Mercedes-Benz CL 550
Mack Points: She'll think you're an investment banker, lawyer, rap star or trust fund baby
Not Diggin' It: Only bankers, lawyers, rap stars and trust fund babies can afford one
Mercedes-Benz has a subtle way of presenting the most luxurious vehicle without making it seem unabashedly masculine. The classic yet modern curves of metal, glass and chrome on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL 550 say: "I'm a gentleman with power who loves style, confidence and grace."
And what's wrong with that? Women swoon over much less. And, with the $100,000+ price tag, the ladies will definitely be swarming around this hive of vehicular comfort and luxury.
On this trip (without the kids!), my husband and I were headed down near empty US 10 to Palm Springs and the sprawling JW Marriott Desert Hot Springs for a lavish chef's table dinner with the resort's award-winning Executive Chef Greg Wiener.
We powered down the freeway in this sporty luxe sedan with its "new generation" 5.5 liter V8 engine, hitting 100 mph several times with lightning speed and with absolutely perfect handling. The ride is all German, meaning the CL 550 lets you assume control whenever you need her to be there for you -- either in traffic, on straightaways or around dating's many dangerous curves.
The interior of the CL 550 is best described as understated grandeur. The saddle-stitched, two-toned, black-and-terra cotta leather seats are only outdone by the stitched leather dash and wraparound twin cockpits. The central console, with its glossy burl wood and play of matte and glossy chromes, is guaranteed to give any true lady a design thrill.
She'll think she's died and gone to luxury car heaven when you suggest she stash her lipstick or cell phone in the almost invisible nook built into each door panel, which opens up to reveal a space lined with sumptuous black velvet.
For the driver, the huge thrill (other than the 382 hp under the hood) is the COMAND system. With your right arm perfectly comfortable on a terribly handsome leather arm rest, your hand cups a silver control mouse. Using your fingers to fiddle with the mouse, the driver has complete control over the CL 550's state-of-the-art entertainment and navigation system. Look honey, no hands!
Yes, just imagine your date blissfully exhaling after a long dinner with lots of wine. She reclines in these ultra comfortable 14-way adjustable seats. You push a button to open the power sunroof, adjust the dual temperature controls to her liking and play with the COMAND mouse to find the perfect music on the CL 550's 11-speaker, 600 Watt Harman Kardon digital surround sound system.
And, because the CL 550 is as much a sporty roadster as a grand touring sedan, you can impress her friends and family by giving them a ride in the two plush back seats with leather and burl wood mid-seat console. Now that's impressive!
Audi TT Roadster
Mack Points: Turns heads with is shapely bubble-like exterior and super silent convertible top
Not Diggin' It: Putt-putt engine not suited for those who desire a real race car-like drive
The Audi TT has multiple personalities, attracting both women drivers as well as would-be female passengers. On the outside, the Audi's two-seat sports roadster TT looks truly sexy with its bubble-like hood, curvy haunches and wide back side. Yes, the Audi TT goes both ways as a great date car for both men and women.
Dual duty seems to be more and more important in modern life and sometimes you have to mix business with pleasure. So, it was a great fun to hop in the Audi TT Roadster with my friend for a road test down panoramic Pacific Coast Highway to exclusive Newport Coast (home of Laker star Kobe Bryant) for a chef's dinner at my favorite Orange County restaurant, Sage on the Coast.
A female friend, who owns a Mitsubishi Eclipse and who I feel has good taste in cars, loved the TT from the outset. She marveled at the interior's balanced yin-yang interplay of black leather and shiny chrome, "I'd buy this," she said, as we raced down Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach toward Crystal Cove Promenade, perhaps the most upscale strip mall on the planet.
However, as much as we both fell in love with the interior, I was perplexed by the TT Roadster's 3.2 liter V6 engine. You'd think this car would drive more like a race car with a powerful growling engine. Not so. The "putt-putt" engine, as I dubbed it, was generous enough with power and had great handling, but I just couldn't get over this roadster's more genteel ride.
But after driving the Audi TT Roadster around all week, I finally became accustomed to its unique "putt-putt" drive. I decided this may be the perfect two-seat roadster for women buyers, and guys, it can certainly impress the ladies at the same time with its smooth, easy drive and modern edge.
Mack Points: Chicks dig anything made by Porsche, interior looks like something from a James Bond flick, romantic coupe styling.
Not Diggin' It: Very cramped interior (although this might be a good thing on a first date)
It's good to take a Porsche to the best meal of your life, right? As a married woman with preschool and teen-aged daughters, sometimes my date is my own mother. It's sad, but true. Thankfully, we were driving a Porsche Cayman about 80 miles south from Newport Beach to San Diego's newest dining sensation, Addison (www.addisondelmar.com).
We did at least 100 mph up and down Newport Coast's hills on Hwy 73 in this mid-engine, six-cylinder, 2.7 liter, 245 hp engine with lightweight body technology. I have fallen in love with driving any Porsche as this marquee truly knows how to thrill a driver, especially when you become one with the Cayman's not-too-soft and not-too-tight manual transmission while cruising down the 5 Freeway to San Diego with spectacular Pacific Ocean views.
Just looking at the Cayman's curvy haunches, sexy sloping hood and racing rear spoiler would make any woman want to go for a ride. Although the interior is cramped (which, again, may be a good thing on a date) and there's little storage space, the throaty growl and rapid acceleration of this sexy beast make your heart thump every time you race at Autobahn-like speeds down highways and freeways.
Worried about your budget? The Cayman gets a whopping 31 mpg highway and 23 mpg city. Yes, this two-seater beauty truly gets good gas mileage as well as bringing you (and her) the joy of Porsche's pure sports car heritage.
And, the Cayman is actually Porsche's least expensive coupe, starting at just $49,400 or so for a racy ride and standard all-leather black interior. When you really think about it, that's not too much to pay for speedy sex on wheels.