Automobile names Audi R8 top car for '08; GM wins for hybrid tech

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It's that time of year where everyone's prognosticating like Nostradamus about what the coming year will hold. The authoritative ink slingers at Automobile magazine have decided that Audi's R8 deserves the dual honors of 2008 Automobile Of The Year and Design Of The Year, as well. While infused with the generous spirit, Automobile named General Motor's Two-Mode Hybrid rig Technology Of The Year.

The R8 is Audi's sports/GT that looks like a supercar and radiates a glow across the entire Audi model line. Not only does it have neck-snapping visual presence, with a 420 horsepower V8 between the axles, there's a deep well of accelerative force to go along with a finely-tuned AWD chassis that doesn't scramble the occupants. Park the R8 next to some rosso italiano, and the lithe German with its metal side blades, straked vents front and rear, and muscular stance might just steal all the thunder.

Big trucks that return 20mpg in the city have been about as realistic as Tinkerbell, until now. General Motors partnered with BMW and the artist formerly known as DaimlerChrysler to develop a flexible hybrid architecture for a wide variety of applications. The second-generation system, with lots more transmission trickery added to the bag of fuel-saving techniques, is allowing the GMT900 platform to post city EPA mileage numbers not far behind four-cylinder midsizers. Because of the system's joint development, we should start seeing this hardware popping up in a variety of different vehicles soon. We're sure that not everyone will agree with Automobile's picks, so fire away with your own suggestions.

Press release after the jump.



--Audi R8 also captures Design of the Year; GM's Two-Mode Hybrid System named Technology of the Year--
(ANN ARBOR, Mich.-December 26, 2007) - AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE, America's leading automotive lifestyle publication ( and part of SOURCE INTERLINK MEDIA, today announced that the Audi R8 is its 2008 Automobile of the Year. The magazine also named the R8 Design of the Year and GM's Two-Mode Hybrid System Technology of the Year.

The winners are featured in the pages of the February 2008 issue of AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE, available on newsstands beginning January 2, 2008.

2008 Automobile of the Year: Audi R8

Audi's first foray into the sports car arena impressed the editors with its depth of abilities, which include straight-line speed, deep reserves of power, generous suspension travel, laser-like directional stability, and the surefootedness of all-wheel drive. The R8's glass-encased, 420-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 engine has the sound of a traditional Italian supercar. Editors called it a great real-world sports car in the vein of the Porsche 911, but with the exotic presence of a Ferrari.

"The R8 absolutely captivated the automotive world this past year," said Jean Jennings, President and Editor-in-Chief of AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE. "It propels Audi into a whole new league of driving dynamics, and it emphatically caps Audi's steep ascent from the somnambulant lull in which it languished in the early 1990s. The R8 is a thrilling new sports car from a company that's stronger than it's ever been."

Design of the Year: Audi R8

The arresting R8 features a bright metal blade on its side, an unmistakable and dramatic design feature shared with no other car. For Design of the Year, AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE looks for innovation, style, beauty, engineering, dynamics, heritage and public approbation, and editors noted that the R8's design is outstanding in almost every way.

"We honor the designers and the engineers who have so perfectly realized a truly civilized grand touring coupe," said Design Editor Robert Cumberford. "It is far more comfortable than cars of equal performance, and it features a highly focused environment for the driver but a relaxed and more open space for the passenger."

Technology of the Year: GM's Two-Mode Hybrid System

AUTOMOBILE MAGAZINE editors also called General Motors' Two-Mode Hybrid System the most significant gasoline-electric propulsion advancement since the original Toyota Prius. With oil approaching $100 per barrel, big trucks that don't guzzle gas on an ordinary commute could be a God-send.

"Two-Mode blends the best attributes of internal combustion and battery-powered electric motors," said Technical Editor Don Sherman. "Chevrolet Tahoes and GMC Yukons equipped with the technology can achieve 20 miles per gallon or more, which is equivalent to the capability of a four-cylinder mid-size sedan in city driving."

Sherman noted that because Two-Mode is a second-generation approach conceived by transmission experts instead of engine specialists, gasoline and electric power sources are more ingeniously combined with fixed and variable gear ratios to achieve higher efficiency over a broader range.

Since GM partnered with BMW and the former DaimlerChrysler to develop Two-Mode for front-, rear-, and four-wheel-drive applications with gasoline and diesel engines, consumers should begin to see it in more cars, pickups, SUVs, and crossover vehicles.

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