If beauty is pain, there are just some cars worth suffering.
Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Lotus—we're looking at you. But our list of the best-looking cars for 2016 don't make many sacrifices at the altar of attractive shapes—besides copious amounts of money for some. Have four reasonably working limbs? You can drive all of these cars.
As regulations dictate much about the shapes of cars on the road today—lower bumpers for pedestrian crash safety, fewer right angles for fuel efficiency, etc.—there's little room for individuality or interpretation on common design. Frankly, it's hard to tell the difference between some sedans and SUVs from several automakers around the globe.
But all things being equal, some cars look more equal than others. These cars aced (or nearly aced) our style-o-meter, and drew gasps nearly everywhere we took them.
Here are the cars we lusted after in 2016, in no particular order whatsoever.
The low, wide nose of the new Acura NSX doesn't just cut a shape for Acura's halo car—it cuts a shape for supercars to come. It may not share many elements from the original NSX from 20 years ago besides the placement of its engine, but the new NSX reminds us of the old one in a very specific way: both look equally special on the road. The new NSX derives much of its style from aerodynamics, but elements such as the side mirrors and big air intakes are wholly for dramatic effect. Well done.
2017 BMW i8
The BMW i8 still manages to turn heads on the road, even three years after its debut. The fuel-efficient hybrid has supercar looks—even if it doesn't have supercar speed. Although its prohibitively high price contributes to its relative rarity, the i8 still looks special on the road thanks to its flying buttresses in the rear, impossibly low shape, and those butterfly doors. Pull up in one and everyone will think you've arrived from the future.
Aston Martin Vanquish S
Most of Aston Martin's story has been a labor of love. In the company's legendary history spanning more than century, the automaker has only been truly profitable for fewer than a handful of years. Profitability may have eluded the automaker, but not beauty. The 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish is the company's flagship V-12 model—for now—and reads like a greatest hits album. The iconic slanted grille, long hood, graceful arches, and wide hips all make the Vanquish more than a beautiful car; it's just a beautiful thing.
2017 Aston Martin DB11
In the past, you could have been forgiven for mistaking one Aston Martin model for another, but the 2017 Aston Martin DB11 changes that. The newest supercar from the Gaydon, England stable is a new generation for the automaker—one that'll even include an SUV. The DB11 doesn't share much with the Aston Martin range, and that's why it sits on our list alongside the Vanquish. The sportscar dimensions are all there, but lead designer Marek Reichmann used the "golden section" with devastating effect: the long, single-piece hood stretches on seemingly forever, and the window line crawls all the way up two-thirds of the car. We can't wait for more.
2017 Dodge Viper
This may be the snake's last year on the road, but the shape will live on forever. Dodge's supercar aced our styling scale because—well, just look at it. It makes no promises about versatility, practicality, or comfort beyond the small cockpit perched between a neutron bomb under the hood and the tires you'll eventually ruin in the back. The passenger cabin is full of compromises, and the side-ported exhausts may not have been the best idea so close to the cabin, but the Viper is—and always will be—a stunner because it refuses to settle on looks or speed.
2017 Porsche 718 Boxster, Guards red
Porsche's perfected sports car hasn't changed much in the 20 years it's been on the roads, but every angle, crease, and opening on the 718 (nee Boxster, Cayman) has been massaged for 2017. What's left is a near-perfect expression of what a sports car should be without much drama or drawing attention to itself. The smooth lines up front give way to muscular curves in the back, but unlike other Porsches, the 718 looks approachable to just about any driver.
2016 Audi S7
Many have tried the "four-door coupe" idea, but Audi seemingly perfected it. The gorgeous fastback shape on the outside is only made better on the inside with top-shelf materials and Audi's understated interior that reads elegant—not lazy. The A7's look on the road is so nice, Audi will do it twice: an A5 Sportback that's takes the A7 look and copy-shrinks it 30 percent is due on the roads next year. And that's before we've even talked about the performance, which is equally breathtaking in top trims.
2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR first drive review
2017 Jaguar F-Type SVR first drive review
We haven't yet found an angle that makes the Jaguar F-Type look bad. If you'd like to try, go ahead—we'll wait here. Back already? See what we mean? The Jaguar F-Type doesn't add much to the typical sports car formula, but it's hard to improve on perfection. There are hints to the classic E-Type all over the F-Type, and despite the car's modern-sportscar look it's all very organic. The F-Type is especially spectacular in coupe form, but we wouldn't begrudge anyone buying the drop-top—it's the best way to experience the Jag's mellifluous engine notes.
2017 Audi R8, Asheville to Daytona part III
In its latest generation, Audi did away with some of the things that made the first R8 beautiful to us—gated shifter, the tall side strakes, and front intakes—and replaced them, with well, not much. The newest R8 is understated like Erik Satie, and almost nearly as brilliant. The simple supercar shape is there, same goes for the mid-engine placement, but the R8 manages to be gorgeous because it isn't outrageous. In extensive testing, we found that the R8 was so organic in its movements and character it lulls others into thinking that it's not special. Spoiler: It is.
2017 Land Rover Range Rover
It's the first and only SUV on our list simply because the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover's shape will never get old. The Range Rover looks just as striking now as it did 40 years ago, except now it's equally impressive in the valet lot as it is traversing the Kalahari. The look outside may not be as daring as, say a Mercedes-Benz G Class, but the Range Rover covers more ground inside. It's simple, elegant, and impressive. What more do you want?