Best sports car $50-$100k winner - Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG

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The A 45 AMG hasn’t sat on its laurels after an impressive set of performance statistics saw it win this class last year, because for 2016 these have been enhanced. Out of a 2.0L engine, Mercedes has produced 280kW – up 15kW – and an extra 25Nm to bring it to 475Nm. That makes it one of the most powerful 2.0L engines going.

Part of the winning formula lies in how the power is transferred to the pavement, and in the A 45 AMG a 7spd dual-clutch transmission and Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive perform that task effectively. A kerb weight of just 1480kg helps.

Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system allows the A 45’s characteristics to be changed at the touch of a button, controlling key features such as engine, transmission, suspension, steering and air-conditioning to meet driver preference.

Hip-hugging Recaro seats earned top marks for comfort, as did the sporty interior treatment. An eight-inch colour display screen takes centre stage in the dash.

Standard features aren’t critical in this class, but it’s still worth noting the A 45’s high-end 12-speaker sound system, electric front seats with memory, panoramic sunroof, full LED lighting and HDD navigation.