By the Numbers: TCC's 6 Perfect 10s for Styling

July 7, 2010

What's it take to get a perfect 10?

Back before she became a thinky conservative, Bo Derek laid it out the rules for us all. Actually it's just one rule: you don't have to be particularly talented or smart, just quintessentially, no-excuses gorgeous. Get it right, and you can even put noisemakers in your hair and get away with it.

It's been more than 30 years since the idea of perfection was distilled down to a nude one-piece and those unbeweaveable beads, but good looks are something we're stuck on here at TheCarConnection. You know we rate cars so you don't have to, right? The first stop on our ruthless numeric scorecard is styling, and for good reason. It's probably the first thing that attracted you to your current car, even if it's a Caliber or a Focus or for heaven's sake, a Yaris.

To us, a perfect 10 means having a stunning body in all its different versions--but also, it has to have timeless appeal. Something that's a 10 today, has to be a 10 in the decades to come. In some years a car clearly would qualify (a 1967 Mustang fastback, for example). In other years it might come close (the 2011 Mustang comes to mind). In some it might just fail out (1977 King Cobra Mustang II, agreed?).

Truth be told, there are some unwritten ground rules: a perfect 10 usually has to have two doors, more often than not a removeable roof. And a touch of outrageousness doesn't hurt the chances. Maybe that's why only 2 percent of the cars we wrote about for the 2010 model year earned a perfect 10 for their looks. On the other hand, though we think we're handing out those 10s with the tight-fisted clench of a Czech skating judge, British cars seem to have the easiest path--though Germany and America have some extra credits to burn, too.

To the losers we say, try again. Corvettes, Mustangs, Challengers and Camaros of recent vintage come really close, as do cars like the new Buick Regal. But to our eyes, these are the best-looking new cars on earth:

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

2010 Porsche 911 Turbo

Porsche 911

How do you describe a 911's styling, apart from "singular?" With more than 40 years behind it, the 911 doesn't answer too many requests to change with the times. It rolls on, like a Mustang, confident in merely refining its classic shape, year after year. Sure, the Turbo is a little wider and a little lower (and Turbo-look packages are sure to spread to other models after this year), but all 911s are squat little teardrops, with front fenders that frame a narrow, single-minded view of the road ahead. In all, the 911 gets a score of 9, but for its timeless appeal, it's perfection.

2010 MINI Cooper Convertible

2010 MINI Cooper Convertible

MINI Cooper

For this year, or really since the hatchback was revamped in 2008, the MINI Cooper's styling hasn't changed much. And it doesn't need to--it's a picture-perfect homage to the original MINI, though it's grown considerably larger for the modern era, with its 15-inch wheels outsizing the original 10-inchers, and the higher front end couching all sorts of safety gear. It's a little kitschy--the smiling grille, the wide patches of chrome, the bug-eye headlamps--and utterly endearing. It's true inside, too, where the Cooper fits a dash that's wild with circles, winged shapes, chromed switches, and a 160-mph speedometer sitting dead center. You want fun? The MINI Cooper puts fun on every surface.

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

2010 Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin Rapide

Forget the nearly useless rear seats and the whole argument over which is bigger, the pricetag or the wheelbase. The Aston Martin Rapide is more purely stunning than anything you might seen in one of Europe's design capitals. With the Rapide, passenger space takes a literal and figurative back seat to the look--which is to say, it errs on the side of beauty. We're good with that, because from some angles, you can't even tell the Rapide is a four-door. It's as long as an S-Class, but three inches lower to the ground than a Ford Mustang. And it's clearly linked to the Aston DB9 which donated lots of inspiration and some mechanical pieces, including the VM architecture, on which it's based. The fact that it's the only sedan to earn a perfect 10 for styling should convince any automaker to stay as true to the concept car as possible.

2010 Dodge Viper

2010 Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

The Viper's been a brashly styled supercar from the moment it was born, back in 1989 as a concept car. Only two generations old, the Viper has been offered in the original, more cartoonish body style from the 1990s (which also came, briefly, as a roofed coupe), and in today's composite-fabricated shape, which is significantly cleaner, more streamlined, and maybe a little less outrageous than before--but still slack-jawed awesome. It's still the stuff of teenage car-doodling dreams, with that long, curvy hood and bubblicious roofline. We're much less in love with the chintzy cockpit, but short of growing real fangs, we find it hard to imagine a detail that would make the now-cancelled Viper any more menacing.

2010 Jaguar XKR

2010 Jaguar XKR

Jaguar XK and XKR

The Brits win again: convertible or coupe, the Jaguar XK is an aesthetic home run, a perfect 10 to our styling eye. From stunning curve to flowing line, there's barely a surface out of place on the XK coupe or convertible. From some angles it's pure Jaguar; from the rear quarter, the convertible has some Camaro emotion in its undulating panels. It's our top-rated sportscar here at TheCarConnection, and the goodness starts from first glance.

Audi R8 V10

Audi R8 V10

Audi R8

From its audacious silhouette, to the "sideblades" that give it a vertical visual calling card, the Audi R8 looks every bit the exotic, every bit the perfect-looking machine. Its low-flying wedge looks tailor-made for high-speed runs, and typical of Audi, even the most dramatic styling cues play some part in the car's staggering performance. Some excess exists, but not much--you might call the glass engine cover showy, while the rest of us admire how it puts the powerplant on jewel-box display. The same technical ethos colors the cabin; it's as useful and distinct as the one in theAcura NSX, with a low cowl and common-sense controls details by fine lines of chrome.

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