2009 has not only been a bad year for car makers but also a bad year for revered models sold by manufacturers as far afield as Bentley and Subaru. Most of these car lines were discontinued because of slow sales, efficiency concerns or the fact that the entire car company was set to disappear from the face of the Earth. These are sad times, indeed, for anyone who loves an overabundance of choice in the car market.
But that is not to say that you can’t still find a new 2009 model on a dealer lot or even invest in a solid, low mileage used version. You can even use the fact that these models are being discontinued as a bargaining tool with the dealership. So here are ten of the best 2009 cars that didn’t live long enough to see a 2010 model year.
Bentley Arnage: This exquisite luxury sedan costs more than most people’s homes but it is the last 100% hand built car from a relatively mainstream car manufacturer. Huge and imposing but never crossing the border into ostentatious, the Arnage is the high roller sedan the Rolls Royce Phantom longs to be. There will never be a car like the Arnage due to environmental regulations (the engine isn’t exactly low on emissions) and the fact that manufacturing just doesn’t happen like this anymore. And that is truly a shame.
Audi S8: This flagship Audi sedan shared the same V-10 engine as the Lamborghini Gallardo and as such made for a sedan of truly distinct characters. Like any Audi it could transport you eloquently to your destination with decorum or if the time was right the engine could howl like a banshee. The next generation S8 will feature the much more tranquil 12 cylinder engine from the Bentley Continental.
Honda S2000: Barring the somewhat lame digital speedometer it is amazing how fresh the styling of this two seat Honda roadster stayed even after 10 years on the market. This convertible has one of the most manic engines in the industry with redline not until nearly 8,000 RPMs. This roadster is manual transmission only as well so no poseurs need apply. There are also plenty of used ones on the market so this could make a phenomenal weekend car.
Saturn Aura: Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that this was the North American Car of the Year? I guess that proves how much awards mean to buyers. This sedan is a highly worthy entrant into the midsize family sedan market, however. It doesn’t exceed expectations in any one area but if you are looking for a new car bargain this is it.
Saab 9-3 SportCombi: This appears like it may be the final, most wantonly wacky Saab that the Earth shall ever know. Styled to appear like a 9-3 sedan wearing a backpack this was always a great choice for those looking to avoid being just another SUV driver. As always, Saab offered only turbocharged motors in the SportCombi so they were always very fun to drive. My favorite part? That Saab kept putting the ignition in between the two front seats. It takes guts to stick with a format like that.
Pontiac Vibe: This is the one time in the history of world when anyone would say that Toyota should have copied Pontiac. The Vibe is a clone of the Toyota Matrix and for some reason the Pontiac is a far better looking car. With Pontiac gone, can you please copy their exterior styling Toyota? Since that may never happen the Vibe is your best choice if you are interested in a fuel efficient, inexpensive small wagon.
Suzuki XL-7: Okay, this wasn’t the best seven-seat SUV on the market but it has a long warranty and as with most Suzuki models it seems solidly built. With the XL-7 gone Suzuki now desperately needs something for their customers that may need more space than a Grand Vitara offers.
Saturn Astra: Here’s another example of GM’s marketing department taking a good car and doing nothing to try to sell it. This rebadged Opel came with the rather tepid four cylinder from the Cobalt as well as a class trailing four speed automatic. If GM had offered this car with a wider array of engines from diesels to turbocharged variants (as Opel does in Europe) this might have been the small American car to frighten Corolla and Civic.
Pontiac G8: This handsome large sedan was shipped from GM’s Australian division Holden and sold here with a number of engines, including the 8 cylinder from the Corvette. With that engine the G8 was the fun rear drive American car the buying public has hoped would come for years. Unfortunately by this time the Pontiac name plate was so dead to most people that no one gave it a chance.
Subaru Outback with Turbocharged Four Cylinder: This version of the fantastic Outback wagon was dropped for the 2010 model year because few people ordered them in the past. That is truly a shame as Subaru makes some of the best turbocharged four cylinders in the business. Granted, I don’t think a manual transmission Outback turbo makes sense but with the new CVT? That is a car that people would buy.