Performance car performers

Dress-up kit: You can order a full set of aerodynamic aids. We wouldn't.
Dress-up kit: You can order a full set of aerodynamic aids. We wouldn't.
Winged blunder: The car looks so much better without its plastic add-ons.
Winged blunder: The car looks so much better without its plastic add-ons.
Toyota 86 Badge: Graphic says it all.
Toyota 86 Badge: Graphic says it all.
Tight in the rear: Unless you're a laptop or briefcase.
Tight in the rear: Unless you're a laptop or briefcase.
Cabin environment: Plastics, bad. Alcantara upholstery and driving position, good.
Cabin environment: Plastics, bad. Alcantara upholstery and driving position, good.
Driving position: Perfect place from which to conduct a car, and well upholstered too.
Driving position: Perfect place from which to conduct a car, and well upholstered too.
The Toyota 86 in TRD form.
The Toyota 86 in TRD form.
The Toyota 86 in TRD form.
The Toyota 86 in TRD form.
The Toyota 86 sports car in GT form.
The Toyota 86 sports car in GT form.
The Toyota 86 sports car.
The Toyota 86 sports car.
The Toyota 86 sports car.
The Toyota 86 sports car.
Inside the Toyota 86.
Inside the Toyota 86.

It was another sizzling year on the performance-car category of the AMI Insurance NZ Autocar Car of the Year - across a range of price points.

Honda surprised early on with its fun hybrid (yes, truly), the CR-Z, a little dart of a thing.

But Toyota kind of trumped everyone with its much hyped 86. The most exciting thing from Toyota in recent memory, the front-engined, rear-drive sportster redefined inexpensive sporting fun.

Also small and strictly twoseat only, Mini's kart-like Coupé scalded.

Heading upscale a little, BMW added a hot 2.0-litre turbo variant to the 1 Series lineup for Golf GTI money, and also debuted the tech-fest that is the new M5. It quickly became the fastest rear-drive car we'd ever tested, posting a 4.3-second 0-100 kmh run, only to be upstaged by the new 911 Carrera, which quite literally has us stunned – and then the much cheaper new Boxster proved equally impressive, if not better.

Also updated for 2012 were the Mercedes C63 AMG, Renault Mégane RS265 and a new SLK55 AMG from Mercedes.

Though we haven't yet driven it, the Focus ST will just make the cut-off date, and our breath is bated.

* Autocar and Stuff motoring readers also have a chance to choose their best vehicle and win a $500 Z card at the same time. Simply Click here to enter and you could win enough fuel to keep you motoring through summer.

PERFORMANCE: The Porsche 911.
PERFORMANCE: The Porsche 911.

NZ Autocar