Five new designs that'll make you want to get behind the wheel again
By Kevin Sintumuang
Photographs by Christopher Griffith
No. 1: Because your children's children will drive cars like the Honda FC Sport
The near automotive future will almost certainly be electric. But what about the future future? Honda's betting it will run on hydrogen. The idea behind the FC Sport—the FC is for "fuel cell"—may seem as far-fetched as its Lambo-from-Mars exterior, but it makes sense. After all, the world has an unlimited supply of hydrogen, and a car powered by it won't spew a molecule of carbon dioxide from its tailpipe. It'll emit water. Of course, a hydrogen future will require a broad embrace of new technology—namely, building more fueling stations—but in some ways, that future is already here: Honda's other hydrogen car, the FCX Clarity, has been dripping H2O onto the streets of California since last year. And if you're wondering why the FC Sport looks nothing like any other vehicle you see today, it's because its design isn't dictated by a hulking combustion engine. The FC's hydrogen tanks, motor, and fuel cells are all tucked near the rear wheels, giving it the balance of a midengine supercar. This is hydrogen's most promising poster boy: great for the earth and for beating Gallardos off the line.
No. 2: Because the Chevy Camaro is this year's biggest hit (and it's from GM)
American car. Even if the sound of those words sometimes makes you cringe, if you own a Y chromosome, there's something about the new Camaro that will get you a little excited. Those taut expanses of sheet metal. The CinemaScope-like windshield. The prowling, athletic stance. It's the epitome of what a muscle car should look like, without being a paint-by-numbers copy of a classic. (We're looking at you, Dodge Challenger.) There's a lot of homage paid to the '69 Camaro, but from any angle you can't accuse the '10 of gazing anywhere but beyond its bulging hood toward the future. In fact, pop it open for more proof—this one has a 304-hp V-6 that gets 29 mpg. Yes, a muscle car that's more efficient than a Toyota Avalon. Cheaper, too—you can start burning rubber for around $23,000. Many car buyers were reluctant to buy from General Motors this past summer, except those who went to Chevy dealerships and peeled out in a Camaro. Nothing can get in the way of a man and a car like this. Not even bankruptcy.
No. 3: Because the 2010 Continental Supersports is Bentley's fastest car—and its greenest
The goal of the $267,000 Supersports? To be the ultimate Bentley. Thanks to a superfast gearbox, copious amounts of carbon fiber, and the artfully placed vents you see on the hood and front fascia, it reaches 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, making it the fastest car in the English company's fleet. It's also the most eco-friendly. Sure, this Supersports will never wear a green leaf on its rear—it's doubtful any car with a 621-hp W12 engine will earn that—but it can run on biofuel, plain ol' petrol, and any combination of the two. Bentley claims that if you measure biofuel's CO2 emissions on a "well-to-wheel" basis (which factors what it takes to process and transport the fuel), the car's emissions rival those of some hybrids. That might be some fuzzy math, but the Supersports is lighter, faster, and cleaner than any other...well, than any other Bentley. And if that keeps the ninety-year-old company in business when new emission standards begin, then we're all for it.
No. 4: Because the Fisker Karma is one of the most stunning sedans you'll ever see. Batteries included
Perhaps you've heard of the Chevy Volt? The car that purportedly gets 230 miles per gallon? Brilliant! But it has the looks only a Prius owner could love. For the eco-conscious who prefer a ride with sex appeal, there's the Fisker Karma. The first car from a California start-up headed by Henrik Fisker (who designed the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin V8 Vantage), the four-door Karma works the same way as the Volt—for the first fifty miles, it runs on batteries, after which a small gas engine kicks in—it just does so in a more luxurious and ferocious way. It boasts 403 hp and 959 ft-lb of torque (a 911 Turbo has 500 ft-lb) and can get up to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Its interior is cooled by solar panels, and it's finished in wood reclaimed from the bottom of Lake Michigan and vegetable-tanned leather from—we kid you not—grass-fed, free-roaming beasts Fisker calls "happy cows." There is some debate as to whether the Fisker will beat the Volt to market next year, but there's none as to which the valets will be jostling to park.
No. 5: Because cars like the Bugatti Grand Sport will continue to be made, recession be damned
Many cars are fast. A few are insanely fast. And then there's the Bugatti Grand Sport, which, to put it simply, distorts time and space. Stomp on the gas and, if you can reattach your retinas, look into the rearview mirror and you will see the world you just left grow smaller and more distant, warping from the heat coming off the 16-cylinder, 1,001-hp engine directly behind your head. This is what jet fighters must feel like when they look down after takeoff, you think, except you can feel the wind go through your hair. The Grand Sport—shown here with its removable top in place—is the convertible version of the $1.7 million Veyron, Bugatti's return to the motoring world. The price: $2.1 million. Yes, that's insane. Obscene, even. But as you become accustomed to its power (0 to 62 mph in 2.7 seconds), its engine rumbling while simultaneously breathing in and exhaling air like a dragon blowing steam (those are the turbo chargers), you realize: This isn't a car—it's a benchmark. And call it ambition or arrogance, we're glad someone set a new one.
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