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Great cars for first dates

  • Story Highlights
  • Expert: Men's cars declare your income, what gets your engine running
  • Nissan 350Z -- Pure power, racy cockpit, over-the-top masculine styling
  • Mercedes-Benz CL 550: Luxuries will thrill date
  • Porsche Cayman -- Curvy haunches, sexy sloping hood will lure women
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By Sheryll Alexander
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(AOL Autos) -- Why should a female auto journalist give you advice on great date cars? Because as far as cars go, I know what turns a woman on and what really turns her off.

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Author says you'll get excited every time you let this car roar down the highway.

So, what do potential dates perceive when you drive up?

On the first date with my husband, he drove me around in an old Volvo sedan with very squeaky brakes. Derick is an actor and his car reflected his lifestyle as a struggling artist dedicated to his talent. I was obviously more impressed by his intelligence, reliability and determination rather than his status or style.

But most women these days are rather picky when it comes to a guy's ride. Your car really does send her all the right or wrong messages about how much money you make and what gets your engine running. Let's be honest, some girls just like a flashy ride too.

Your car's condition can also be a negative or positive. Is your car dull or does it shine? Most women are wary of extremes, so both the messy slob and the neat freak can make a woman run for the hills. Show her you can live with a little chaos, but that you mostly like to be clean and organized.

Some guys feel like they need to rack up as many "mack" points as possible to impress the ladies. I think personal integrity and animal-like chemistry should count way more than what kind of vehicle you drive, but I guess some guys feel that spending the extra money on a racy ride is certainly worth the dating gamble.

To help you get to dating paradise, or just to woo the lady in your life, we road tested five great sport cars. Each one should put you on the road to finding that perfect someone ... or someone who likes your car better than you.

Nissan 350Z Roadster
Mack Points: Pure Mack Daddy with powerful growling engine. Convertible top and sexy exterior lines.
Not Diggin' It: Rather small interior can make things tight, a bit too racy for commuting
MSRP: $27,900 - $40,250

First comes marriage, then the kids and then going out on a date seems more like a miracle rather than an exciting weekly excursion. So, my husband and I were overjoyed to be driving a sleek yet curvaceous Nissan 350Z Roadster on a recent trip to a world-class dinner at The Montage Resort & Spa in scenic Laguna Beach.

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While watching rather violent Pacific shore waves break over rocks, sand and cliffs, we sat in the Z's cozy leather seats and noted how its driving mechanics feel so much like driving a Corvette -- pure power, racy cockpit and over-the-top masculine styling.

The exterior design definitely calls out to a more hip crowd of daring men who like the Z Roadster's sexy curves and oversized haunches. The carbon silver color, a dark silver tone with glinting highlights, really showed off the Z's muscular frame with modern appeal.

Now, your date may not get off on the under-the-hood details like molybdenum-coated pistons and micro-finished crankshaft and camshafts, but you'll get excited every time you let this 3.5 liter V6 roar down the highway. We thoroughly enjoyed the tight handling and super fast acceleration, but the heavy-footed manual transmission was not so fun.

However, we were especially impressed with the sound engineering, which makes the Z Roadster roar like you've got thousands of growling beasts at your feet. Your date, no doubt, will definitely think you are a dynamic guy with this much power at your feet.

Certainly not girly in any way, the 350Z Roadster's interior is a marvel in masculine design. This all-black wonder of leather and chrome accents looks and feels even more like a race car with its ventilated leather and mesh-appointed seats, which in our case came in a very stylish two-toned black and burnt orange accent colors.

Remember to be sensitive about your date's delicate hair style, so don't put down the Nissan Z's soft top until you have stopped at a quiet scenic spot. The silent, smooth and quick design of the top-down function would even impress fictional ladies' man James Bond.

Basically, the Nissan 350Z Roadster is truly a he-man's ride come true whether girls like it or not.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
Mack Points: Rather inexpensive convertible, five seats can do double duty for dates and daddy duties
Not Diggin' It: Most feminine exterior of the bunch
MSRP: $25,699-$28,599

I watched the sleek, fully-lined cloth top drop down in about 20 seconds, placed my feet on the silver metal petals and my right hand on the leather-balled gear shift and sped away in the Mitshubishi Eclipse Spyder for a starry-night coastal ride to the luxurious St. Regis Hotel in Laguna Beach, California.

Even with the top down on my way to the hotel for dinner, my hairdo remained in tact as my bottom stayed warm from the heated leather seating surface. Perfect hair, a warm butt and an open top is a girl's dream come true, right?

If I were still a single woman and a date showed up driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, I'd definitely be impressed by his taste in sleek, taut and muscular-styled convertibles. And, my eyes would surely feast on the wave-form instrument panel with distinctive motorcycle-inspired gauges and ice-blue nighttime illumination.

The Eclipse Spyder is the convertible version of the popular Eclipse coupe. It's the soft top, which opens and closes at the touch of a switch and features a new powered tonneau cover which keeps the convertible top neatly hidden while maintaining the Spyder's overall style. On the inside a new LCD screen for audio, outside temperature and compass readings is within easy sight.

Powered by a 162 hp, 2.4 liter, 4-cylinder MIVEC engine (there is also a more powerful V6 with 260 hp available on the GT trim), Mitsubishi's Eclipse Spyder is a thrill to drive, especially this six-speed manual version. Your date will certainly think you are responsible when you tell her your chick magnet ride starts at just $26,000.

In the model we road tested, the bumping sound system (with 650 Watts by Rockford Fosgate and an eight-inch woofer housed in the back seat) would surely attract her attention too. And, you'd get off controlling it all via well-placed buttons built into the steering wheel. Guys, you definitely can't go wrong with this one!

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
MSRP: $103,100-$295,000

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
MSRP: $34,800-$44,500

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.

Porsche Cayman
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)
MSRP: $49,400

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.

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. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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