Rremember Bang For Your Bucks, MOTOR beloved award for best affordable driver car on sale? Well, we’ve heard your cries, and although it’s been forced on hiatus for the past few years as a result of the global pandemic, it’s back – just not as you know it.
When we got the green light to run Performance Car of the Year in 2022, we were told to make it bigger and better than ever. As a result, we jumped at the chance to dust off the BFYB formula, gave it a full rebuild in the process, and incorporated it into our massive Performance Car of the Year test week.
This means that there are now two MOTOR awards, with the new Sports Car of the Year title aimed at champions accessible up to $100,000, while Performance Car of the Year continues to fuel dreams with more expensive (and more powerful) headliners. ).
Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of the winners on Tuesday, March 29.
Until then, meet your competitors for the inaugural Under $100,000 Sports Car of the Year contest and leave your pre-event favorites in the comments below!
BMW is making its first swing into the front-drive performance hatch segment with its plucky 128ti. Powered by a 180kW turbo-four matching the GTI, the premium hatch has one car in particular in its sights. There’s little precedence in the halls of Munich, but BMW has plenty of experience in creating great sports cars. A lot of curiosity surrounds this little hatchback, let’s see how it does.
Specifications: 1998cc inline-4; 180kW; 380Nm; 8-speed automatic; $56,900
Ford Focus ST
Often overshadowed by the previous generation’s halo RS, the recently updated Focus ST is a hugely underrated package. With a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-four lifted and detuned from the Mustang, the muscular hatch rocks with 206kW and 420Nm. Does it have the composure to match its playfulness? It will take it to stand out against such tight competition.
Specifications: 2261cc inline-4; 206kW; 420Nm; 6-speed manual; $44,890
VW Golf GTI
The reigning king of the hot hatchback segment launches a new generation and relies more on increased technology rather than increased power outputs to elevate its dynamics. Our first driving experience impressed us, but can the new adult Golf GTI hold its own against nine worthy peers?
Specifications: 1984cc inline 4 cylinder; 180kW; 370Nm; 7-speed dual-clutch; $53,300
The most affordable offering of all our competition, and the hot hatch of the moment. The i20 N instills the dynamic prowess of the N division into Hyundai’s smallest local package. With smart technology and bespoke engineering, expect the little one to punch well above their weight on the road, but will they be more muscular on the track?
Specifications: 1591cc inline 4-cylinder; 150kW; 275Nm; 6-speed manual; $32,490
Hyundai i30 Sedan N
The N division’s new offering, the i30 Sedan N, is based on a newer, lighter platform and makes a compelling case as a sports sedan under $50,000 by delivering performance and functionality in impressive measures. . The 206kW/392Nm powertrain is familiar, proven and efficient, but does it retain the infectious personality of the i30 N Hatch?
Specifications: 1998cc Ilnine-4; 206kW; 392Nm; 8-speed dual-clutch; $49,000
Mazda MX-5 GT RS
A tighter, firmer version of Mazda’s back-to-basics roadster. The MX-5 GT RS’s modest 135kW aspirated power output may pale in comparison to younger competition, but its rear-drive six-speed manual setup promises an ever-renewed driving experience. How far can his winning personality carry in the final tally?
Specifications: 1998cc inline-4; 135kW; 205Nm; 6-speed manual; $47,020
Ford Mustang Mach 1
If power for pennies is the name of your game, the Mustang Mach 1 is the player to watch. It’s the only V8 in the SCOTY field and, with 345kW/556Nm ready, it’s powerful enough to take on the premium PCOTY field, but its price sees it competing in the junior division. Power is one thing though, can it keep its cool through track testing? If possible, this will be the first Mustang MOTOR story of surviving the grueling circuit test.
Specs: V8 5038cc; 345kW; 556Nm; six-speed manual; $83,241
Skoda Octavia RS
Skoda’s Octavia RS uses a proven formula with many components shared with the Golf GTI and delivers an identical 180kW/370Nm of power through its front-wheel drive. The cheeky Czech ups the roominess factor with practical wagon bodywork and under-the-radar panache. Does it have the tough streak we’re looking for, though?
Specifications: 1984 cc inline 4-cylinder: 180 kW; 370Nm; 7-speed dual-clutch; $48,290
The second generation of Subaru’s BRZ sports coupe is here to address the shortcomings of its predecessor. The attractive price remains, but has it lost its character? More importantly, does the extra 22kW and 38Nm of this new 2.4-litre engine make a significant difference?
Specifications: 2387cc; 174kW; 250Nm; 6-speed manual; $38,990
Toyota GR Yaris Rallye
The base GR Yaris sparked a flurry of hype in last year’s PCOTY proceedings, but was swept away by crucial missing kit – namely Torsen differentials and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires – and grounded in eighth place. The complete Yaris Rallye GR is here to redeem, but can the SCOTY field’s honed rally hatch and only AWD offering improve on its more affordable counterpart?
Specs: 1618cc inline-3; 200kW; 370Nm; 6-speed manual; $54,500
It’s a big strong field under $100,000, but there are a few players who couldn’t make it on game day. BMW missed the cut with a few contenders. We suspect the new M240i would have done well, and the price of the M2 CS would have seen it swing to the top of both categories. Audi’s new S3 also just missed the time, as did the Cupra Leon, so look for them in next year’s race.