If you've foresworn the demise of the performance car, you'd be wrong. And you should be glad that you're wrong. In 2024, a veritable bevy of new performance models is heading to Australian shores – one of them with a naturally aspirated V8, a six-speed manual gearbox and rear-wheel-drive. And not costing the GDP of a small oceanic nation.
In this article, we give you the new performance models coming this year – the ones good enough, on-paper at least, to pose a serious threat to the state of your personal finances.
If the Abarth brand has proven one thing, it's that its designers and engineers know how to make cars fun, exciting, even a bit funny in the best possible way. We have nothing but fond memories of the Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari, which existed purely to entertain (and remove $69,990 from the bank accounts of Ferrari owners).
The 500e promises an electric Abarth that puts a fat grin on your face. With its single 113kW/235Nm electric motor powering the front wheels, Abarth has worked hard at a fake engine noise that imitates old Abarths, but “even more powerful and iconic”. It's either going to be a hit or a miss, but either way we can't wait to try it. Priced from $60,500.
With sedans sadly an endangered species, any new four-door is cause for celebration. The new 5-Series has us giddy, if for no reason other than the electric versions such as the single-motor i5 eDrive40 and dual-motor M60 xDrive, but at the prospect of the as-yet-unconfirmed 540i xDrive coming to Australia or even better, the next M5.
That vehicle stands to be one of the most important performance releases of 2024, with a rumoured plug-in hybrid system supporting the existing 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, for all-wheel-drive, drift mode, a short electric-only range and outputs possibly exceeding the 550kW and 1000Nm of the XM performance SUV, which has already employed the same powertrain. Yikes.
Falcon and Commodore are long gone, so it feels extra special to be able to say there's a new, rear-drive, naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 muscle coupe coming to Australia – one with 372kW, 566Nm and a six-speed Tremec manual, capable of flat-shifting (for the mechanically unsympathetic amongst us).
That's the new Ford Mustang, one that could be the last of its kind. While the power figures above relate to the special $99,102 Dark Horse edition, the GT still cops 347kW and 550Nm, and is priced from $77,002 for the six-speed manual GT ($80,902 for the 10-speed auto). Inside there is a massive dual-screen display, lending the old 'Stang a high-tech feel.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
Most sporty electric vehicles have, until approximately now, been created by a team of engineers and designers seemingly – going by the product – against their will. At last, with Hyundai's new Ioniq 5 N, it seems the design and engineering teams have thought about how to make an electric performance car as fun to drive as possible, beyond mere acceleration.
With eye-opening outputs of 478kW/740Nm, the Ioniq 5 N can sprint from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 3.4 seconds – so it still has the acceleration. But it also has steering wheel paddles with artificial gear ratios, what is reportedly a convincing fake engine noise, and even a decent drift mode. Forget that house deposit, this could be the best $111,000 you spend all year.
While AMG fans continue to mourn the replacing of the V8 in their long-adored C63, there is a vehicle that may salve their woes: the new Mercedes-AMG CLE53. While it's not a V8, a 330kW/560Nm turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six is plonked within a lusty, pumped two-door coupe body. There's all-wheel-drive, however a drift mode allows the engaging of rear-drive-only.
AMG claims 0-100km/h potential of 4.2 seconds, while there's rear-wheel-steering and a mild hybrid system. Helping forget the new C63, the CLE53 could be the most unexpected performance car hit this year. Pricing is yet to be released, but expect it to be somewhere around, or north of, the current E53 Coupe's $170,000.
The brand once known for its driver-focused roadsters is getting back to its roots with the all-electric Cyberster. A two-seat convertible intended to take on the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 (both of which will be electric before too long) the Cyberster is offered in dual-motor and rear-drive versions overseas, with up to 400kW/725Nm and proper 0-100km/h acceleration of 3.2 seconds.
Australian pricing and spec is yet to be confirmed, but we're eager to sample the 231kW rear-drive version in particular. You can safely set high expectations for build quality, too, based on later MGs such as the MG4, which have come in leaps and bounds compared to fairly shoddy vehicles such as the cheapo MG ZS.