The 13 most exciting performance cars coming in 2021

From Le Mans hypercars to bullet bantamweights, pencil this hot baker’s dozen into your diary

Mustang Mach 1 Main Jpg

After the year we’ve had it’s easy to forget the seemingly unstoppable march of new fast cars remains in full swing. That’s despite catastrophic weather events, a global pandemic and the loss of local icons threatening, at times, to end all the fun.

As you’ll see, 2021 is shaping up to be a busy year for performance cars. We've already salivated over the new BMW M3/M4 and Nissan's wonderfully retro 400Z in serious detail, but there's another group detailed below that will multiply your excitement.

Get ready for the Mach 1, our most track-focused atmo Ford Mustang yet, or the Chevrolet Corvette – Australia’s first taste of the high-performance GM brand’s halo product. The Mk8 VW Golf GTI will aim to set a new hot hatch benchmark, while Hyundai’s i20 N takes the brand into new, hotly contested waters.

At the top end of town, AMG’s Project One will bring F1-derived fantasy to life alongside Toyota’s all-new Le Mans hypercar. Brace yourself...

Volkswagen Golf Gti 21 Web Jpg

1. Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA

Hopes remain high for Alfa Romeo’s track-terrorising Giulia GTA and GTAm to come here.

FCA UK has reportedly confirmed some of the 500 units planned will be right-hand drive, while FCA Oz maintains it’s looking at the 397kW twin-turbo V6 four-door for our shores.

Celebrating its 110th birthday, the pair sport wider tracks, tweaked suspension, new aero (adjustable on GTAm) and will ditch Pirelli for Michelin tyres.

The hardcore GTAm sheds 100kg and sports a two-seat cabin, while the GTA shares its carbon body panels and Lexan windows. The 1520kg GTA covers 0-100km/h in a claimed 3.6sec.

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2. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

As usual the Mercedes-Benz S-Class will offer a jewel-adorned statement on safety, comfort and, ahem, class, but even MOTOR has reason to salivate over the new seventh generation before the AMG versions arrive.

Besides the impressive augmented reality head-up display and frontal airbags for rear occupants, the new S580 mates a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 with EQ Boost hybrid tech, good for 370kW and 700Nm.

Those numbers are directed through a nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive for now. There’s no word on a V12 yet, but the six-pot hybrid 580e can go 100km on electric power alone.

Mercedes Benz S 580 4 Matic Lang Amg Line 46 Web Jpg

3. Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai’s been busy under the i30 N’s sheets, applying the biggest changes to its hot hatch since its 2017 debut.

Besides welcoming a new face and redesigned lights, it has squeezed out 4kW/39Nm from the 2.0-litre turbo four, dropping the 0-100km/h sprint to 5.9sec.

Lighter wheels cut 15 unsprung kilograms and the front brake discs are now 360mm, up from 345mm. New seats also shed 2.2kg. Crucially, Hyundai’s finalised its eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It adds weight, but can hold the torque between shifts when you’re flat-out.

Expect it and the six-speed manual here in early 2021.

2021 Hyundai i30 N hatchback

4. McLaren Sports Series

The supercar world is shrinking in cylinder count but burgeoning in technology. Like Aston Martin and more recently Maserati, McLaren is readying a new dynasty of Sports Series models designed around a V6 hybrid layout that will drop its long serving Ricardo-built V8 and Monocell architecture.

Woking is bringing the new Sports Series’ carbon-fibre chassis construction in house, claiming it’s so light it’ll offset the extra flab from batteries and hybrid gear. Reports are putting the 570S replacement’s powertrain at 444kW-plus.

Expect a full reveal early 2021 and sales shortly after.

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5. Honda Civic Type R LE

Honda’s sole Type R is set to frighten RenaultSports and Golf GTIs alike when the Limited Edition arrives in the first half of 2021.

As the name suggests, Honda’s only making 1020, with 20 of the Sunlight Yellow cars coming here for $70K through a lottery system.

Its powertrain is untouched, but engineers have deleted sound deadening from select areas while tuning the steering and suspension to suit new lightweight BBS wheels wrapped with track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tyres.

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6. AMG Project One

The most successful F1 team currently in paddock will enter the hypercar fray with the Project One early next year.

Designed around the 2014-2016 F1 hybrid powertrain, it’s promised to deliver more than 735kW with extra electric motors and a 1.6-litre turbo V6. Of course, it’ll get cutting-edge aero and bespoke NASA-grade suspension to match.

Despite AMG promising the 275 (priced of $3.5m) all in LHD, at least nine will come to Oz.

Mercedes Amg Project One 53 Web Jpg

7. Ford Mustang Mach 1

Ford has locked and loaded 700 Mach 1s for local shores next April, treating Oz to its closest taste of a factory Shelby Mustang.

Priced slightly less than $84K, the Mach 1 mates its 5.0-litre atmo V8 (343kW/556Nm) to a GT350 six-speed manual or a 10-speed auto fitted with improved cooling. All models also score GT350 and GT500-derived cooling systems up front and underneath.

All to be confirmed is a handling pack that adds wider wheels and downforce-aiding aero.

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8. Volkswagen Golf GTI

The new Golf GTI focuses on evolution rather than revolution with improved suspension technology dominating news over any significant power hike.

Confirmed for Oz before the end of next year’s second quarter, handling will centre around a Vehicle Dynamics Manager (VDM) module that oversees how the adaptive damping talks to the standard locking front diff.

The seven-speed DSG is now a shift-by-wire unit and VW has confirmed a six-speed manual. Its 2.0-litre turbo four is rated 180kW/370Nm.

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9. Genesis G70

Drift and mode are two words you think you’d never hear along with Genesis G70, mainly because it’s rear-wheel drive.

But the redesigned G70 due early 2021 is debuting a new all-wheel-drive powertrain for its 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 that can still bake the rears when you’re up for a hoon.

It’s not confirmed for Oz, but our V6s will score a Sport+ mode to up the attitude along the same lines, and an exhaust valve for a more “aggressive exhaust signature”. 

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10. Hyundai i20 N

Hyundai has dropped its go-fast brand a weight class to fight Ford’s Fiesta ST and Volkswagen’s Polo GTI with a mini-N.

Relying on the 1.6-litre from the brand’s N-line range, fitted with new injectors and water pump, the i20 N puts 150kW/275Nm through the front wheels and an LSD.

When it arrives next year (likely in the first quarter) expect the i20 N to come in around $30K. Oh, and the five-door hatch will exclusively use a six-speed manual gearbox. 

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11. Mercedes-AMG E63 S

BMW and its M5 are bracing for battle against a refined, more mature E63 S that will be well and truly launched at the start of 2021.

The single-variant range will wrap its 450kW and 850Nm twin-turbo V8 with the fresh-faced E-Class design, sporting a tweaked rear-end and new colours. Inside a new double-stacked AMG sports wheel greets drivers.

Engineers also have injected more comfort into the luxo-brute’s suspension and refined the aero at high speeds, AMG claims.

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12. Toyota GR Super Sport

Top flight Le Mans racers are set to return to showrooms under hypercar rules for the World Endurance Championship next year.

Toyota has publicly flaunted its commitment to the formula after driving its Gazoo Racing Super Sport around the French circuit at this year’s crowdless race.

Details are scarce on the open-top hypercar, but rules limit power to 500kW with a minimum weight of 1030kg. Manufacturers need to build 20 production-ready units to go racing.

Australia’s favourite cars, made fast: why you should care about Gazoo

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13. Chevrolet Corvette

Australia’s first Chevrolet Corvette also happens to be the bloodline’s most radical, with the mid-engine C8 locked in for 2021 despite COVID-19, parts shortages and labour disputes shaking production targets.

Holden’s death now sees General Motors Specialty Vehicles take the reins for distribution. When it arrives the C8 promises a shift in the Yank supercar’s story, with its mid-mounted atmo LT2 V8 producing 369kW/637Nm with the Z51 performance pack.

That’s sent to the rear wheels exclusively through an eight-speed dual-clutch, good for 97km/h in less than 3.0sec.

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AND ONE MORE: Maserati MC20

It's been a long-time between drinks for mid-engine Maseratis but the MC20 promises to return the brand to former glories in supercar land.

Sporting a seriously powerful 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 dubbed The Nettuno, the MC20 lowers its engine into a carbon-fibre chassis tub that keeps weight under 1500kg. Cutting-edge aero is also worked into the MC20's understated and imposing curves for extra performance, keeping its 463kW and 730Nm in check at speed.

Priced from $438,000, it's certainly marking its place among the Ferrari 488s and Porsche 911 Turbos of the world, but even if you could afford it, next year's local allocation is all sold out.

MC20 rear three


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