20 for 20 Best Cars Countdown: Part 4
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As we pass the half-way point of 2020, there’s no better time to look back, and forward, as we count down - each day this week - the list of cars that DRIVEN considers the 20 most iconic, important and/or relevant car brands and models over the past 20 years.
Some are brand specific, some are model specific, but all play a part in the way cars have shaped us over the past two decades, as we look a little back… and a little forward, as we count down what we think are the 20 biggest cars of the past 20 years.
But it’s not just our option, either: cast your vote in the comments and tell us what you think we should include. No AU Falcons please, it’s clearly ‘above’ lists like this…
8. Toyota Prius
Groan. Yes, we hear it, but without the game-changing Prius, we probably wouldn’t have the saturation of fuel-saving hybrid technology as we know it today. Launched in Japan in 1997 and globally in 2000, we’ve had 20 years to know, love (and hate) the Prius, for the hero that it is, pioneering hybrid technology amid the knockers of its styling, ‘performance’ or at least perception of being green. The Hollywood A-lister’s car of the 00s, the Prius continues today, and tomorrow… it’s even had a racecar version built for the Japanese GT300 class. Prius, we salute you… as does almost every Uber driver.
7. Ford Ranger
While Hilux has been the mainstay and ute icon for NZ, it’s hard to ignore the Ranger, particularly over past years. Its wide range of 2WD, 4WD, cab chassis, double-cab, wellside and special editions like the Raptor, plus its grunty 3.2 five-cylinder or twin-turbo 2.0 have all helped offer a Ranger for just about any budget or application. Combining an almost ideal combination of ride, safety, technology, comfort, practicality and fit-for-purpose, it’s been number one in NZ for the past five years and doesn’t look likely to relent that position any time in the near future.
6. Mazda MX-5
The archetypal sports car, the MX-5 revived in the late 80s, and while sports cars are notorious for short bursts of success (remember the Capri convertible…?), the MX-5 has just evolved… and at the same time hasn’t. Still running the ‘purity’ of a 2.0 aspirated four-cylinder in a rear-drive chassis focused on light weight, the choice of bodystyle/roof options maintains the MX-5 as a sports car icon of the 2000s, and beyond.
5: VW Golf/GTI
The 'Beetle of the modern-era', who hasn’t owned a Golf, or at least known someone who did. Andrew, put your hand down, we know... Born in 1974 (the Golf, not Gen Z/Zoomer Andrew), while the Golf ticked along, the GTI grabbed the headlines and mag covers, but it wasn’t until 2006 when the MkV arrived with the dual-clutch gearbox that was faster than a manual that highlighted a new era of appreciation (following the gearbox’s debut in the MkIV VR6). With Golf R and e-Golf iterations, it did - and still does - a great job as the modern people’s car, before its likely replacement by the new generation of EV Volkswagen in the coming years. And so close to 50, too.
See our final countdown, 4th through to 1st, tomorrow, to round out the week.
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