A decade is a long time, especially in the auto industry where technological developments accelerate the rate at which automakers churn out newer models and upgrades and variants. But there are some classic models which simply refuse to fade away amongst the throng of younger vehicles hitting the street every business quarter. Here is our pick of the cars that entered our lives and changed the way we drive in the last decade.
1. Mini Cooper
The Mini was manufactured by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and the brands that took over from it from 1959 right down to the year 2000. What made the small car such a potent symbol of Britain itself in the 60s was not only the fact that it was sold widely in the nation but also that it led to the evolution of similarly-shaped cars that also went on to become icons in their own right, example, the Citroen DS3 and the Fiat 500. Built on a space-saving front-wheel-drive platform, the Mini allows 80% of the of its floor pan area to be used for passengers and cargo which makes it ideal for city dwellers.
2. BMW 3-Series
A compact executive car tat first made a public debut in May ‘75, the BMW 3 Series was dubbed a successor to the BMW New Class when it was first launched. The car was created as something of a response to the 1973 oil crisis and looked to provide customers with fuel economy along with the comfort and class of a bigger gas guzzler. With over five generations and five different makeovers to date, the 3 Series is by far BMW's best selling vehicle bringing the company countless automotive world awards and honors as well accounting for almost 40% of the firm’s car sales in 2005.
3. Mercedes SL
A grand tourer first produced by Mercedes in 1954, the ‘SL’ in Mercedes-Benz SL comes from the German word Sport Leicht, which translates to Sport Lightweight in English. The designation was first given to the 300SL 'Gullwing' and the moniker has since snapped five design generations as well as numerous engine configurations and marketing variations. With an extensive face lift in 2008, the SL returned to its roots with new front end that was reminiscent of the classic 300SL though the new headlamps, a speed sensitive steering system and Intelligent Light System that catered both to classicists as well as modernists.
4. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf was first launched in 1974 and has been reintroduced to the world in under various monikers and various body configurations across six generations. The front-wheel driven small family car was the first successful successor to Volkswagen's historic best-selling model, the Beetle. Launched initially as a 3-door hatchback, the Golf has appeared in a notchback saloon/sedan derivation, convertible, and a 5-door hatchback wagon/estate model till date. Though only the Golf Mk3 won the European Car of the Year award in ’92, almost every generation of the car has been in the top three at the award since its launch.
5. Toyota Prius
The first mass-produced hybrid vehicle that rolled off the showrooms in 1997 in Japan, the Prius was launched worldwide in 2001 and has since been among the cleanest vehicles sold in the US as rated by the California Air Resources Board and EPA. The celebrity-endorsed Prius today is sold in more than 70 countries with its third-gen model launched in ’09 also hitting 1 million sales mark worldwide. Formerly a compact sedan, the full hybrid electric is now one of the world’s premier mid-size hatchbacks.
6. Mazda RX-8
The Mazda RX-8 first debuted in 2001 at the North American International Auto Show and it was launched as a production model in 2004. The popular sports car is powered by a Wankel engine and has proven to be just as popular as its predecessors.
7. Porsche 911 GT3
Running on a 3.6L naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine based on the Porsche 911 GT1 and Porsche 962 race cars, the legend of the road-legal Porsche 911 sports car began in 1973 with the 911 RS. The high performance Porsche 911 GT3 has continued in the same glorious vein as its predecessors having added three racing and two road models to the current range since its launch in 1999.
8. Chrysler 300
Designed by Ralph Gilles, the Chrysler 300 first debuted as a concept at the 2003 New York Auto Show. The full-size luxury car began retailing in early 2004 as a 2005 model year vehicle. Based on the Chrysler LX RWD platform, the new 300 was created as a high-end sedan with components derived from the Mercedes-Benz W220 S-Class.
9. Bugatti Veyron EB16.4
Dubbed Car of the Decade (2000–2009) by Top Gear, a reputed BBC television programme, the Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 is based on the Bentley Hunaudieres concept. Produced by Bugatti Automobiles SAS, the car was developed and designed by the Volkswagen Group. The mid-engined grand touring car’s Super Sport cousin is the fastest road-legal production car on the planet.
10. Ferrari 458 Italia
Created to replace the Ferrari F430, the Ferrari 458 Italia was officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2009. Though intended as a successor to the F430, the mid-engined sports car features completely new body design and boasts of technologies fine-tuned by the Formula 1 wing of the Italian sports car manufacturer.