Best Sports Cars in 2015
Australia’s best cars 2015: Sports Car under $50,000
Winner: Ford Focus ST
Focus ST takes a blunt approach to the hot hatch genre with straight-out power-plant muscle – 184kW and 360Nm in fact, which is no laughing matter when putting this through a front-wheel-drive axle. It’s always been the ST’s Achilles heel about how to deliver that power to the ground comfortably. So Ford has worked hard to address this with an upgrade in 2015 that saw improvements to front suspension, steering and driver input signals to complement the stability control system.
The refresh does not stop there. There’s a more intuitive and user-friendly interior layout including an eight-inch touch-screen that incorporates sat-nav, plus Ford’s smart SYNC 2 emergency response system and the MyKey driver profile feature.
Fuel economy is not important to buyers of sports cars, but a stop/start fuel-saving system on Focus is nonetheless a welcome advance, although its fuel economy score is still bettered by more than half the field.
The sports persona of the Focus ST is apparent as you slide into best-in-class front sports seats. Various exterior upgrades and treatments have also been applied to round off the overall sporting package.
Ford Focus ST
Australia’s best cars 2015: Sports Car $50,000 - $100,000
Winner: Mercedes Benz A45 AMG
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 the 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.
Mercedes Benz A45 AMG