Now in its 12th year, the annual Ward's 10 Best Engines competition continues as the industry barometer of powertrain development.

Although little has changed about the competition, itself, 2006's 10 Best Engines are evidence that meaningful change is enveloping the industry's powertrain sector.

First, four of the 10 Best Engines employ forced induction — a new record for the list. This is significant because it indicates a trend toward the downsized engines and higher specific output some powertrain analysts have predicted.

Certainly 2005's high-profile run-up in fuel prices increased the public's attention on fuel economy, but recent events that affected fuel prices could not have influenced the engineering development of the winning engines, which began years ago.

Forced induction — turbocharging, specifically — also is the “companion” technology to the powertrain sector's other emerging trend: direct injection gasoline (DIG) fuel delivery.

The number of DIG engine variants in North America and the rest of the world is quickly blossoming as the technology merges the attributes, to some degree, of spark-ignition and compression-ignition engines. Three of this year's 10 Best Engines feature DIG technology, and we expect more in the future.

For 2006, Ward's 10 Best Engines judges nominated and tested 31 engines that must be available in regular-production vehicles on sale in the U.S. market no later than the first quarter of 2006. To be eligible, the engine also must be available in a vehicle with a base price of no more than $52,500.

During a 2-month testing period, Ward's editors evaluate each engine according to a number of objective and subjective criteria in everyday driving situations — there is no instrumented testing. Each engine competes against all others.

Ward's believes this process recognizes engines used in a wide range of vehicle segments, while the head-to-head format generates just 10 clearcut winners free of the “categories” that could dilute such a competition.

Meanwhile, the price cap eliminates expensive, exotic engines that by their nature should be superior engineering efforts.

By limiting the competition to volume-market considerations, the annual 10 Best Engines awards have a high degree of relevance, we believe, to the majority of the industry's powertrain developers, as well as consumers.

AUDI AG

2L FSI Turbocharged DOHC I-4

Some complain Audi AG's new A3 is too expensive either for a hatchback or an entry-level luxury car.

Clearly, those critics are not powertrain aficionados, or else they would recognize an A3 starting at $24,740 is hideously cheap access to a technology-packed powder keg of an engine such as Audi's all-new 2L FSI DOHC I-4.

Like the 1.8L turbocharged 4-cyl. that came before it — itself a winner of multiple 10 Best Engines awards — the new mill combines the power density expected of a premium-class engine and the fuel economy that is virtually a requirement (at least in Europe) to compete in the luxury/sport end of the continent's dog-eat-dog B- and C-Class segments.

But Audi's new 2L I-4 improves greatly on the high standards set by the 1.8T it replaces.

While we miss the exotic 5-valve-per-cylinder configuration of the 1.8T, the 2L FSI makes up for its more-conventional 4-valve layout by sticking a fuel injector into the combustion-chamber, real estate that used to be occupied by Audi's signature fifth valve.

Direct injection gasoline (DIG) technology is the fastest-emerging power and economy enhancing innovation in the powertrain sector, and with the 2L FSI (Volkswagen AG's direct-injection acronym for Fuel Straight Injection), Audi and its VW parent are leading the pack.

Audi says FSI will be its gasoline-engine linchpin going into the future. Soon, every Audi-brand engine will feature the FSI system.

And for good reason: FSI adds new levels of power and torque, yet also delivers fuel-economy gains that, at the least, offset what typically would be lost in generating increased power.

For example, although the 2L FSI develops 30 hp and 40-plus lb.-ft. (41 Nm) more torque than the smaller 1.8T (as used by Audi), a continuously variable transmission-equipped A4 with the new engine gets 20% better fuel economy in city driving and does 10% better on the highway.

The numbers don't do justice to the effervescent nature of the new I-4. The throttle response is the last word in immediate, and this is one of those rare 4-cyls. that continually hits the fuel cutoff long before noise and vibration suggest a gearchange is in order. Twin balance shafts certainly help in that regard.

The 2L mill has a variable-length intake manifold and a superb BorgWarner Turbo Systems variable-turbine turbocharger that, when combined with FSI, all but eliminates turbo lag, the only lingering drawback of turbocharging.

As with Audi's excellent 3.2L FSI V-6, the only foible we've noted with FSI is brief idle and low-speed roughness when the engine is cold.

The 2L I-4 is claimed to be the world's first automotive engine to combine DIG technology and turbocharging.

If Audi's brilliant new 4-cyl. engine is typical of what happens when direct injection and turbocharging get together, we expect to see much of the auto industry follow in Audi's innovative footsteps.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 2L FSI Turbocharged DOHC I-4

Displacement (cc): 1,984

Block/head material: iron/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 82.5 × 92.8

Horsepower (SAE net): 200 @ 5,100-6,000 rpm

Torque: 207 lb.-ft. (280 Nm) @ 1,800-5,000 rpm

Specific output: 100 hp/L

Compression ratio: 10.3:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 25/31

Application tested: A3 2.0T

AUDI AG

4.2L DOHC V-8

It's no secret there are a lot of premium V-8s out there. BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Infiniti. Even safety-first Volvo Car Corp. has a V-8.

In fact, some say development has converged to the point where the world's premium V-8s — as a group, those generally of 5L displacement or less — are all but indistinguishable.

Not so with Audi AG's superb 4.2L DOHC V-8. The reasons Audi's V-8 returns for a third consecutive 10 Best Engines award are manifest, most having to do with the “character” said to be lacking from modern-day V-8s.

First, but probably not foremost, are the sounds. Ward's judges' appreciation continues unabated for the basso exhaust aria of the Audi V-8 as performed in the S4 sport sedan.

“Totally intoxicating,” says one editor. “When a V-8 is done right — and the Audi V-8 is terribly, terribly right — there's no better sound from any engine layout.”

From the moment one fires it up until the key is twisted to shut down, this engine engulfs vehicle occupants in a 3-ring circus of aural delight.

Next, and probably foremost, is what must be the Audi V-8's official motto: “Torque: There is no substitute.” We know almost every other premium V-8 fronts higher torque numbers. But a dozen years of 10 Best Engines competitions has taught us a few pound-feet one way or the other does not always tell the story.

Although competitors also have peaks at lower rpm, with Audi's V-8, prodigious torque always seems to be at the ready. If the engine's aluminum block were sufficiently porous, torque would ooze like sap from a maple.

Access to the power is enhanced in the S4 by the manual transmission few competitors offer, but it is also the engine's intrinsic light-flywheel sensation that augments the ever-flowing torque output.

And to us, nothing says “fine machinery” like a V-8 with a power peak of 7,000 rpm. Where many V-8s are ready to pack it in, the Audi 4.2L DOHC V-8 still is snarling, heading for the high-strung power peak that is so unusual and so addictive for a V-8 of any type.

Finally, there is the price. Many of the previously mentioned competitors are fine engines, but come only in vehicles priced out of the reach of buyers with normal means.

The Audi 4.2L mill is one of the few premium V-8s that can be had in a vehicle with a base price (barely) less than the $52,500 10 Best Engines price cap — demonstrating how exclusive this club can be.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 4.2L DOHC 90° V-8

Displacement (cc): 4,163

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 84.5 × 92.8

Horsepower (SAE net): 340 @ 7,000 rpm

Torque: 302 lb.-ft. (409 Nm) @ 3,500 rpm

Specific output: 81 hp/L

Compression ratio: 11:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 15/21

Application tested: S4 sedan

So Long Top Gun, Hello Luxury

Saab Cars is reviving its aviation heritage in its latest television commercials, with images of the 9-3 Aero speeding as a formation of fighter jets zooms overhead. So I grabbed a flight jacket and my aviator glasses and climbed into the cockpit.

First, the 9-3 Aero with its 2.8L turbocharged DOHC V-6 is more like an upscale Gulfstream G550 executive jet than one of the fighters depicted in the commercials. So long Top Gun and hello luxury.

However, if you want to do some high-performance flying, just let the 9-3's engine spool up past 3,000 rpm.

This all-aluminum V-6 is new to Saab this year and is the latest member of General Motors Corp.'s global V-6 family, which includes the 3.6L in the Cadillac CTS.

But the turbocharged variant is unique to Saab.

Frankly, this engine's composed and sophisticated performance surprised this year's judges as it politely edged its way onto the 10 Best Engines list — with little argument, I might add.

For every winner, there is a loser. Unfortunately, the arrival of the 2.8L sent packing another one of my favorite engines, GM's 4.2L Vortec DOHC I-6 (tested in the Saab 9-7X SUV). The Vortec made our list the previous four years.

Although a great engine, the Vortec this year was tragically lost in the shuffle, as other engines (including GM's own 2L supercharged DOHC I-4 in the peppy Cobalt SS) swayed the judges.

Some engines stake their claim with brute power, while others do so with inventive technology.

The beauty of the 9-3's turbocharged V-6 is its smooth power delivery — a vast improvement over Saab's earlier and temperamental 4-cyl. turbo mills.

There are few engines as refined and pleasant as this one. Cycling through the gears, the expected whiff of turbo lag is almost nonexistent, as the peak torque of 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) is available from 2,000 all the way to 4,800 rpm. Very impressive.

Meanwhile, the engine serenely delivers torque as it revs to an assertive 250-hp threshold, aided by the turbocharger's unique twin-scroll architecture with separate tracts that funnel the exhaust pulses emanating from each cylinder bank.

The exhaust pulses for each cylinder bank divide the job of spinning the turbine, reducing lag while increasing boost.

Another feature cool enough to be implemented across other GM brands are the jets that squirt oil onto the pistons to keep them from running too hot.

If only GM could wedge this engine into the Solstice…
Cliff Banks

BMW AG

3L DOHC I-6

In 12 years of creating the Ward's 10 Best Engines list, probably nothing caused more consternation among judges than shutting the door on BMW AG's classic high-volume inline 6-cyl. for the past two years.

This was deeply troubling, as there is perhaps no finer volume-production engine, all things considered, than BMW's standard inline 6-cyl.

Yet, not to be ignored was the onrush of high-powered V-6s (mostly from Japan) and a raft of new power- and efficiency-enhancing technology, including direct injection gasoline (DIG) fueling, cylinder deactivation and gas-electric hybridization.

Consider it but a brief interlude in BMW's onward march to perfect its brand-defining inline 6-cyl. layout: The new, 12th-generation (N52) '06 3L DOHC I-6 is an unqualified gem.

First, the numbers: 255 hp at 6,600 rpm and 220 lb.-ft. (280 Nm) of torque at 2,750 rpm. The figures represent a jump of 30 hp and a slight torque increase of 6 lb.-ft. (8 Nm) over the previous-generation M54 3L inline mill.

More telling, in relation to those previously mentioned V-6s, the new BMW I-6's specific output of 85 hp per liter now places it in the top tier of 6-cyl. power density. Most of the power gain comes thanks to the fitment of BMW's outstanding Valvetronic variable valve-lift system.

Valvetronic increases the range of variable valve lift such that the engine no longer needs a conventional throttle.

Apart from the clearcut power gains, BMW engineers say Valvetronic cuts emissions and markedly improves efficiency — as much as 12%. However, in some driving modes, Ward's testers noted greater gains — as much as 34 mpg (6.9 L/100 km) in steady-state highway cruising.

In terms of driveability, Valvetronic extended the available engine speed range. Redline now is a heady 7,000 rpm, a satisfying expansion from the repressed 6,500-rpm limit of the M54, and Valvetronic also pulled the torque peak down from 3,500 rpm to an ultra-flexible 2,750 rpm.

But the headline-making technical leap for this new 3L I-6 is the move to an aluminum-magnesium hybrid engine block.

BMW says the bedplate and upper crankcase are magnesium alloy. Magnesium for the bedplate is a trick borrowed from racing, and the magnesium upper crankcase forms a jacket around the structural aluminum block. The previous 3L inline 6-cyl. had cast iron cylinder liners.

It probably does little as far as your right foot is concerned, but this new magnesium-intensive structure makes this fabulously performing 3L DOHC I-6 22 lbs. (10 kg) lighter, not to mention stronger.

And space doesn't permit a list of the other worthy improvements to engine internals, or the trick new electrically driven water pump. It all adds up to a spectacular update of an outstanding layout. The new Valvetronic system intensifies the already thrilling throttle response and acceleration rip for which BMW inline 6-cyls. long have been glorified.

The additional revs are welcome, too, as we always believed BMW's ultra-smooth sixes were good for way more rpm that we were getting. Best of all, these improvements come with a general increase in fuel economy. And of course, that spectacular inline 6-cyl. smoothness and lack of vibration is even more enjoyable.

It's simple: BMW's latest inline 6-cyl. uncategorically is its best yet.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 3L DOHC I-6

Displacement (cc): 2,996

Block/head material: magnesium-aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 85 × 88

Horsepower (SAE net): 255 @ 6,600 rpm

Torque: 220 lb.-ft. (298 Nm) @ 2,750 rpm

Specific output: 85 hp/L

Compression ratio: 10.7:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 20/30

Application tested: 330i

DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG

5.7L Hemi Magnum OHV V-8

Nobody could have predicted an engine name plucked from a dusty muscle-car past would have connected so completely with contemporary buyers.

Sure, the demographic of many customers buying Chrylser Group vehicles that offer the 5.7L Hemi V-8 is one that fondly remembers muscle cars and the simple-but-strong Hemi name.

But the Hemi's ongoing appeal — which still surprises some industry analysts — runs much deeper than a fortuitous marketing re-connect with baby-boomers. The Hemi is about real power and real engineering.

There is skepticism that the modern-day 5.7L Hemi V-8, returning for its fourth consecutive 10 Best Engines win, really has hemispherically shaped combustion chambers that led to the original Hemi's name.

But in a sense, it's not that important. Chrysler powertrain engineers studied the gas-flow characteristics of some of the world's best-engineered and best-performing engines (including Porsche AG's power-dense horizontally opposed 6-cyl.) and came up with a design that shares many of the attributes of a hemispherical combustion chamber.

The rest is history. The Hemi's simple architecture, combined with smart design details, makes a powerhouse package that wipes the floor with the competition.

If buyers actually need a test drive, dealers tell us most are ready to sign on the dotted line after their first taste of the Hemi V-8's mighty torque.

Ward's 10 Best Engines judges also continue to reward the 5.7L Hemi V-8 because it just plain works.

Throttle response is immediate but not artificially sharp, the Hemi revs as well as many overhead-cam V-8s (the Hemi's 5,200-rpm horsepower peak in the Charger is not the signature of a lugging, low-tech V-8), and the exhaust and intake sounds are impeccably tuned. The Hemi speaks the language of power — but also backs it up.

Need more evidence? After four years in the market, the Hemi's installation rates remain the stuff of a bean-counter's dreams. In every application, it's an option or part of an options package that typically gets a buyer spending thousands extra.

Consider recent installation rates, not to mention that in most vehicles, apart from the extra cost, the Hemi is one of three available engines: Charger, 65%; Durango, 50%; Ram 1500, 49%; Magnum, 45%.

This, after the past year's gasoline price shock that brought the market for consumptive domestic vehicles to a standstill.

Perhaps the Hemi's success is partly due to Chrysler's inclusion in the Hemi's initial design the fuel-saving Multi Displacement System for cylinder deactivation.

Chrysler says MDS allows Hemi-equipped vehicles to cut consumption by as much as 20%. The timing could not have been better to help keep the thundering 5.7L Hemi at the top of the heap.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 5.7L OHV 90° V-8

Displacement (cc): 5,654

Block/head material: iron/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 99.5 × 90.9

Horsepower (SAE net): 350 @ 5,200 rpm

Torque: 390 lb.-ft. (529 Nm) @ 4,000 rpm

Specific output: 61 hp/L

Compression ratio: 9.6:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 17/25

Application tested: Dodge Charger R/T

Unplugging the Hybrid Hype

Harsh reality is settling in. After winning 10 Best Engines awards in 2004 and 2005, no hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) powertrain made our list this year. Chalk it up to rising expectations and a declining gee-whiz factor.

In other words, our honeymoon with hybrids is over.

Environmentalists say HEVs are the magic bullet that will save the auto industry as well as the atmosphere. Auto makers are charging hefty premiums for the technology. In that light, the HEVs we tested this year are as good as ever, but not living up to their own hype.

We have been duly impressed in the past, naming Toyota Motor Corp. HEVs to the 10 Best Engines list twice and Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s system once.

In 2001, we were thrilled with the way Toyota brought HEV technology to the practical Prius sedan in a relatively transparent fashion. In 2004, we were awed by how much Toyota improved the system.

Last year, judges were wowed by the way Honda's sophisticated Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid system dispelled the myth that HEVs have to be slow and boring.

This year, we could not ignore a few shortcomings.

First among our complaints, pointed out by a growing number of journalists and disgruntled owners, is real-world fuel economy far less than what is advertised.

Second, fuel economy is affected too much by driving style and ambient temperature.

The Lexus RX 400h is the epitome of luxury and environmental friendliness when we moved silently through stop-and-go traffic on full electric power. But once the vehicle's internal combustion engine gets involved with propulsion, we were less impressed. During hard acceleration it doesn't have the premium sound we expect from a vehicle with a base price approaching $50,000. Plus, we were underwhelmed with our 25 mpg (9L/100 km) average.

NASA astronaut Ken Mattingly spent tedious hours in a flight simulator figuring out a start-up sequence that used only 20 amps for an energy-starved Apollo 13. That made for compelling drama in a movie.

Employing the same power-saving tactics just to squeeze out something close to the EPA mileage from a Civic Hybrid on a cold day is a bit less engaging.

Want something close to its alleged 49/51 mpg (5L/100 km/4.6L/100 km) on a frosty morning? Forget about warming up the engine or using the defroster. Scrape the windows by hand, stay off the throttle and the expressway and get ready to shiver.

Enduring that kind of inconvenience is fine if you need to get back from space with your fuel cells spent, but not when you're just heading to work.
Drew Winter

FORD MOTOR CO.

4.6L SOHC V-8

Most of the conversations about Ford Motor Co.'s 4.6L SOHC V-8 during Ward's 10 Best Engines testing went something like this:

“You drive the Mustang yet?”

“Yeah. The four-six is nasty. Goes like stink in that car.”

“Sounds awesome, too. Perfect muscle-car sounds. Perfect muscle-car V-8.”

Associating Ford's spectacular 4.6L V-8 so closely with the Mustang is both boon and curse. It is an advantage because the Mustang partially owes its runaway success to its excellent, new-generation V-8.

Without it, enthusiasts would not have bought the 'Stang as the real deal, regardless of the car's brilliant sheet metal.

But the 4.6L SOHC V-8's close affiliation with the Mustang discounts this outstanding modular V-8's keen work in its other high-volume home, the Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer SUVs.

In the SUVs, the same new 3-valve-per-cylinder configuration that last year yielded such great new power gains is slightly modified, and the 4.6L V-8 gets an iron block, apparently to underscore its light-truck duty. For the Mustang, however, aluminum is the material of choice for the block.

In other vehicles, Ford continues to deploy 2-valve variants of the 4.6L. So Ford currently offers in the market a 3-valve all-aluminum mill (our tested winner), a 3-valve version with an iron block and a 2-valve iron-block variant.

The Mustang, of course, is this engine's halo application, and it is the model best-suited to show off this power-dense V-8's finest attributes.

The lightened flywheel encourages exploring the upper tach range, and the 4,500-rpm torque peak underscores the modular 4.6L SOHC V-8's newfound ability to rev to places the old 4.9L pushrod V-8 never visited.

The characteristic that enthralled Ward's judges again was this V-8's broad power band. There is stump-pulling torque at low- and mid-range speeds, yet the 4.6L V-8 seems to keep churning out power for at least 1,000 rpm longer than is expected.

The mark of 60 hp per liter is the top tier of “mainstream” V-8s — almost matching Chrysler Group's vaunted 5.7L Hemi in power density.

And thanks to some attentive engineering detail, Ford's smooth and torque-laden 4.6L V-8 isn't the gas-guzzler one might expect.

The 17 mpg (13.8 L/100 km) city rating and 25 mpg (9.4 L/100 km) highway economy are easily attainable, if one can resist the constant temptation to pin the throttle for an easy grin and a jolt of the Mustang's magnificent and near-perfect exhaust notes.

Plus, this engine is perfectly happy to run on regular unleaded gasoline.

For the second consecutive year, no auto maker provides a more power-packed V-8 at a more accessible price than Ford's brilliant 4.6L SOHC V-8.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 4.6L SOHC 90° V-8

Displacement (cc): 4,604

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 90.2 × 90

Horsepower (SAE net): 300 @ 5,750 rpm

Torque: 320 lb.-ft. (434 Nm) @ 4,500 rpm

Specific output: 65 hp/L

Compression ratio: 9.8:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 17/25

Application tested: Mustang GT

GENERAL MOTORS CORP.

2L Supercharged DOHC I-4

By winning a 10 Best Engines award in the first year of production for the 2L supercharged DOHC I-4, General Motors Corp. and its Powertrain Div. prove they are capable of playing serious ball in the performance market.

We can think of few options for a sophisticated, forced-induction DOHC 4-cyl. that fronts 100 hp per liter and can be had in a vehicle that starts at less than $22,000.

GM Powertrain engineers de-stroked the standard 2.2L Ecotec to make the 2L displacement of the new supercharged variant.

The 40% horsepower pop over the standard 2.2L mill comes largely from the ministrations of an Eaton Corp. M62 roots-type supercharger sending the intake charge through a unique air-to-water intercooler that is cleverly integrated into the intake manifold to improve efficiency and reduce noise. There's a maximum of 12 psi (0.8 bar) of boost pressure.

Crack open the throttle of the 2L supercharged Ecotec 4-cyl. and the firecracker-in-a-mailbox fun runs from idle through to the 5,600-rpm power peak.

The punch practically rushes out of this engine in its eagerness to please, aided by the hefty 200 lb.-ft. of torque that also belies this engine's size.

Ward's testers particularly relished the supercharged Ecotec's immediate and crisp throttle and the measured fashion in which this engine seamlessly deals out torque like a deep sea fisherman giving a marlin the line it needs.

But in the hard world of aluminum and steel, the Ecotec foundation architecture is one of GM's best: Every Ecotec engine is all-aluminum and has dual camshafts, roller-finger cam followers, twin balance shafts and direct-mounted accessory drives.

The supercharged variant offers meaningful upgrades such as a forged-steel crankshaft, jets to direct cooling oil to the undersides of the piston crowns and sodium-filled exhaust-valve stems.

There are many engines vying for a piece of the burgeoning compact-performance market, where buyers are notoriously fussy — and knowledgeable. Come with something bogus, and they'll sniff it out in a second.

The 2L Ecotec supercharged DOHC I-4 is a bona fide gem. It is the best compact-performance engine at its price and can stand against many engines in much pricier vehicles.

Apart from the sheer exuberance, Ward's judges embrace the 2L Ecotec for its excitement-per-dollar formula.

ENGINE SPECS

Engine type: 2L Supercharged DOHC I-4

Displacement (cc): 1,998

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore × stroke (mm): 86 × 86

Horsepower (SAE net): 205 @ 5,600 rpm

Torque: 200 lb.-ft. (271 Nm) @ 4,400 rpm

Specific output: 103 hp/L

Compression ratio: 9.5:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 23/29

Application tested: Chevrolet Cobalt SS

The Month Before Christmas

'Twas the month before Christmas, when all around Ward's,
Were Audis and Chevys and Hondas and Fords.
Spec sheets were hung in the hallway with care,
In hopes the judges would find Best Engines there.
The judges were bundled all snug in their coats,
As they sat at the wheel and pondered their votes.
Visnic in his office, and I at my desk,
Had been hustling the cars for us all to test.
When out in the parking deck there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
It was Banks in the Saab, and I saw in a flash,
He was ripping up pavement, his foot fully mashed.
McClellan was not deterred by the new-fallen snow,
Knowing the Hemi would take her where she needed to go.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a guy in a beard pumping 8 cylinders of fear.
It was Editor Winter, his driving lively and quick,
I knew in a moment his Mustang was slick.
To the Lodge Freeway, the pony car flew,
With the Southfield police eyeing him, too.
“Enough!” I said. “We must get to work.
These cars must be driven, to specs be alert.”
My brow it was furrowed, for as I turned 'round,
Out of the elevator came Visnic with a bound.
His driving gloves were leather, and his right foot was heavy.
And his driving record battered like a New Orleans levee.
A bundle of citations was stuffed in his pocket.
He smiled, nonetheless, and called the Audi S4 a rocket.
Its gauges, how they twinkled, its throttle, how merry.
He stepped on the gas, and the scene became scary.
He crashed through the deck, with the cops in tow,
While the rest of the judges said, “Now we must go.”
McClellan jumped in the 3-Series and smiled a grinchy grin,
While Winter pummeled the A3 and said, “This one should win.”
Banks grabbed the Infiniti and laughed from his belly.
“I love it!” he screamed, on his way to the deli.
And me in the Lexus, a right jolly old elf,
I couldn't help but like it, in spite of myself.
A wink of Winter's eye and a twist of the key,
Sent the Cobalt SS dashing with wintry glee.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
Filling the gas tanks with his credit card perks.
McClellan stepped up and said, “There's one we forgot.
The Mazdaspeed6 has what many others do not:
4-cylinder power, direct injection and a turbo to whistle.”
And away she flew like a tomahawk missile.
Visnic returned, in the steaming S4 he came,
Conferred with the judges, and called the winners by name:
“Now Lexus, now Nissan, now Audi and Hemi,
On Mazda, on Mustang, on Beemer, on Chevy!
To the front of the stage you all must go,
To pick up the Lucite for your