Top five sports cars from Detroit

The hottest high-horsepower machines from the 2008 North American International Auto Show.

There was no shortage of sexy, sporty cars at this year's North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Here are my favorites (in somewhat of a particular order):

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5. Mazda Furai concept

The race-bred concept, which means "wind" in Japanese, is based on the Courage C65 chassis, which Mazda used in the American Le Mans Series two seasons previously. It has a three-rotor rotary engine that's capable of churning out 450 horsepower. And while it looks awesome, I'd say the chance that it goes into production is pretty slim.


General Motors
4. 2009 Cadillac CTS-V

The uber-performance version of Cadillac's sportiest model is slated to hit dealerships at the end of this year. Its 6.2 liter supercharged LSA engine delivers an estimated 550 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. It also features Magnetic Ride Control, an "industry-first Performance Traction Management program" (although I'm not quite sure what that means), as well as a new automatic transmission with paddle-shift control (some of us recognized the extra space for the paddles on the steering column when we drove the 2008 CTS earlier this year).


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3. Audi R8 V12 TDI concept

Audi's sleek supercar gets an update with a 12-cylinder diesel engine -- a first for a high-performance road car. The V12 TDI (which stands for turbo diesel injection), generates 500 horsepower and an impressive 738 pound-feet of torque. The V12 TDI is closely related to the engine in the Audi R10, the two-time Le Mans winner. I love how the car looks, but I'm still befuddled by that giant strip of carbon fiber down the side.


Fisker Automotive

2. Fisker Karma

I'm hoping for good karma for Henrik Fisker, best known for his designs of the Aston Martin DB9, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and BMW Z8. The Great Dane is launching his first car built from the ground up, powered by plug-in hybrid technology. The drivetrain, developed by Quantum Technologies, consists of a small gasoline engine that turns a generator to charge a lithium-ion battery pack. The batteries power the electric motor and turn the rear wheels. With a zero-to-60 time of less than 6 seconds and a top speed of more than 125 miles per hour, the Karma is definitely poised to be a Tesla-killer.


General Motors
1. 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

My number one car (though a tough call) evokes images of Tim Allen doing his manly grunt on Home Improvement. The 2009 Corvette ZR1 is the most powerful and fastest production car ever made by parent company General Motors. It features a new, supercharged 6.2-liter LS9 V-8 engine that cranks out a jaw-dropping 620 horsepower and about 595 pound-feet of torque. GM says the ZR1 will be the first production Corvette to achieve a top speed of at least 200 miles per hour. But those speed junkies and midlife crisis victims still need to hang on a big longer -- the ZR1 won't arrive until this summer.

About the author

    Laura Burstein is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. She covers car news and events for a variety of companies including CNET, General Motors, and Mercedes-Benz. Laura is a member of the Motor Press Guild and the BMW Car Club of America, and spends much of her spare time at high-performance driving schools, car control clinics, and motorsports events. She's also an avid Formula 1 fan. When she's not at the track, Laura's rubbing elbows with car cognoscenti at auto shows, auctions, design events, and various social gatherings. Disclosure.

     

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