All-Star: 2008 Volvo C30
The C30 had us from the first view of its cute little 1800ES-esque butt at the 2006 Detroit show, where it launched as the C30 Design Concept. Since then, we've been waiting patiently for the hipster Volvo four-seat hatchback to wind its way through the long productionization process, to introduce itself to everyone in Europe (where it was greeted with much fanfare, as in 32,000 sales as of November 2007), to roll onto a transatlantic steamer, and to finally make its way into our eager hands.
Such is the impact of striking design. You see it, you just want it. Never mind that the C30 has the underpinnings, the 227-hp turbocharged five-cylinder engine, and virtually the entire interior of the S40. We like the S40, too. But this is just the cutest thing, with its nipped-in rear cabin and frameless pane of hatch glass. Sweet.
Never mind that it's only a couple hundred pounds lighter than the base S40 (despite being 8.8 inches shorter) and therefore a bit pokier than we expected. And the Volvo doesn't feel as sporting as the Volkswagen GTI, although (according to Volvo and VW) the C30 is both faster and quicker. The Volvo is whisper-quiet, perfectly composed, and has a six-speed manual that you could teach your grandma to row flawlessly in fifteen minutes. You can add a little flip of roof spoiler and larger tailpipes; lower it; go with stiffer springs, dampers, and antiroll bars; jack it onto eighteen-inch rims; rock out the 650-watt, ten-speaker Dynaudio system; add a cool two-tone option dialed up from a palette of seventeen different exterior colors; and still party on out the door for less than $30,000.
It is madly, Scandinavianly mod inside to go with its fresh exterior. And any one of us would have it - the one perfect criterion for All-Stardom.