Australian buyers have a generous handful of options when it comes to shopping around for an affordable sports car package in 2023, with many manufacturers sticking by their range of hot hatches, performance coupes, and even some rapid sedans and wagons.
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Join us as we take a closer look at ten of the best affordable sports car packages you’ll find on the Australian market in 2023.
In recent years, Hyundai has moved aggressively into the Rally world, and used the knowledge gained while racing to create a range of wonderful and impressively-affordable sports cars.
The i20 N is proof of the fact that good things come in small packages, and comes powered by an extremely perky 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol throwing 150kW of power and 275Nm of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission only.
To help out with the power, there’s a set of upgraded disc brakes, a mechanical limited-slip differential and a launch control system that make the i20 N feel like a road-going rally car, with a sporty exhaust system that helps to complete the experience.
The GR86 is the second generation of Toyota’s affordable sports coupe design that has been co-developed alongside the Subaru BRZ, with the two companies splitting the development costs.
The end result of this collaboration is an impressive performance package for the money, and a celebration of the purists’ approach to developing a sports car that offers sublime handling characteristics for all levels of drivers.
The GR86 comes powered by a 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine that produces 174kW of power and 250Nm of torque which is thrown to the rear wheels via your choice of a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.
Standard equipment for the GR86 GT includes a set of 17-inch alloys, LED headlights, a leather steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry, and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
While Ford has removed the majority of its Fiesta compact hatch variant from the Australian market, the company is sticking by its performance hatch, the Fiesta ST.
The Fiesta ST is a great pick for buyers in the market for a charismatic and smile-inducing hot hatch thanks to its tiny little 1.5-litre three-cylinder that produces an impressive 147kW of power and 320Nm of torque.
In a nod to driving enthusiasts, power is thrown to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission only, with a launch control system and mechanical limited-slip differential fitted as standard to help carve its way through tight turns.
Standard equipment for the Fiesta ST includes a set of 18-inch alloys, Matrix LED headlights, leather and suede upholstery, cruise control, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
The second generation of Subaru and Toyota’s co-developed two-seat sports car package has seen engine capacities increase, as well as a stiffer platform to give it even more prowess in the corners.
As we’ve mentioned in the GR86, the BRZ receives the same 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol - which is up from 2.0-litres in the previous BRZ - while the body offers a 50 per cent increase in torsional stiffness.
Standard equipment for the BRZ includes a set of 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an 8.0-inch infotainment system, while opting for the BRZ S adds a set of heated front seats and upgraded suede and leather upholstery.
The Hyundai i30 N is an outstanding hot hatchback that will have you questioning if you need any more power or performance than what’s on offer in Hyundai’s best attempt.
The i30 N comes powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder throwing out 206kW of power and 392Nm of torque to the front wheels via your choice of a manual or dual-clutch transmission, and sprints to 100km/h in just 5.4 seconds.
Hyundai fits the i30 N with an electromechanical limited-slip differential, and an adjustable sports exhaust system that pops and barks on command and adds some serious personality into the mix, making for one of the best all-round hot hatches you’ll find on the Australian market.
Fiat’s hardcore treatment for its iconic little 500 makes for one of the most unique and surprising hot hatch experiences on the road, with the Abarth 695 wasting no time to make a long-lasting impression behind the wheel.
While it might be small, don’t be fooled, because the Abarth 695 Competizione comes powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine that produces 132kW of power and 250Nm of torque in a lightweight body that sprints to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds.
The package receives a generous heap of mechanical and visual upgrades over the standard 500, headlined by a sports exhaust system, upgraded Brembo brakes and a Koni front suspension system that helps to minimise body roll and make the 695 a treat in the corners.
The Subaru WRX is one of the most famous names in the world of affordable sports cars and, thankfully, over time it’s lost little of the magic that has made it a cult-classic.
In its latest form, the Subaru WRX comes powered by a 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that throws 202kW of power and 350Nm of torque to all four wheels via a six-speed manual or CVT automatic, with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive platform also gaining a torque vectoring system.
The WRX can be optioned in a sedan and wagon design, with the latter offering a generous 492L boot that drops to 414L in the sedan, but remains a practical offering considering its performance abilities.
In the course of its four generations, the Mazda MX-5 has helped to shape how we think of a charming, fun and affordable sports car package - and the latest generation is by far the best yet.
Mazda’s recipe for the MX-5 is remarkably simple and very true to the original’s design brief, with a perky engine mounted up front, power sent to the rear wheels, lightweight construction, and a perfect 50:50 weight distribution making it one of the best cars on the road - regardless of price.
Under the bonnet, Mazda’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder throws 135kW of power and 205Nm of torque to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic or manual gearbox, with a clever kinematic posture control system fitted to the suspension and torque-vectoring system that make it extremely agile in the bends.
If you’re looking for more of a spacious and practical package that can still set your hair on fire, Skoda’s Octavia RS is a very impressive performance option that is available in both a sedan and wagon design.
The Octavia RS range comes powered by the same engine you’ll find in the VW Golf GTI, which means there’s 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque thrown to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
To help out with all that power, the Octavia RS gains an electronic locking differential for the front wheels to curb understeer and make it pivot in tight corners, and makes for a wonderful driving experience.
As standard, the Octavia RS receives 19-inch alloys, red brake calipers, RS sport seats wrapped in leather, a lowered sports chassis and a virtual cockpit for the driver, atop features like Matrix LED headlights and a 10-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
We’ll wrap up our list with one of the most desirable hot hatch packages from Toyota, the almighty GR Yaris.
The GR Yaris has been quick to carve itself a spot in the automotive history books thanks to its incredibly powerful three-cylinder engine, rally-inspired suspension & brake packages, and its unrelenting approach to speed and pure thrills on the road.
It comes powered by a 1.6-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder engine that produces a barely-believable 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque that is thrown to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission that makes you feel like a bonafide rally driver.
It’ll sprint to 100km/h in just five-seconds and carry more speed through a corner than some supercars, making for one of the most pure driving experiences you’ll find in any car, let alone a package priced so reasonably.
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