1. Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Purity of form—billowing fenders, teardrop windows, and almond headlamps, among other things—and the perfect positioning of details are what makes the 8C so sexy. Its wheels, for example, are already regarded by our staff as among the 10 hottest, and its lower air intakes could quite possibly bring the mustache back in vogue. Given the shapely sheetmetal, it hardly even matters, but what’s underhood is nearly as splendid as the wrapper: a sonorous 4.7-liter V-8 that is closely related to the engine found in another car on this list, the Maserati GranTurismo, as well as several Ferraris
2. Aston Martin DBS
Short of poaching the entire design staff from BMW, Aston Martin couldn’t design an ugly car if it put the wheels on the roof. And its newest flagship, the DB9-based DBS, is one of the most beautiful Astons yet. At more than $260,000, it’s just about the most expensive, too, until the million-dollar One-77 is unveiled, anyway. Carbon fiber is the dominant material for the body of this quintessential gentleman’s grand tourer, and its brilliant, classic proportions are blessed with better curves than a Bond girl and a more chiseled jaw than Double-O himself. Embellishing those big hips and shoulders are details to die for (another day, presumably), including lacy 20-inch wheels, upward-swinging doors, and perfectly situated, fully functional ducts and grilles.
Few brand names in the automobile business—or any business, for that matter—can match the bitchy, prosodic fabulousness of “Maserati.” And few cars in the world can match the voluptuous regality of Maserati’s GranTurismo. In other words, it’s beautiful whether you’re saying it or seeing it. Compared with the similarly designed Aston Martin DBS (long hood, front-midship engine layout), the GranTurismo succeeds not with ornamentation but through the emotional, almost whimsical curvature of its plus-size body.
4. Aston Martin V-8 Vantage
It is entirely accurate to consider Aston Martin’s little V-8 Vantage a seven-eighths-scale DB9. Roughly the same size as a Nissan 350Z and only a little bit quicker, the V-8 Vantage is nonetheless much, much pricier. So how can Aston get away with charging $80,000 more for the V-8 Vantage? Simple: The V-8 Vantage is absolutely gorgeous. With the same long-hood, short-deck formula as that of its larger sibling, but with a slightly different styling edge in the form of large wheels and a ducktail tush, the V-8 Vantage offers a rarely achieved balance of beauty and sportiness, proving that classic GT proportions are indeed scalable.
5.Pontiac Solstice Coupe
Although most of the cars in this group are rather costly, beautiful cars are not the exclusive domain of the rich. For proof, we submit Pontiac’s upcoming Solstice coupe. Little more than a Solstice convertible with a bit more sheetmetal and cargo space, the Solstice coupe joins the Cayman in proving that more is indeed more when it comes to beauty. With well-integrated rear flanks, a radius-edged liftback window, and a double-bubble targa top, the hardtop corrects the Solstice convertible’s greatest flaw: its wretched fabric roof, which neither fits nor looks right.
6. Audi S5
Current Audi/Lamborghini/SEAT design chief Walter de’Silva has designed many beautiful cars during his illustrious career. But even after designing the mouthwatering Audi R8, de’Silva himself called the Audi S5, along with its less powerful, somewhat more subdued A5 twin, the most beautiful car he has ever penned.
One of the most passionate designs ever to come out of Germany, the S5 wears a perfect balance of masculine and feminine elements, mixing a strong, assertive gaze with elegantly flowing fenders and a thick fuselage offset with delicate brightwork. Sporty accents to the S5 include a squared-off chin, subtle sill extensions, a slightly longer decklid, and four wonderfully vocal tailpipes—all without detracting from the coupe’s innate beauty. Best of all, it sets the tone for the styling of Audi’s lineup henceforth.
7. Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
Beauty is seldom encountered among four-doors since, in the car world, accumulating doors usually means subtracting style. But the Mercedes-Benz CLS-class proves that sedans can be beautiful, too. Sure, the CLS cheats a bit, achieving its captivating looks by incorporating some coupe-derived design elements such as a low, chopped roof and slim windows, and this translates into a cramped rear seat that holds only two people—short people. This car is best enjoyed from the outside, where light streaks over spectacular arching body contours like shooting stars. It is at once delightfully simple and wonderfully extravagant, and we celebrate it as an experiment in style that went very, very well. Fast forward to Pebble Beach 2058, and you can bet there will be a CLS or two on the lawn.
8. Porsche Cayman
The Boxster is bitchin’, but the Cayman is beautiful. Yes, they’re more or less the same car, but the Cayman proves there’s something about a well-rendered roof that takes a good-looking car and drops it off at the doorstep of gorgeous. In our book, it is just as purposeful but even more sexy than—dare we say it?—its big brother, the legend itself, the Porsche 911 Carrera.Blessed as it is with balanced mid-engine proportions, roof contours that drip down into the swollen fenders, and a smart, determined gaze, the Cayman makes its driver look as good as he or she feels. And as we’ve said many times before, when you drive one, you feel pretty good.
Before the R8, the thought of Audi building a credible supercar was audacious enough. That it could make one that would be so arousingly beautiful was simply unfathomable. But with the R8, Audi has brought the world a car that performs like a true supercar and is sculpted in double-take sheetmetal. Certainly helpful is the fact that Audi owns Lamborghini and thus has proven supercar innards—in this instance, those of the Gallardo—at its disposal, as well as a number of excellent powertrains capable of launching the aluminum-bodied sexpot forward as if it were shot from a cannon. All that was left, then, was to wrap it in something beautiful.
10. Lotus Elise/2009 Ariel Atom
Beauty is not always purely a matter of the aesthetic. To those more technically minded (as are several of our editors—Csere, VanderWerp, you know who you are), beauty can be a more cerebral, associative, objective factor. Although the eensy, insectile Lotus Elise and the skeletal Ariel Atom are not necessarily beautiful in the traditional sense, the fact that they weigh next to nothing yet offer more power than many sport-utilities can make a math-minded car enthusiast drool at the sight of their unconventional bodies like Pavlov’s dogs in a bell factory. We’re talking 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds for the 2000-pound Elise and three seconds flat in the 1400-pound, 245-hp Atom