The performance cars of 2019 you need to know about

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

The sports and performance car segment has long been a barometer of the health of an economy. If sporty new cars are selling well, then there’s a few shekels still washing around in the ether. Conversely, it’s also the first segment to feel the wrath of a product planner’s delete key if retail sentiment is off the pace.

It’s six of one and half a dozen of the other at the moment, it seems; retail sentiment is softening, but it’s a buyer’s market for special cars. 2019 is lining up as a banner year, too, with a host of hot metal coming our way. Let’s have a look at the pick of the bunch.

Aston Martin DBX


Rivals:  Maserati LevantePorsche Cayenne

Due: October 2019

There are few details available yet on Aston Martin’s entry into the world of high-performance crossovers, but early imagery suggests that the British brand isn’t being shy about giving the high-riding DBX some off-road chops.

Based on the same platform that underpins the new DB11, the DBX will be a petrol-only proposition, with powerplants likely to be sourced from Mercedes-Benz. These could include Merc’s excellent 3.0-litre straight six at the entry level, while a flame-spitting twin turbo V8 could potentially power a range-topper.

Aston Martin Valkyrie


Aston Martin Valkyrie


Rivals: McLaren SennaAston Martin Valkyrie, McLaren Senna, Ferrari La Ferrari, Koenigsegg Agera RS, Pagani Huayra BC

Due: December 2019

This is one outrageous rig, featuring arguably the most powerful naturally aspirated road-going engine ever built. The Valkyrie is being built in conjunction with Red Bull Technologies – legendary F1 designer Adrian Newey penned its sensuous form – while its monster 6.5-litre V12 motor is being built in conjunction with legendary British engine builders Cosworth. Early mail suggests it’ll boot out north of 820kW. Ulp.

With its gullwing doors, carbon fibre everything, and a hybrid power system to go along with that engine, the $4 million price tag should be no surprise. And if you’re thinking of snapping a couple up, too late – all 150 road and 25 track version slated for production have been claimed.

Audi RS5 Sportback

Audi RS5 Sportback


Rivals: Mercedes-AMG C63, BMW M4

Due: January 2019

Audi’s hotrod RS5 Sportback joins its wagon twin early in 2019, sharing the same 331kW/600Nm twin-turbo V6 powerplant that flings the grunt at all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic.

It’s a coupe bodystyle but equipped with four doors and a quasi-hatchback rear entrance. And because it’s an MY19 version of the RS 5 pairing, it’ll be graced with Audi’s digital dash, a heads-up display, wireless phone charger and rear USB ports. It’s also available with this exclusive green paint, too, called Sonoma Green.


Rivals: BMW M240i

Due: June 2019

Audi’s agreeable little two-seat coupe is in line for a mid-life facelift, having been on the scene since 2016. Don’t expect much in the way of dynamic fireworks or mechanical makeovers; the TT’s relative lack of sales will dictate a commensurately modest spend on updates by the company.

Audi R8

Rivals: McLaren 570S, Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT-R

Due: October 2019

Even though the Audi to beat them all has already gone through a mid-life tweak, Audi says its mid-engined V10 high-performance coupe will score another light update later in 2019. It’s unlikely to score any substantial updates, given how late in its lifecycle it is, but expect perhaps a little tickle-up on the already potent 456kW headline figure, as well as a further tidying of its dynamics. Perhaps a more track-inspired version of its RWS rear-driver, too? Never say never…

BMW 1 Series

RivalsMercedes Benz A-ClassAudi A3/S3

Due: November 2019

BMW is being pretty cagey on this one, but let’s have a swing anyway… Swapping to front wheel drive for the first time, the BMW 1 Series will still yield a performance variant – only this time it’s likely to mimic the M5 by offering all-wheel-drive in conjunction with a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. This will pitch it up against Mercedes-AMG’s inbound A-Class hotties.

Given the potential change to a front wheel drive layout, it does put questions marks around the fate of cars like the M140i – it may well even be given a stay of execution until BMW’s first real FWD hot hatch is, err, hatched.

BMW 3 series

Rivals: Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4

Due: September 2019

The all-new 3 Series will be built on top of a brand new platform, and will yield a new version of both the M3 and the M4, which may just sneak in before Santa comes at the end of next year. Expect them both to retain a six-cylinder layout.

First up, though, will be the 330i which will have M Sport kit as standard with an M Sport brake system, and the option of a limited slip rear diff.

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe


Rivals: Audi S8, Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Due: March 2019

While an M8 version of this sexy four-door coupe won’t hit the market until after 2019, the ‘entry level’ models will not be slow.

Available from early 2019 will be an 840d xDrive Coupe, powered by a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder diesel, making 235kW and 650Nm.

The M850i xDrive Coupe M Performance that will arrive alongside it will offer a 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine with 390kW and 750Nm of torque, so that should be pretty darn handy.


RivalsAudi TTFord Mustang convertible

Due: March 2019

At long, long last, the new BMW Z4 will land in 2019. Lighter and simpler than the outgoing version thanks to a fabric roof, the Z4 is designed to chase cars like the Porsche Boxster and Alpine A110. Of course, it also shares its architecture with the forthcoming Toyota Supra.

No specifics on pricing yet, but it looks like there will be three models on offer; an sDrive20i, sDrive30i (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) and the most potent, the M40i.

Power will be sent to the rear wheels, and the two sDrive cars will get a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine. The M40i, meanwhile, will score a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-potter making a healthy 250kW and 500Nm.

Ferrari 488 Pista

Ferrari 488 Pista


Rivals: McLaren 720S, Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Due: December 2019

Should be called the Pista de resistance… for this is the defining light of Ferrari’s V8 prowess. Packing 530kW and 770Nm in a lighter, more aerodynamic form, the Ferrari 488 Pista is a trackday toy like few others – though we’d love to see how it fares against Porsche’s 911 GT2 RS…

Hyundai i30N fastback

Hyundai i30N fastback

Rivals: Volkswagen Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane GT

Due: March 2019

Simply a longer and lower version of the already well-regarded Hyundai i30N hatch, the fastback is expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2019, in similar specs and at a similar price to its hatchback brethren. Hyundai likes to call it a performance coupe… and in this body form, it really has few, if any, rivals.

Expect the i30N fastback to arrive in a virtually identical mechanical form to that of its i30N hatch stablemate, which means a 202kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine sending drive to the front wheels, adaptive dampers and a comprehensive options menu that allow you to tweak the car to your liking.

Lexus LC-F

Rivals: Audi RS7

Due: November 2019

Could this finally be the sports car that defines the Lexus brand? The LFA was awesome but expensive and a bit oddball, but the RC F potentially powered by a brand new twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 – could be right on the money. Packing an expected 350kW or more, along with flared wheelarches, bigger tyres and a whole lot of attitude, it’ll surface late in 2019.

Mercedes-AMG A35

Mercedes-AMG A35


RivalsVolkswagen Golf RAudi S3

Due: late 2019

Merc will bring a mid-grade version of the barmy A45 to market in the back half of 2019, with the A35 being in the same vein as cars like its C43 sports sedan. The A35 is expected to offer around 225kW of performance from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, and it’ll retain an all-wheel drivetrain as well.

Mercedes-AMG A45

Rivals: Audi RS3

Due: late 2019

The high performance version of the new A-Class may well be the first hot hatch to push through the mythical 300kW mark for a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol powerplant. It’ll also bring adaptive dampers, all-wheel-drive, and much anger and rortiness to the up-to-now conservative new A-Class line up.

Lamborghini Urus

Lamborghini Urus


Rivals: Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Due: January 2019

What do you get when you blend the best elements from some of the world’s most premium brands and whack it underneath a body that a Hot Wheels designer couldn’t have dreamed up? The Lamborghini Urus.

The five-door, five-seat Urus uses a Porsche-sourced twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 478kW and 850Nm, powering an all-wheel-drive system with the ability to send up to 87 per cent of drive to the rear end.

It’s backed by a traditional eight-speed automatic transmission, which forms part of a multiple drive mode system that includes Strada, Sport and Corsa road modes as well as Terra (land), Neve (snow) and Sabbia (sand) settings. There’s also an Ego mode that allows for a mix of personalised settings.

The Urus uses components and tech found in cars like the Bentayga, Cayenne and Q7. It’ll do 0-100km/h in about 2.5 seconds, and its ten-piston brakes are the biggest ever fitted to any production car ever. Wow.

Porsche 911 992

Porsche 911 992


Rivals: Aston Martin DB11

Due: April 2019

The 992 burst onto the world stage at the LA motor show late in 2018. While it’s built around the same architecture as the 991, the 992 has been pulled, poked, prodded and massaged to make more power, have better handling, feature more safety tech and generally be better and faster than any 911 that’s gone before.

The 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged drivetrain stays the same, but will now make more power and torque than before  in fact, the acceleration times of the Carrera 4 could better those posted by the track focused 911 991 GT3.

As well, expect to see the Macan S and Panamera GTS land locally in the month prior.


Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe


Rivals: Aston Martin Rapide, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Porsche Panamera, Audi RS7

Due: mid 2019

It’s an AMG GT but not as we know it. The oddly named GT 4-Door Coupe is the first hot sedan built entirely by AMG, and it shares underpinnings with the E-Class. It’s expected to arrive in two guises; a 320kW GT53 six-cylinder and a 470kW GT63 twin-turbo V8.

Even though it’s pretty closely related to the E63 sedan, the GT 4-Door brings with it some of the pomp and glitz of the AMG GT line-up, particularly in the cabin. Equally, though, you’ll get similar levels of performance from the excellent E63… 

Mercedes-AMG Project One

Mercedes-AMG Project One


Rivals: Aston Martin Rapide, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Porsche Panamera, Audi RS7

Due: 2019

When a car company says it’s built a race car for the road, it’s probably stretching the truth. In the case of Mercedes-AMG, however, it pretty much is the truth. Under the outlandish carbon skin of the Project One lies the complex, cutting edge heart of the same car that took Brit Lewis Hamilton to the 2017 and 2018 F1 World Championships.

It’s got a projected 0-100km/h time of just 2.5 seconds, courtesy of a 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 engine teamed with four electric motors, and it’s making a neat one thousand horsepower (745kW). And its limited top speed is a measly 350km/h. Pricing is expected to be in the A$4 million bracket – though it’s rumoured that all 275 are already sold out. We’d bet that ardent Merc collector Lindsey Fox might be near the front of the queue.

Porsche Taycan

Porsche Taycan

RivalsTesla Model S

Due: Dec 2019

Long shot for 2019, this one, but Porsche is pushing hard with the development of its Taycan electric sedan. It runs on an all-wheel drive system driven by a twin-motor setup. The motors are permanent magnet synchronous, and the system is based on the one developed for the 918 Hybrid.

A 160kW/300Nm motor drives the massive 21-inch front wheels, while either a 240kW/340Nm or 320kW/550Nm motor will drive the even bigger 22-inch rears, depending on your spec.

Porsche is already claiming a 0-100km/h sprint of 3.4 seconds, with a top speed limited to 250km/h… and what it says is usually true. Add to that a 500km claimed range on the larger 95kWh battery, and 800-volt charging that can give you 400km of range in 20 minutes (or 100km in four)… where do we sign up?

Toyota Supra

Toyota Supra

Rivals:  BMW Z4, Nissan 370Z NISMO, Kia Stinger

Due: Late 2019

Seven years… that’s how long it’s been since Toyota first hinted that it might revisit the notion of a medium-sized sports coupe. Now, after a long and fruitful collaboration with BMW, the Supra is finally on the horizon (and maybe as soon as the Detroit Motor Show in January).

Stats are virtually non-existent on the internally coded A90 Supra, but figure on outputs of around 250kW and 450Nm, as well as an estimate weight of around 1500kg, a short wheelbase and wide front and rear track widths.

It’ll stay true to the notion of a rear-wheel-driven, six-cylinder petrol-powered two-door, though it may well forgo a manual gearbox (which really isn’t a drama these days; autos are generally quicker, and the Supra will get a ZF/BMW eight-speeder and a BMW limited slip diff). It’ll sit above the 86 in both size and price; we guess (hope?) that Toyota won’t make the Supra too premium at the base.