It’s week two of our review of vehicles entered for AJAC Canadian Car of the Year. And, today we look at an interesting and eclectic group of cars that fall under the “sports” banner, both under and over $35,000.

If you’d like to join in some of the judging action or have some comments about the entries you can do so on the Internet at the BCAA web site. Send your comments about the contenders for this year’s Car of the Year, along with your name and location, to cars@bcaa.com. The Car of the Year Internet fun poll results will be published the following week, along with a selection of reader comments.

 


Sports Coupe, Sedan and Convertible (under $35,000)

Acura RSX:
The Integra replacement has a new wedge-like design with a taller and more spacious passenger compartment that has been pushed forward on the chassis a little. Three trim levels are offered; RSX, RSX Premium and RSX Type S. In addition to an extra “hot” 200-hp, 2.0-litre engine, the Type S has better brakes, a front anti-roll bar, a Bose audio system and a 6-speed manual transmission.

Base Price: $31,000 As tested: $31,100
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 7.8 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 42.1 metres

Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 9.8 /7.6 city/highway


Photo: Honda/Acura
Click image to enlarge


BMW 320i: :

A legend in it’s own time, this compact rear-wheel-drive sedan has a cleaner new look with front bumpers and integrated round fog lights. The optional (HID) Xenon headlights now work on low as well as the high beams and there are revisions to manual mode on the Steptronic transmission. There are a bunch of additional (minor) changes, but devotees should relax as there’s nothing that would impinge on the spirit of the 3-series.

Base Price: $33,900 As tested: $33,900

Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 9.8 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 42.1 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.3/7.2 city/highway


 


Chrysler Sebring Convertible:

This stylish mid-sized touring-style

convertible was an early 2002 release. Although classed as a 2+2 it actually offers reasonably good seating space for the rear passengers and still has a large trunk. Other Sebring strengths are a fine blend of super-smooth ride, good road manners and a great top-down, open-air driving experience, for a remarkably low price. A new GTC version comes with a 5-speed manual transmission and a sport tuned suspension.

Base Price: $33,580 As tested: N/A$
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 9.9 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 45.7 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.9/8.1 city/highway

2002 Chrysler Sebring Convertible
Photo: DaimlerChrysler
Click image to enlarge


Hyundai Elantra GT:


This is a new and very attractive “Euro-look” hatchback version of Elantra sedan (released last year). The GT has the same powertrain, wheelbase and outside dimensions as the sedan, but comes with a sport suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes and better wheels and tires. A premium package adds (for an extra $2,000) a power sunroof, anti-lock brakes with traction control and leather upholstery – superb value!

Base Price: $18,495 As tested: $18,620
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour):9.7 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 48.5 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 9.6/6.5 city/highway

2002 Hyundai Elantra GT
Photo: Grant Yoxon
Click image to enlarge


Mercedes-Benz C-Class C-230 Coupe:


Yes, you can buy a Mercedes for under $35,000 and although a compact, it’s not a wimpy, stripped version. A gutsy supercharged (192-hp) 2.3 litre engine is linked to either a 5-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual transmission. Above the norm safety features include side-curtain air bags, a child seat recognition system, brake assist and stability control systems and the SmartKey security system. A unique panoramic sunroof option gives it an almost complete glass roof (see photo) and the opening is one-third larger than a conventional sunroof.

Base Price: $33,950 As tested: $38,560
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 8.9 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 41.1 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 12.3/7.5 city/highway

2002 Mercedes-Benz C230 Coupe
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge


Nissan Sentra SE-R:

Those auto enthusiasts who have longed for another Datsun 510 finally have a new blue-collar hero – the Sentra SE-R Spec-V. Yes, Nissan has stuffed the largest most powerful 4-cylinder it could find into a race-track prepared version of the Sentra. A six-speed manual transmission and a limited slip differential complement this potent package that’s sure to have the rally and autocross crowd riffling their piggy banks.

Base Price: $21,498 As tested: $23,998
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 8.5 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 41.1 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 10.8/7.6 city/highway

2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R
Photo: Nissan
Click image to enlarge


Subaru Impreza WRX:

A genuine rally car spin-off, with world championship credentials, the WRX topped almost all of the performance tests in this under-35 group. Its turbo-charged 2.0-litre boxer engine can produce 227-horsepower and an all-wheel-drive system, that includes a limited slip differential, sticks it to the ground.

Base Price: $34,995 As tested: $34,995
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 7.3 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 44.8 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.6/8.0 city/highway

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX
Photo: Grant Yoxon
Click image to enlarge


Sports Coupe, Sedan or Convertible over $35,000


Acura 3.2 TL Type S:

It was Car of the year when introduced in ’99 and a 2002 version gets the Type-S treatment from Acura. Engine refinements boost the 3.2-litre V6 output to 260-horsepower, a sport-tuned suspension, V-rated tires, 17-inch alloy wheels, the “VSA” a stability control system and a sportier interior with perforated-leather seats are all included in the package. The redesigned front end incorporates standard fog lights.

Base Price: $41,000 As tested: $41,000
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 7.2 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 42.7 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 12/7.4 city/highway

2002 Acura 3.2TL Type-S
Photo: Grant Yoxon
Click image to enlarge


Audi A4 3.0L:

The new body is longer, wider and 45% stiffer than the previous A4. Under the hood there’s a new north-south mounted light-weight all-aluminum 3.0 litre V6 engine (replacing the 2.8-litre). This motor can churn-out 220-horsepower and meets ultra low emissions standards. A 6-speed manual or 5-speed Tiptronic automatic coupled with either front or Quattro all-wheel drive systems complete the drivetrain choices.

Base Price: $44,495 As tested: $51,260
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 7.9 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 39.9 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.3/7.5 city/highway

2002 Audi A4 3.0
Photo: Audi
Click image to enlarge


Jaguar X-Type:

A new Jag is always an important event in the automotive world, particularly an affordable one with a base price of just $42,950 (with a 2.5-litre V6 engine). The new X-Type “Baby-Jag” comes with standard all-wheel-drive and a multitude of standard features that includes Connelly leather upholstery and bird’s eye maple trim. An easy to use touch-screen navigation system is also an option.

Base Price: $49,950 As tested: $62,995
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 8.0 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 40.2 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 13.1/8.5 city/highway

2002 jaguar X-Type
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge


Nissan Maxima SE:

One of my all-time favourite sedans, the Nissan Maxima gets a new 3.5-litre V6 engine, and a new 6-speed manual transmission also comes with the SE version. There are some styling changes too, to the front and the back, and a 4-bulb HID Xenon headlight system is also a new feature. The base GXE ($32,900) also has added equipment content, including power, heated seats and climate controlled air conditioning.

Base Price: $33,900 As tested: $33,900
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 6.7 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 43.3 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 11.2/7.7 city/highway

2002 Nissan Maxima SE
Photo: Grant Yoxon
Click image to enlarge


BMW M3 Cabriolet:

The price may be daunting but the M3 simply burned the competition in this class in every performance test we did and it’s a great looking convertible. The one-button, up and down, power soft-top is also a treat to watch in action, as it folds very neatly into a sealed compartment behind the rear seat. Although it’s 166 kg heavier than the M3 Coupe the performance numbers were almost identical.

Base Price: $83,500 As tested: $84,370
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour): 5.6 seconds
Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 38.7 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 14.9/9.4 city/highway

2002 BMW M3 Cabriolet
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge


BMW 325xi:

This is the all-wheel-drive version of the 3 Series BMW. It comes with a 2.5-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine, a slightly stiffer suspension (to deal with extra weight) and a larger cargo area with fold-down rear seats. The super smooth 184-horsepower, 2.5-litre engine incorporates the double-VANOS system which continually adjusts valve timing on both overhead camshafts, to optimize power and fuel efficiency.

Base Price: $41,100 As tested: $46,200
Acceleration (0 to 100 km/hour) 8.2 seconds

Braking (100 to 0 km/hour): 44.8 metres
Fuel Consumption (litres/100 km): 12.1/8.0 city/highway

2002 BMW 325 xi
Photo: Bob McHugh
Click image to enlarge

Connect with Autos.ca