Battle of the hatches
There is no automatic gearbox available in the ST for now, while both hot VWs offer a dual-clutch transmission option for $2500.
The new king of the hot hatches arrives in October when BMW introduces its stonking new M135i, priced from $68,400 (plus on-road costs) and $72,400 for the auto. Powered by a potent 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, the new M135i (above) will comfortably see off all hot-hatch competition, accelerating from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds in eight-speed auto form, almost as fast as the mighty M3 Coupe, and 5.1 seconds with the six-speed manual.
This makes the M135i seven-tenths of a second faster than the current hot-hatch king, Audi’s S3 Sportback, and the related Volkswagen Golf R, both in auto form and powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbos driving all four wheels.
The rear-drive BMW undercuts the price of the Audi S3 by $3300, but the $4000 premium for the acclaimed fast-shifting eight-speed semi-automatic transmission makes it $700 more expensive than its most direct rival.