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By definition, performance cars are those that deliver top-quality performance in terms of on-road behavior, value for money proposition as well as design and looks. It is a different matter that automotive aficionados may look for specific elements within a vehicle and use their experience or feedback on them to rate a vehicle.

All said and done, though a car may just be a metal machine to most people, too many others, it represents a marvelous piece of engineering that requires an understanding that extends beyond the engine roar and the rush of adrenaline associated with high-performance cars.

However, there are some questions that do crop up in the minds of the ignorant about performance cars. Questions such as what exactly are these performance cars, and how are they graded? What are the parameters they are judged upon? And so on. This post is an attempt to answer them.

Every year, the most popular Australian cars are put through the rigors of road testing and stringent analysis under vehicle testing as well as an award program that is conducted by the Australian Automobile Association.

This has been a process that has been in place since 2000, and the purpose behind it is to take out the guesswork (as well as legwork) for serious car aficionados looking for the best performance cars in the Australian market.

The collated information is then shared with the public through several sources in the form of reviews, as well as scores that have been compiled for the 300 odd cars under the study program. This information is excellent for those wanting to compare brands, different models, before deciding to buy that new high-performance car for them.

The program covers vehicles in the light, small, medium, large, sports, SUV and all-terrain categories and thus represents a very concise and comprehensive effort in educating people about vehicles spread across the spectrum of interest.

The scoring process has an objective to determine the winner in each category, and the judging panel itself comprises ten representatives having experience and backgrounds in motoring advisory services, engineering, and road testing of vehicles.

Essentially, the judges consider three main areas for their evaluation – value for money, road performance, and design. They have identified eight criteria under each of these areas that they score between 1 and 10 for each of the vehicles. That is how they come out with the top score for a vehicle in a specific category. Note that the score of a particular vehicle is reflective of its status only within the category it belongs to.

So there you have it. The above process has been undergoing refinement over the last ten years. It is now thought to be excellent in determining which of the popular cars qualify to be performance cars in their specific categories.