Bang 2016: Round Two

Ding, ding! Ten cars duke it out for $50K-$100K value supremacy

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

WE CON­TINUE to be as­tounded by the rate of automotive progress and nowhere is the rapid ad­vance­ment more ev­i­dent than Bang For Your Bucks. In 2015, two of our $50K-$100K con­tenders man­aged to scrape un­der the 13-se­cond quar­ter mile bracket; 12 months later we have six cars in the 12s and our slow­est con­tender is trip­ping the beam at 13.4sec.

We’re break­ing new ground here, as when Bang For Your Bucks first bounded into ex­is­tence back in 1994, it wasn’t en­vis­aged cars this fast would ever face the BFYB for­mula. Re­mem­ber, this was back when all and sundry were in­vited, in­clud­ing the likes of the Honda NSX and Porsche 911 Turbo. Three of this year’s pre­mium crop would hose that force-fed Porker to 100km/h and two oth­ers would be snap­ping at its heels.

So what’s lin­ing up this year? Well, hav­ing dealt with the cheap ’n’ cheer­ful bri­gade last month, this time we have a full Bun­nings’ worth of se­ri­ous hard­ware. Lead­ing the charge are the cur­rent hot hatch kings, Audi’s RS3 and the Mercedes-AMG A45. The AMG took the honours in our com­par­i­son test ear­lier this year, but that means naught here. Both cars come with op­tional extras, the A45 hous­ing a limited-slip dif­fer­en­tial be­tween its front wheels while the RS3 is wear­ing wider front tyres and mag­netic dampers.

In­gol­stadt’s se­cond of­fer­ing is the new TT S. The base model im­pressed last year, firmly shak­ing off its ‘hair­dresser’s car’ tag, and ex­tra grunt and a sharper chas­sis are un­likely to hurt it around Win­ton. But, at $99,900, it’s hard up against the $100K price ceil­ing. Join­ing it in the pric­ing strato­sphere is BMW’s new $89,990 M2, the first proper M-car to ap­pear at BFYB since the 1M, built to a sim­i­lar recipe but now even cheaper and even faster.

In or­der to max­imise its chances BMW has sent along the six-speed man­ual, Oz-only Pure edi­tion. Ex­pen­sive cars rarely have enough Bang to com­pen­sate for their Buck, can Mu­nich’s new tur­bocharged baby be an ex­cep­tion?

“It wasn’t en­vis­aged cars this fast would ever face the Bang For Your Bucks for­mula”

Join­ing it from the BMW sta­bles is last year’s re­turn­ing $50K-$100K cham­pion, the bril­liant M135i.

Our next con­tender also uses a tur­bocharged straight-six to send power to the rear wheels through an au­to­matic gear­box, but that’s where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end be­tween the M135i and Ford’s Fal­con XR6 Sprint. At $54,990, if the Barra-pow­ered Bluey can run the num­bers it’s sup­pos­edly ca­pa­ble of, it should be in with a shout, but based on our ex­pe­ri­ence thus far, that’s a big if.

So, to the V8s. The XR8 Sprint was a late in­clu­sion. Be­ing no faster, but more ex­pen­sive than its six­cylin­der sib­ling, it was only ever go­ing to fin­ish be­hind it, but when we fell ag­o­nis­ingly short of se­cur­ing a Fo­cus RS (it was al­most a mat­ter of hours), it man­aged to se­cure a guernsey.

Round­ing out the Blue Oval bri­gade is an im­ported icon, the Ford Mus­tang GT. Pack­ing 306kW/530Nm from its 5.0-litre V8 for less than $60K ($57,490 to be pre­cise), it’s a strong propo­si­tion on pa­per. But few of Ford’s leg­endary pony cars, at least those lack­ing Shelby badges, have ever felt com­fort­able in a race­track en­vi­ron­ment.

Its clos­est ri­val, both on price and per­for­mance, is Holden’s SS-V Red­line. It’s a crit­i­cal suc­cess and should fare well with the judges, but whether it can post strong enough num­bers com­pared to its more pow­er­ful op­po­si­tion to se­cure Bang glory is an­other mat­ter en­tirely. One thing in its favour is its price tag; at $54,490, it’s the bar­gain of the group.

Last, but very far from least, is Chrysler’s 300 Core. The up­dated Amer­i­can brute fi­nally has the eight­speed auto it’s al­ways de­served, as well as some ex­tra grunt (now 350W/637Nm) from its 6.4-litre Hemi V8. It’s a dead-set weapon in a straight-line with one of the best en­gine notes you’ll ever hear and it’s a lot bet­ter in the corners that you might imag­ine. It can also atom­ise its tyres at will – and all for $65,000.

As ever, the judges won’t be eval­u­at­ing the con­tenders on their abil­ity as out-and-out track cars, but Win­ton does of­fer a safe en­vi­ron­ment for them to ex­plore the outer edges of each car’s per­for­mance and dy­nam­ics. Luffy will be re­spon­si­ble for all lap data, while Mor­ley and yours truly are in charge of straight-line per­for­mance fig­ures.

So, in the fastest and most pow­er­ful Bang For Your Bucks field ever, which car reigns supreme?

“Last month Holden’s 304kW SS Ute took the win, 6.2-litre grunt mak­ing it the fastest car in the field”

IF BY some freak se­quence of events you some­how missed last month’s $0-$50,000 con­test, here’s a quick re­cap. Holden’s VF II SS Ute took the win, 304kW/570Nm of 6.2-litre LS3 grunt mak­ing it over­whelm­ingly the fastest car in the field, which more than com­pen­sated for its rel­a­tively high $44,040 price tag.

Volk­swa­gen’s Polo GTI, up­dated for MY2016 with stan­dard adap­tive dampers, snuck home in se­cond place while round­ing out the podium was Peu­geot’s 208 GTi 250, killer cor­ner speeds re­sult­ing in an ex­cel­lent lap time.

Mazda’s 2.0-litre MX-5 was the judges’ pick, while the reign­ing two-time over­all win­ner, the Ford Fi­esta ST, fell to fifth place, its bar­gain price tag not enough to make up for its lack of fire­power in such a po­tent field. – SN

“Al­right, who needs their tem­per­a­ture taken?”

Three stand-out per­form­ers from last month’s crop in terms of per­for­mance (Holden), fun (Mazda) and price (Polo GTI) 9 7 8 6 5 11 10 4 12 1 3 2

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