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Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/4/17 3:37 p.m.

Or in other words, yet another 'What Car?' thread cheeky. I'll try not to be too long winded here, but I'm not always very good at the whole brevity thing, so fair warning. 

My current daily is a 96 XJ Cherokee. It's loud (M/T tires and no carpet), slow, wanders all over the road, hot/cold depending on season, leaks like a sieve when it rains, and is constantly in need of some little thing, many of which I have been deferring repair on recently which is also gonna catch up with me sooner or later. I bought the XJ as a winter beater/backup DD back when I had my 4th gen Camaro as a primary daily and it was great in that role. Since being forced into full time DD duties after the Crammit was wrecked last year, I've kinda grown to hate it for my current use. Time to make a change. 

My thinking up until recently has been to replace the XJ with some kind of bigger truck or SUV that could also handle tow pig duties, but I've recently changed my tune on that. If all my towing needs amount to for now are pulling the RX7 to a couple track days a year or dragging home a project every once in a while, it's kinda silly to daily a pig when I can borrow a truck from my parents and rent a trailer when the need arises. I've also come to the revelation that what bothers me more than anything about the Jeep is that I just don't enjoy driving it at all anymore, there's just no fun in the routine trips to the store and I actively dread longer highway jaunts. 

 

So here's what I'm looking for:

-Newish - say <60k mi give or take, depending on the vehicle, or maybe even brand new (gasp!) 

-Cheapish - $10-20K range seems to be the sweet spot, could stretch that to ~$25k if buying new. Looking at a car payment either way, so just a question of whether I go 36, 48, or 60 months on the loan term. 

-Fun enough that I look forward to even the mundane driving chores again and keeps my attention engaged for at least a few years. 

-Reliable - don't want to have to wrench on the DD too much

-Practical enough that I can live with it every day and not have the car wear on me over time. 

-Room for the dog. I've got an ~80 pound lab/australian shepherd mix that gets dropped off with my mom every day while I'm at work and he needs a place to ride that won't get messed up too easily. Cloth interior would be a big plus for durability too. 

 

No immediate plans to track or auto x this car, aside from maybe just filling in for the RX7 in a pinch, so I'm not overly concerned with things like classing or how track ready it is out of the box. Some bolt on mods might be in the cards, so decent aftermarket and the ability to make a little extra power without going too crazy would be nice. RWD or AWD is definitely a preference, but FWD will be considered as well because that would rule out too many good options. This will be a four season car, and I've got a few hills on my 30 mile commute that get nasty in the snow, so winter driving is a consideration, but nothing a good set of snow tires shouldn't be able to handle. Absolutely must be manual, no exceptions. 

Here's what's on my short list so far:

-FoST - Test drove one on Saturday and liked it. Base model without the Recaros, sunroof, or fancy infotainment system, which is a plus in my book. Plenty quick, fun to fling around, steering/shifter/clutch all felt decent to me. Useable back seats are nice and it's got plenty of cargo room with the seats folded flat. Hatchback/wagon is a definite plus in my book. Ford has some really good deals on leftover '17s now too, dealer wants just a hair over $21k for the car I drove. Doesn't seem to have any major reliability issues that I've heard of yet and I gather there's a fair bit more power that is easily unlocked. 

-FiST - Consensus seems to be the little brother is the more entertaining of the Ford hatches, but I wonder if the Focus wouldn't maybe suit me better. FiST might be a touch too small (think I saw cargo space with the rear  seats folded is equivalent to the Focus with the seats up, which is a bit shocking). 

-Mazdaspeed 3 - Never driven a Speed3, but I've driven a few regular 3s of both the first and second generation and liked them a lot. Mechanical LSD is a big plus over the FoST, but seems to have less room to grow in terms of power, plus a little older and more crude. Seems to have reliability concerns and due to being out of production I'd be looking at used with a high likelihood of having been abused. 

-WRX - Wanted one ever since they first came to the States, before I even had my license. Turbo + AWD is a huge plus. New ones are pushing the budget and lack the hatchback option, while used examples carry a premium and likelihood of abuse by PO, though I like the '11-14 hatches with the wide body a lot. EJ25 has definite reliability concerns, though GRM seems to carry a stronger anti-Subaru bias than I've witnessed elsewhere.  

-FRS/BRZ/86 - Had my eye on these ever since they came out and they tick a lot of boxes in the fun column for me. Lacks people/cargo/dog space vs the above, though. Used examples are getting pretty reasonable and seem easier to find in clean, un-modded condition vs the boost buggies. 

-GTI - Just kinda throwing this one out there. I've got pretty strong anti-VW bias and the thought of buying used and out of warranty scares me, a lot. 

-Civic Si - Latest gen seems a little lukewarm to me, TBH. And they're ass ugly. 

 

Leaning against the following:

-Pony cars - BTDT with the Camaro, just feeling something different right now, I think. 

-Mini - Reliability concerns

-Answer - Just not enough space

 

Very much open to suggestions as well, looking to drive a good sampling of options before making my decision. I'd love to hear ownership experiences for any and all of the above, especially from those of you that may have owned multiple of these cars - how was the reliability, what did you love about them, what wore on you over time, ect. 

Thanks all!

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/4/17 3:39 p.m.

FoST seems like the winner to me. 

And I owned a '10 Speed 3, and currently own a 2015 BRZ.

CobraSpdRH
CobraSpdRH Reader
12/4/17 4:07 p.m.

Infiniti G37 4 door with a manual? Haven't driven one but I've seen them recommended here quite a bit. Also, maybe an older Acura TL Type-S with a manual? Smooth J-series motor and pretty fun to drive.

I'm in a similar situation and want to drive the 5th Gen (?) Si, last of the NA VTEC cars. Finding them cheap with the new turbo ones out, and a Hondata tune wakes them up. Would definitely want to compare it against a FoST though, they seem like a great option for the $.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider SuperDork
12/4/17 4:21 p.m.

The G is Reliable but it is at the end of the day a big sedan. Not really a lot of fun. 

 

I would look at GTI or FoST personally. The BRZ and FiST will have a hard time with dog duties. 

 

WRX are way overpriced for what they are. I also think Subaru is crap as far as reliability even with stock tune. My Forester was the only car I had to rewrite the ECU code to be able to pass emissions because a $450 emissions valve failed regularly. 

Bobcougarzillameister
Bobcougarzillameister MegaDork
12/4/17 4:27 p.m.

at that money I'd be looking at Forte5 SX. 

alleykat
alleykat Reader
12/4/17 4:30 p.m.

I just purchased a 2006 E90 330i m/t. Plenty quick, nice DD. Comfortable, quiet, decent mileage. I paid $10k for a very well maintained example with 100k mi. 335i can be had for a few grand more. E90 M3's are available around here for well under $30k.

FRS/BRZ would be the cheapest to maintain. I drove one and was underwhelmed. My 1.8 swapped 90 MX-5 felt faster.

I don't consider Cadillac to be a muscle car. The ATS 2.0 comes in a manual. An older CTS-V might be worth a look. 

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/4/17 8:27 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

FoST is hard to beat on paper and I did enjoy driving it. What's the scoop on the Ford Racing tune thats supposedly covered under warranty?

MS3 just doesn't seem better than the Ford in any obvious way, other than the LSD, but I'm curious to hear about your experience and how it compares with the BRZ. 

markwemple
markwemple UberDork
12/4/17 8:35 p.m.

I'm between the BRZ and the GTI. Depends upon what driving dynamic you're looking for. A caymen isn't too far out of your range and is a great possible choice.

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/4/17 9:01 p.m.

G37 is worth a thought. I'll have to do some more research, never paid much attention to them. Are the back seats inhabitable in the coupes?

TL doesn't do it for me.

Loved my e36, but the e9x and newer Bimmers worry me a bit. I still keep an eye out on Craigslist for them sometimes. I think I might be looking for something a touch more raw than a sport sedan, though, which goes for the Infinity as well.

ATS I don't know much about, but thought I had heard they were problematic. 

Kinda hate the looks of the previous gen Civic, but a friend had an 08 or so SI that was a blast. 

Frisbee twins are really borderline on practicality and the dog would pretty much have to ride up front, I would think. I could make it work if I liked it well enough.

EDT
EDT New Reader
12/4/17 9:11 p.m.

Way out there from what you're currently looking at, but E55/CLS55 AMGs and the 04-09 XJR are getting to be in the 10k range (less for the Jag). I'm currently being tempted there. 

dj06482
dj06482 SuperDork
12/4/17 9:16 p.m.

The 2.0T in the Cadillac ATS is underwhelming - good power but it's very boring.  Unfortunately the 3.6 isn't available with the manual.  The 2.0T/6spd is also only available in RWD.

The ATS has a fantastic chassis and brakes, though.

G_Body_Man
G_Body_Man UltraDork
12/4/17 9:49 p.m.
Furious_E said:

G37 is worth a thought. I'll have to do some more research, never paid much attention to them. Are the back seats inhabitable in the coupes?

 

You can fit real people back there for short trips, but headroom is tight. The sedans were also available in RWD 6MT form. Once you switch VDC off, they're noticeably less "soft" than a 335i. Nothing goes wrong on them, either.

yupididit
yupididit SuperDork
12/5/17 1:50 a.m.

A nice clean 996 cool

Klayfish
Klayfish PowerDork
12/5/17 5:43 a.m.
Furious_E said:

In reply to z31maniac :

FoST is hard to beat on paper and I did enjoy driving it. What's the scoop on the Ford Racing tune thats supposedly covered under warranty?

MS3 just doesn't seem better than the Ford in any obvious way, other than the LSD, but I'm curious to hear about your experience and how it compares with the BRZ. 

I had a FoST with the Ford Racing tune.  Mine was the ST3, fully loaded...I liked the Recaros, sunroof, heated seats, etc...though the Ford TouchMyself system blew chunks....I've heard the newer one is better.  It was very much a love/hate relationship with that car.  Razor sharp steering, great suspension.  With the tune, it was pretty quick, it made a ton of torque.  I've owned some really fast cars over the years, so even with the tune, I wouldn't call it super fast, but it was quick enough.  The negatives...it torque steered like a bastard.  Nail the throttle and hold the wheel tight, because it'll go whichever way it feels like.  The boost was a jekyl and hyde thing.  The car was wonderful when you were on boost, but sometimes (never did figure out when/how/why) you'd catch it off boost, and the engine would just fall flat on its' face....had the acceleration of a base Focus sedan.  Had the turning radius of a Hummer H1.  Small fuel tank, which was a big problem for me, as I drive a lot.  All those flaws were ones you could deal with, but the one that drove me nuts was its' personality.  I know, I know, it's just a machine, but you know what I mean when I say "personality".  My wife drove it several times and called it a "squirrel on caffeine", and I think that sums it up perfectly.  That's great when you feel like having fun, but if you're tired and have to slog through traffic, it wears on you fast.

Darn shame too, because I'm only a few months away from shopping for my next car.  So many things I loved about the FoST, but don't know I want to deal with it in traffic again...and pathetic fuel range.

nocones
nocones UltraDork
12/5/17 5:46 a.m.

Hyundai Elantra GT Sport is worth a look.  I test drove one back to back with a 10k more expensive GTI Autobahn.  The Elantra really is 95% of a GTI for less Money without VW reliability/maintenance costs 

 

Also the Civic SI or hatchback sport are suprisingly good. Loads of space and utility and the the turbo motors make them drove really nice.  

Rramirez
Rramirez New Reader
12/5/17 7:24 a.m.

I have had my Fost since 2013 and it has 90k miles on it.  I have absolutely enjoyed it and it has served its purpose well for my wife and I.  We have two dogs in the 40ish pound size that travel with us often.  There is plenty of space and comfort.  I can't speak to the ford racing tune as I have kept this car stock except a short throw shifter but the factory tune and drivability is great.  Over the life of the car I have averaged 27 mpg without much effort for efficiency.  I have a company truck now so my wife has been DDing the Fost for the last two years and even she loves it (prior to the Fost she didn't drive manual cars).  I have thought on several occasions what I would replace it with if something happened to it and I always come back to another Fost.  For the purpose it serves as a DD and travel car I just can't imagine a car that is more fun to drive and practical for the price.  It has been to a few autocrosses and track days as well and it has done everything I have asked it to.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
12/5/17 7:34 a.m.
Furious_E said:

In reply to z31maniac :

FoST is hard to beat on paper and I did enjoy driving it. What's the scoop on the Ford Racing tune thats supposedly covered under warranty?

MS3 just doesn't seem better than the Ford in any obvious way, other than the LSD, but I'm curious to hear about your experience and how it compares with the BRZ. 

 

MS3 was fun, plenty of space (for me), and qas quick enough to have fun and get yourself in trouble. However, it had a hard time putting power in 1st and 2nd gear once the turbo got going. Torque steer wasn't an option, it was the only way if you planted your foot............and even on smooth pavement it was a handful. 3rd/4th on the highway, to me, is where the car really shined as far as the engine. 

BRZ, it's a fun car to drive, but the tq dip around 4500rpms can get annoying around town. But it's quick enough if you keep the engine on boil. Not much space though. Your dog would probably fit in the back with the back seats laid down. 

I was considering a Focus RS to get some more space back, but the girlfriend has a '15 Honda Fit, so I don't really "need" a more practical car at the moment.

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/5/17 8:25 a.m.
Klayfish said:
Furious_E said:

In reply to z31maniac :

FoST is hard to beat on paper and I did enjoy driving it. What's the scoop on the Ford Racing tune thats supposedly covered under warranty?

MS3 just doesn't seem better than the Ford in any obvious way, other than the LSD, but I'm curious to hear about your experience and how it compares with the BRZ. 

I had a FoST with the Ford Racing tune.  Mine was the ST3, fully loaded...I liked the Recaros, sunroof, heated seats, etc...though the Ford TouchMyself system blew chunks....I've heard the newer one is better.  It was very much a love/hate relationship with that car.  Razor sharp steering, great suspension.  With the tune, it was pretty quick, it made a ton of torque.  I've owned some really fast cars over the years, so even with the tune, I wouldn't call it super fast, but it was quick enough.  The negatives...it torque steered like a bastard.  Nail the throttle and hold the wheel tight, because it'll go whichever way it feels like.  The boost was a jekyl and hyde thing.  The car was wonderful when you were on boost, but sometimes (never did figure out when/how/why) you'd catch it off boost, and the engine would just fall flat on its' face....had the acceleration of a base Focus sedan.  Had the turning radius of a Hummer H1.  Small fuel tank, which was a big problem for me, as I drive a lot.  All those flaws were ones you could deal with, but the one that drove me nuts was its' personality.  I know, I know, it's just a machine, but you know what I mean when I say "personality".  My wife drove it several times and called it a "squirrel on caffeine", and I think that sums it up perfectly.  That's great when you feel like having fun, but if you're tired and have to slog through traffic, it wears on you fast.

Darn shame too, because I'm only a few months away from shopping for my next car.  So many things I loved about the FoST, but don't know I want to deal with it in traffic again...and pathetic fuel range.

Excellent info there, thanks!

Let me ask you this: If your usage involved significantly less highway driving, would that make you reconsider the car? My commute is about 60 miles round trip, all on 2 lane back roads. I would say highway driving overall probably accounts for less than 10% of my total miles driven in a year. Gotta be honest, "squirrel on caffeine" does not sound entirely unappealing to me!

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/5/17 9:00 a.m.
G_Body_Man said:
Furious_E said:

G37 is worth a thought. I'll have to do some more research, never paid much attention to them. Are the back seats inhabitable in the coupes?

 

You can fit real people back there for short trips, but headroom is tight. The sedans were also available in RWD 6MT form. Once you switch VDC off, they're noticeably less "soft" than a 335i. Nothing goes wrong on them, either.

Didn't you recently pick one up? Care to give a quick review, or link me elsewhere if you've already done one? The coupes seem to be easier to find with a stick, in my quick perusal of Craigslist, and are a bit sexier to my eye. I'd consider either, even if the sedan is more practical. Need to do more research on this option.

Furious_E
Furious_E SuperDork
12/5/17 9:07 a.m.

In reply to EDT :

I like the off the wall suggestions, but these are out due to being auto only. Potential of expensive repairs is also off-putting (which goes for the 996 as well.)

 

CobraSpdRH
CobraSpdRH Reader
12/5/17 10:10 a.m.

You also mentioned aftermarket and bolt-ons, so I can just leave this here as well:

Kraftwerks supercharged Civic Si

341 hp conservatively tuned

Driven5
Driven5 SuperDork
12/5/17 10:54 a.m.
dj06482 said:

The 2.0T in the Cadillac ATS is underwhelming - good power but it's very boring. 

The 260 torque (13-14) version or the 295 torque (15-16) version?  The latter is supposed to add noticeable snap, but if it's still a boring delivery then that doesn't bode well for the former version either.  As with most turbo things, a simple tune is supposed to wake them up a bit too. 

And I wonder how this realistically compares to all the other similar low-end torque biased turbo fours, that are so popular these days, with modest redlines and power falling off up top.

FSP_ZX2
FSP_ZX2 Dork
12/5/17 11:06 a.m.

Elantra Sport sedan or Elantra GT Sport hatch.  Either should be under 20K after incentives and discounts--though the sedan will be less.  Huge levels of standard equipment, great seats and interior, 5/60 B2B-5/100 Powertrain warranty, and a genuinely fun driving experience with the 201 hp/195 TQ 1.6 turbo and 6 speed manual.

 

I got a sedan in may of 2017 for well under $18K.  I have 10K miles on it now and have enjoyed this car more than anything else I've owned (I've been driving since 1986--so the list is long).

Driven5
Driven5 SuperDork
12/5/17 11:13 a.m.
Furious_E said:

ATS I don't know much about, but thought I had heard they were problematic. 

In what way(s)?  I have been moderately interested in these lately and haven't seen anything frightening in my searches yet.

Bobcougarzillameister
Bobcougarzillameister MegaDork
12/5/17 11:18 a.m.

In reply to FSP_ZX2 :

And the stock exhaust note is pretty awesome to be honest. I saw one on Sunday. 

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