Choose my Car – $80K Performance Family Car

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Welcome to a new segment called Choose my Car – where I give some car buying advice to a certain anonymous reader. Today I’ve got a request to look at the best performance family car for under $80,000.


  • Cannot be a convertible, ute or any form of SUV/crossover.
  • Has to be European.
  • Must be made in 2013 or newer.
  • Safe – so 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
  • $80,000 budget, no more.
  • Must have over 200kW.
  • 4 seats or more.

1) 2016 Audi RS3 Sportback

The Audi RS3 Sportback is an amazing little hatch. Under the bonnet it has a 2.5L inline 5 producing a whopping 270kW and 465Nm, that can push the RS3 to 100 in 4.3 seconds (that’s Lamborghini Diablo territory!) upwards toward a top speed of 280 km/h – that’s outstanding for a little hot hatch. Although it is a hatchback, it’ll seat 5 and has ample cargo space. You can get a MY16 model with around 20,000km with a 7-speed auto for around $71K.

2) 2014-present Volkswagen Golf R MK7

As a bit of a Volkswagen afficianado, I love the Golf R. Producing 206kW from its 2.0L 4 cylinder turbocharged engine, the car is fairly powerful for a car of its size. The R comes with everything you’d expect from a VW – great fit and finish, build quality and reliability. You can get a 2014 model for $41K or brand new for just $59K.

3) 2013-present Volvo S60 Polestar

The Volvo S60 Polestar first launched in 2013 in Australia after a highly successful concept – it was a European performance hero that brought BMW, Audi and Mercedes power (albeit about 20kW less) with a reasonable price similar to that of a base 5 Series. Despite going through multiple facelifts and some engine changes, this spirit is still present in the Polestar. Under the bonnet of a 2017 model is a 2.0L 270kW 4-cylinder turbocharged AND supercharged engine, connected to an AWD system and a 6 speed automatic transmission. A 2015 facelifted model (which looks way better than the pre-facelifted model) with 40,000km goes for about $55,000, while they can be had new for a considerably-more-expensive and budget-stretching $99,000.

4) 2014-present Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG

Where do I start on the A 45 AMG? How about here: it has a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder producing 265kW. That’s right – 265kW – before the new, facelifted 294kW 2017 Audi RS3 comes to market it’s the most or the second most powerful mainstream 4-cylinder engine ever produced. An MY14 model with around 60,000km can be had for around $50,000, and unfortunately a new one is just out of the price range ($85000).

5) 2017-present Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce

Don’t get me started on this one. I LOVE the Giulia – it’s by far the best sedan of all time and even defeats sports cars like Mustangs and BMW M2s. The Veloce model is the sporty model just below the AWESOME Quadrifoglio. The Veloce comes with a 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder that produces 206kW of power and 400Nm of torque. Don’t forget you’re buying an Alfa – so you’re buying a car that KICKS BUTT in the looks department. You can get them brand new for just under $79K – just shy of the $80K budget.


5th place: Volkswagen Golf R – I’m giving the Golf R last place due to its power output – 206kW isn’t enough to cut it. However, I commend it for its price – $59K new is pretty impressive.

4th place: Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG – I love the A45 and all, but I just don’t like the full package. I’m not too much of a fan of its styling.

3rd place: Volvo S60 Polestar – The Polestar is a great car, however – it doesn’t have the wow factor of some of the other cars out there. Also, to get a model in the price range you need to substitute for the 258kW I6.

2nd place: Audi RS 3 Sportback – this car is basically perfect except for one thing – it’s still an Audi.

1st place: Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce – what can I say? It’s an Alfa. It makes decent power. It’s in the budget. What’s more to love? This is the pick of the bunch.

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