www.channel4.com/4car/gl/audi/r8/7779/4