The Heavy Hitters

BANG FOR YOUR BUCKS 2015

The trope ‘quality over quantity’ has never been more apt. There may only be eight contenders in the $50-$100K category, but it’s a world-class field

Boosting speed without the stickers heading too far north is more important than power-to-weight ratios


The Judges

Five car-nuts walk into a bar...

JEZ SPINKS

As a former gun subeditor, Jez’s speciality is making people look good by fi xing their writing

DAVID MORLEY

With his dislike of fools and acerbic wit, Morley’s speciality is making fun of people –repeatedly

WARREN LUFF

Mad driving skills mean Luff y’s speciality is looking down on people from race podiums

DYLAN CAMPBELL

As he-who-runs-theshow, DC’s speciality is juggling people like human tennis balls

SCOTT NEWMAN

Wrangler of the 22-car fi eld, and now Scotty is campaigning to include drift angle in the scoring WE’RE NOT sure if MashFeed, Buzzable, or whatever-named, list-obsessed websites have featured a “10 Two-Parters You Should Piece Together Before You Die”.

If they have, such a version of these clickbaits would surely include Quentin Tarantino’s gory-ous martial-art flicks Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 (if only to watch Uma Thurman slashing baddies while squeezed into a striking yellow jumpsuit).

Then there’s Guns ’n’ Roses’ verbally vicious Use Your Illusions I and II albums, which dropped enough F- and C-bombs to merit a trophy for the amount of profanities used on a compact disc.

And they could add MOTOR’s Bang For Your Bucks (which is far less violent, despite the name).

There was effectively a ‘to be continued…’ in our last issue, as we kicked off the first half of our 2015 BFYB coverage. Missed it? Outrageous. We could force you to download the iPad version of our October issue, but we try not to hold grudges here, so here’s a quick recap of what Bang is about and what happened last month.

BFYB is one of MOTOR’s biggest events – an annual mission to find Australia’s best-value sportscar. Eligibility requirements are straightforward: a car simply needs to be new in some notable way, cost less than $100,000, and, well, be sporty.

This gave us 22 toys – sorry, contenders – to play with, comprising 15 hatchbacks, three sedans, three coupes, W and one SUV. Of the 11 brands represented, Ford had the most contenders with the Fiesta ST and a trio of XR Falcons. Renault scored a hatch-trick with Clio RS, GT220, and RS275 Trophy. There were two hopes for Audi (S1, TT), BMW (M135i, 228i), Holden (Astra GTC, Astra VXR), Peugeot (208 GTi, 308 GT), and Volkswagen (Polo GTI, Golf R). And there was one each from Citroën (DS3), Hyundai (Veloster Turbo), Lexus (RC350), and Mercedes-Benz (GLA45 AMG). These were then split into two categories: $0-50K and $50K-100K.

Testing was conducted purely at Winton Raceway, with professional pedaller Warren “Wazza” Luff recording lap times and apex speeds, while dep-ed Scott Newman joining him to take care of other key stopwatch stats including 0-100km/h, 0-400m and 80-120km/h.

This data accounts for 80 per cent of a vehicle’s Bang Index score, with the 20 per cent formed from the seatof- the-pants assessment and rankings of our five judges.

When these figures were entered into our longestablished spreadsheet formulas along with the Price Index – based more simply around the respective cost of the cars – the Microsoft-ware flashed up the Ford Fiesta ST as the winner of the $0-50K field.

It compensated for the misfortune suffered by Ford’s other ST – the Focus that DNF’d after an incorrectly secured intake hose blew off to leave a not-so-blown hot-hatch.

The Fiesta’s victory reflected a generally strong showing from the smallest hot-hatches, with the Ford followed

Merc’s GLA45 will have to overcome the odds with the biggest price tag of 2015

home by the 208 GTi 30th, Polo GTI and Clio RS.

This is not to suggest that cheapness is key to winning BFYB. Think of the trend as having more to do with the greater prevalence of turbochargers among these pintsized performers – boosting speed without the stickers heading too far north (if at all) is more important here than power-to-weight ratios.

And while the results are mostly influenced by the data, it’s interesting that the top four almost exactly mirrored the judges’ subjective ratings – with just Polo GTI and Clio RS positions the other way around.

The two-time-winning Polo GTI might be disappointed with third despite this year advancing with a bigger engine and retreating on price with a manual, pipped not only by the ST but also Peugeot’s homonymous hatch that proved the 30th Anniversary tag marking the fabled 205 GTi was an apt one.

It was great to see the return of the Astra nameplate – a former winner in SRi Turbo guise – and the fastest of two versions, the VXR, finished fifth, with the GTC ninth.

Two XR6 Falcons were also present, with again the quicker variant (Turbo) enjoying as much of a gap in the final ladder as it did on the track.

The Megane GT220 replicated its midway position in Renault’s small car line-up, while the fortunes of other contenders in the lower half of the table could be simplified by being described as suffering from either a shortage of Bang (XR6, Astra GTC, Veloster Turbo, 308 GT) or excessive Bucks (S1 and DS3).

So what can we expect from our $50K-$100K group?

Audi’s TT has been more trendsetter than pacesetter since its conception, though the third-generation coupe’s handling promises to look tidier on the limit.

And BMW’s M135i and 228i may well be the last of the brand’s compact rear-drivers, so we’ll be savouring them regardless of their results.

No BFYB is complete without some quintessential Aussie muscle, and Ford Australia’s Falcon XR8 – nee FPV GT – will be hoping to emulate the likes of the HSV Clubsport R8 (2000), Holden Commodore SS (2006, 2007) and the company’s own XR6 Turbo Ute (2008). Victory is even a formality, according to many on MOTOR’s social media channels.

Lexus’s new coupe, the RC350, is the lone flag-bearer for V6s and certainly looks sharp, but will have to drive the same way to better the 18th place achieved by its four-door twin, the IS350, in 2014.

AMGs and SUVs are rarely found in BFYB, but while that makes Merc’s GLA45 a bit of an oddity it’ll also have to overcome the odds with the biggest price tag of 2015.

The heavy-hitters are capped off by two of the current hot-hatch greats: the Renault Megane RS275 Trophy-R, the hardcore version of the, er, hardcore Megane, and the Volkswagen Golf R that’s no longer a more expensive but less entertaining relative to the GTI.

A wider issue for the bigger hot-hatches is whether they can overcome recent history that’s seen the more diminutive members of the breed dominate.

We could list a few more questions, but let’s just get Part Two underway… M

THE HONOUR ROLL

YEAR WINNER

1994 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR 1995 Nissan 200SX 1996 BMW 328i 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX 1999 Subaru Impreza WRX 2000 HSV Clubsport R8 2001 Renault Sport Clio 2002 Impreza WRX STI 2003 Holden Astra SRi Turbo 2004 Lancer Evo VIII 2005 Impreza WRX STI 2006 Commodore SS 2007 Commodore SS 2008 Falcon XR6 Turbo Ute 2009 Subaru Impreza WRX 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2011 Volkswagen Polo GTI 2012 Volkswagen Polo GTI 2013 Mini Cooper GP 2014 Ford Fiesta ST

The Cars

THIS MONTH: $50K-$100K

More buck usually means more bang

AUDI TT

Third-gen coupe now has dynamics to better match desirability. At $70K, needs to set good times.

BMW 135i

An extra pinch of power added to classic bigengine- in-small-car recipe.

Can’t hurt the fl avour. C

BMW 228i

M235i struggled last year.

Munich’s more attainable coupe might address balance of bang and buck.

FORD FALCON XR8

A bargain as a repackaged FPV GT, but can it deploy all its V8 grunt to the track effectively? Readers’ pick.

LEXUS RC350

Don’t be put off by brand’s last coupe, the SC. This one is spun off the IS, so is no boulevard cruiser.

MERC GLA45 AMG

Brings world’s most powerful four-cylinder to the event. Price equally high, though.

RS275 TROPHY-R

Nürburgring lap-record conqueror should also be King of Winton, though this isn’t PCOTY.

VW GOLF R

Once the fl agship Golf, rather than the best. But 2014’s podium proved that’s no longer the case.

Meet the top three

LAST MONTH: $0-$50K Which bargain-bullet took home the choccies?

FORD FIESTA ST

Ford’s fi rst turbo Fiesta went faster than it did in 2014, contributing to a segment win.

PEUGEOT 208 GTI 30th

Homage to legendary 205 GTI made the most of its extra power, wider tracks and LSD to take silver.

VW POLO GTI

Two-time champ switched to bigger engine and introduced a standard manual gearbox.