A category which put thrills and entertainment ahead of practicality is always going to be a favourite with the judges
Drive Car of the Year 2021 – Best Sports Car (under $100k)
With a field that includes a front-drive, rear-drive and all-wheel-drive finalist, the Best Sports Car Under $100,000 is a competition like no other!
Who doesn’t want to have a bit of fun behind the wheel from time to time?
Sports cars are becoming more advanced, more accessible and arguably more sporty than ever, all while evolving from the traditional two-door, rear-drive, manual-transmission approach of old.
So much so that the car which featured in our assessment group as a finalist but didn’t quite make the top three, is all three of those things.
The two-door, rear-drive, manual-transmission Ford Mustang was a hoot to drive at our controlled testing facility, but just doesn’t have enough polish on the road, particularly in standard GT form. Even in its (now sold out) peak R-Spec incarnation (which makes our price cut-off by just $20), the big Ford is still a fun but ultimately one-trick pony. The Mustang remains an unashamed muscle car, with plenty of noise and pace, but just not enough table-manners to make the dais in this year’s Drive Car of the Year awards.
This leaves us with the ‘other’ Ford, the front-wheel drive, manual-transmission Fiesta ST as the quintessential hot hatch, and the Toyota Supra as the big-tech turbocharged rear-drive grand-touring coupe.
Both usable in their daily ‘off’ settings, providing a compliant and almost comfortable ride about town, while being able to entertain all the way to the driving limit when you are given a chance to let them run loose.
However, both make compromises on the way to the top which leaves space for a car that doesn’t compromise much of anything at all, and in the process defines a new sub-category, the hyper hatch!
And the Winner is…
Mercedes-AMG A45 S
A weaponised hatchback. The A45S has catapulted the hot hatch game into the stratosphere.
With all drive types and price ranges covered by this segment, there’s not a lot of ways to put a foot wrong. The Fiesta ST shows that you can still have a huge amount of fun for a very reasonable outlay, where the Toyota Supra reminds us there is still a place for big engine grand-tourers.
But the sheer ability of the Mercedes-AMG A45 S, and the way in which it has raised the bar for hot hatches and sports coupes alike, is why it takes the overall prize in this category.
Quite simply, the A45 has the numerical credentials of a supercar, and delivers its performance in a supremely entertaining and accessible package, in a manner that changes the game for all that will follow.
Read the full comparison at Drive.com.au
2021 Drive Car of the Year – Best Sports Car (under $100k)