If you’re a real revhead, you’d be crazy not to buy a Proton S16 GX. Let me explain…
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Most of us are familiar with the power-to-weight ratio measurement, which takes a car’s power output (kilowatts) and divides it by the vehicle’s mass (kg or tonnes). The high-performance, lightweight supercars – like the Ferrari 458 Italia and the Lamborghini Gallardo – generally do pretty well here, and leave everyday runabouts in their wake.

But what if you want the most bang for your buck? The most kilowatts per dollar? The results are practically turned on their head, and are rather surprising.

Here’s the list of the top 10 passenger vehicles in Australia at the moment from a price-to-power perspective:

MakeModelBestPower (kW)Price ($)Price-to-Power ratio ($ per kW)
ProtonS16GX M58212,990158
KiaCeratoS M511518,990165
FordFalconXR8 M629048,390167
HoldenCommodoreSS sedan M627047,790177
SuzukiSX4Hatch M611220,490183
Hyundaii45Active M614827,990189
NissanTiidaST hatch M69317,990193
MitsubishiLancerES sedan M511321,990195

Includes only the best model from each make, and does not include utes. Note: M5= five-speed manual transmission.

At $158 per kW, the Proton S16 GX five-speed manual is the best bang for your buck passenger vehicle in the land, marginally ahead of the manual Kia Cerato S sedan.

The XR8 and SS – despite having around three-and-a-half times more power than the S16 – manage just third and fourth respectively due to their premium price. In Ute form however, with the same power output but a heavily reduced price, the locals come out well on top (as shown in Table 2).

The following table lists the top 25 sellers in Australia in 2010, ranked according to their price-to-power ratio:

MakeModelBestPower (kW)Price ($)Price-to-Power ratio ($ per kW)
FordFalconXR8 M6 (Ute)29048,390 (41,490)167 (143)
HoldenCommodoreSS M6 (Ute)27047,790 (42,490)177 (157)
FordFiestaCL 3dr M58816,090183
Hyundaii302.0 SX M510520,390194
MitsubishiLancerES sedan M511321,990195
HoldenBarina3dr M57614,790195
HyundaiGetzSX 3dr M57815,340197
MazdaMazda3Neo sedan M510821,330198
FordFocusCL hatch M510721,490201
HoldenCruze1.8 petrol CD M510420,990202
ToyotaKlugerKX-R 2WD20140,990204
SubaruImprezaWRX hatch M519539,990205
ToyotaCorollaAscent sedan M610020,990210
FordTerritoryTX RWD19039,890210
ToyotaYarisYRS 3dr M58017,340217
MazdaMazda2Neo M57616,500217
HondaCivicVTi sedan M510322,490218
HoldenCaptiva7 SX V616938,490228
SubaruForesterXT M516939,490234
VolkswagenGolf118 TSI M611829,490250
ToyotaCamryAltise M511730,490261
ToyotaPradoGXL V6 M620260,904302

The top 25 sellers for 2010 between January and October (excluding Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara and Holden Colorado).

At the other end of the spectrum, the numbers are far less impressive.

The Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 SV E-gear is Australia’s most powerful car. At 493kW, the Italian wears the premium price tag of $889,000. Its price-to-power ratio? $1800 per kW.

Australia’s most expensive car –the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe – costs $1.35 million and packs 338kW from its 6.7-litre V12 engine. In price-to-power terms, $4000 per kW.

And the world’s fastest production car – the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – with its 883kW and $2.635 million price tag? Price-to-power ratio: the best part of $3000 per kW. A bargain compared to the Roller, really.

So the next time you laugh at (or pity) a person driving a Proton S16 GX five-speed manual, just stop and think. They may be more of a red-blooded power enthusiast than you think.