Winner: BMW M2
With few specific performance brands sold in Ireland (there are no dealers south of the border for Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini, for example), it’s up to the mainstream manufacturers to compete for our Performance gong. BMW’s M cars always go down well with our jurors and enthusiasts, alike, and this year the new M2 Coupé took their fancy.
Not everyone loves the chunky all-square stance of the 2 Series-based model, but there’s an awful lot to like about how it drives. The M2 is effectively a shrunken BMW M4, which makes it even more usable on Ireland’s small back roads. It’s not much of a junior however, as it has all the same chassis hardware as its bigger siblings, along with a sonorous twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine putting out 460hp. And as if anyone buying one cares, there’s room in the back seats for two people and a decent boot as well. Get it now before it’s legislated out of existence.
Audi RS 3
If you like your high-performance kick served up with a side dish of practicality, you could do worse than choose the Audi RS 3. It’s perhaps not quite as dynamically sharp nor as engaging as the M2, but its turbocharged five-cylinder engine is remarkable and it pairs that with a variable all-wheel-drive system to cope with even the worst of Irish winters. Choose from five-door hatchback or, the one we’d have, a four-door saloon.
Audi e-tron GT
Sharing its platform with the Porsche Taycan, the e-tron GT manages to play the roles of long-distance GT and high-performance (four-door) coupé with consummate ease. No, it’s not as involving as the other traditional sportsters mentioned here, but with up to 645hp in Boost mode and a sophisticated chassis, it manages to hold its own. Oh, and it’ll go up to 472 kilometres without emitting any burned fossil fuel fumes, too.