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2012 Compact performance car track comparison test

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Extremely popular in some European countries, and gaining plenty of steam in North America, track time is by far the best way to stretch your car's legs. By the same token you, as the driver, get to burn through some of that pent-up angry energy from negotiating traffic-laden roads day in day out.

The most important element to guarantee a good time on the track is a well prepared car. This is the limiting factor for the vast majority of those who have ever thought about tracking their car. A number of manufacturers have offered cars designed for performance driving, but they were too often compromised products, destined for only one use.

The recent past has been generous with the likes of the Subaru STI and Mitsubishi Lancer EVO, but for many, forking $45k+ for a car can be a difficult sell, never mind reaching deeper down in the pocket for a [link artid="55154">Porsche Cayman[/link] or Lotus Exige. Save possibly for the Lotus, all of these cars are more than tolerable on a daily basis, hence the attraction.

 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec2012 Mazda MX-5 SV
2013 Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru BRZ Sport-Tech
2012 VW Golf GTI 5-door
Base Price*$28,799$33,995$25,990$29,295$30,375
Price as tested*$28,799$33,995$26,505$29,295$37,585
*prices exclude sales taxes, A/C tax as well as freight and delivery charges.

The coming of new players, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, has infused hope and smiles onto the faces of driving enthusiasts on a sub-$30k budget for a new car.

At one point, not so long ago, we feared that the end was near for the affordable compact performance sports car. Our worries have since been abated, and so with little delay following the arrival of the Subayota twins on the press fleets, we put them and a few of their like-minded competitors to the test.

Along with the 2013 Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, we brought a 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec, 2012 Mazda MX-5 SV and a 2012 Volkswagen GTI for a day of track tests and lapping fun at Autodrôme St-Eustache (ASE).

Our findings demonstrate the levels of performance achieved by these cars. We checked and rechecked our results as unanimity was impossible to achieve. Some cars were easy to position, however, the majority required debate after debate.

Our track-test ranking is as follows: