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ekauppi7
ekauppi7 New Reader
2/6/17 11:19 p.m.

The short version: - fun to drive - manual trans - at least a little rear seat and stowage - decent mileage, ease of repair, reliability - prefer rear drive and light weight - $5k-10k cash, or up to maybe $25k with loan.

What to buy?

  • BRZ/FRS/86 looks like a front runner on paper. Have they been reliable? There are some unhappy people on the 86 forums.
  • Mustang? Which engine? Infiniti G35? WRX? Would I be happy with a FWD Mazda3 or GTI?

And a little more detail for those who want it: I've thought about the BMWs (love a straight six) and the CTS-V. But I've come to realize that for me what makes me smile is how the car feels, not how others look at me. And lighter is better. And I have a diesel van for when I need to tow or carry stuff.

I grew up driving and fixing Fiat 124s and X1/9s, there was a Lancia then an MR2 in my garage, now there is a Lotus Europa, not running of course. So you can tell I think it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. And when I want to drive a really fast vehicle slow (or fast) there are several bikes in my garage that are faster than any car I am likely to own.

I've been driving Volvo wagons for the last 16 years. Now my son has his own Volvo, we're about done with carpooling, we have a diesel for towing things... It's time for me to get a fun car again. But which one?

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
2/6/17 11:53 p.m.

Mazdaspeed 3

Or perhaps a Volvo C30?

Focus SVT?

BMW 3-Series still drives well from what I understand and can still be DIY friendly.

I'm not sure if the Infiniti will be fun to drive or not.

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
2/7/17 6:12 a.m.

Light weight I guess is a relative term. With few exceptions, modern cars aren't light. The G35/37 is a heavy car, so is the Mustang, etc...

You could shave a few pounds off the 3 series weight by getting a 1 series.

Obvious answer if you like slow-car-fast thing is Miata, though it has no back seat.

I'm not as into the "slow car fast" vs "fast car slow" thing. I just don't understand why it can't be "drive a fast car fast", especially when it comes to driving on regular roadways. It's not like you're going to do 120mph in the slow car and "only" 100mph in the fast car...at least I certainly hope not. That's what race tracks are for. On public roads you're going to go the same "top speed", say 80mph on the highway. That's true if you're in a slow car or fast car. I prefer a car that can get me to that 80mph top speed quicker. I have a Miata, so it's not like I hate slower cars...but if money were not an issue, I'd get the fast car.

If back seat is a must, with my preferences, I'm going G35/37, Mustang, Genesis Coupe (V6) type.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
2/7/17 7:12 a.m.

A $2000 Miata and a $2000 basic focus.

Done.

Really- look at your requirements closely- are you really going to use the rear seat, how long, for what? Would you enjoy a car better if you just got two for the times you need 4 seats or the space?

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/7/17 7:25 a.m.

The answer is Fiesta ST. I'm sorry, but if a Miata won't do then you want a Fiesta ST. At your budget, you can easily afford to purchase it, maintain it, operate it and even add to it. It has the practicality of a back seat and a hatch, so you can live with it every day. At 2750 pounds, it is the lightest car you can buy today (save for a Miata) and it is small enough to park easily and dart through traffic in. As for fun, you'd be hard pressed to find anything more fun to drive on a daily basis. It puts a smile on your face every time you get behind the wheel, whether it's to the track, the autocross or to the corner store for milk.

Yes, it's FWD...get over it. It rotates well, transitions well and puts power down well. It will easily outrun a stock BRZ, and more performance is always just a tune away. (In fact, your Ford dealer will do it and your warranty will be just fine.) RWD is great, but can you get something new in RWD that performs this well for $21K? Nope.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
2/7/17 7:40 a.m.

I thought the new Mazda 3 with the 2.5 was more fun to drive than many performance models offered by competitors. The old Speed3 is an interesting car in its own right but I see 19MPG on premium as unacceptable from a hatchback in 2017.

NC MX-5s with the power hardtop are creeping towards $10k if you can lose the rear seat requirement. That's an option that repeatedly tempts me...

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
2/7/17 7:53 a.m.

$5-10k used, manual, RWD, more awesome than anything listed in this thread so far by about infinity. Won't depreciate.

E46 M3, $9999

Opti
Opti HalfDork
2/7/17 8:05 a.m.

LT1 C4 with 6speed. Rear seats be damned

penultimeta
penultimeta Reader
2/7/17 8:06 a.m.

I think 5k buys you way different cars than 10k which is still different from 25k+loan. For 10k, I'd look at NC Miatae, 350z/g35 (by me, g35s actually are slightly cheaper and in better condition than their 350z counterparts), LS1 camarobird if your inklings lean muscular or even the 04-06 GTO, speed3 and speed6 are here (I actually preferred the speed6 when I test drove them side by side, but that was a while ago), and lastly an impeccable e46 330ci or poor condition e46 m3.

For 5k, I'd look at the best NA8 Miata or average condition NB, a rattier e46 330ci or decent 325ci, or a mediocre e36 M3. Other contenders would be SVT Focus or normal Focus with suspension and turbo if you're feeling peckish and optimistic, ep3 civic or RSX type S, a very nice celica GTS and I think MR2 Spyders with bad paint and worn interiors are getting into this range.

25k+loan opens up a whole different range. Lightly used mustangs are here, FRizbee twins as you suggest, lightly used Focus ST or brand-spanking new Fiesta ST. I mean, really, any non-German enthusiast oriented car made within the past 2-4 years will fall here.

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing Dork
2/7/17 8:11 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

Actually, the Honda Fit has a lighter curb weight listed from 2513 to 2642 depending on the model and transmission.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy PowerDork
2/7/17 10:11 a.m.

You want my 2011, $5000, 151,000 mile, 5-speed manual, Honda Accord LX Sedan.

jstein77
jstein77 UltraDork
2/7/17 10:22 a.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

You know, I owned a FiST for six months, and I would agree with you except for one thing. Even on the street, the lack of a limited slip drove me nuts. Wheelspin would trigger the stability control to cut power, killing cornering speed. And autocrossing it was frustrating for the same reason, as there were many runs I exited from muttering, "I HATE open differentials." If I were to own it any longer, that would have been my first aftermarket modification.

t25torx
t25torx Dork
2/7/17 10:37 a.m.
penultimeta wrote: a very nice celica GTS

This, right here. It's one of the lightest newish production cars in the used market. Okay, okay, so it's not RWD. But I really enjoyed the one that I restored a few years back. It is way up there in the fun to drive category.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago SuperDork
2/7/17 11:14 a.m.

C6 Corvette? Can be had for high teens and should be a pretty fun ride.

lnlds
lnlds Reader
2/7/17 11:18 a.m.

330i ZHP

OldGray320i
OldGray320i HalfDork
2/7/17 11:34 a.m.

If your loan amount is $25K, I think I'd agree with BRZ/FRS or Fiesta ST - both clock in at 2700lbs (as I recall...). In the lower budget range, not too much will be LIGHT and fun (and as mentioned, modernity standards of lightness are on the heavier side...).

I've driven a BRZ (incredible chassis, as I recall, but power delivery feels like Camry...), and a year or two ago at autocrosses, there were a couple of FiST's that would routinely run at the top of the pack (and the twins are generally pretty quick as well).

Depends on how often those "other seats" will be used and by whom.

The0retical
The0retical Dork
2/7/17 12:11 p.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: I thought the new Mazda 3 with the 2.5 was more fun to drive than many performance models offered by competitors. The old Speed3 is an interesting car in its own right but I see 19MPG on premium as unacceptable from a hatchback in 2017. NC MX-5s with the power hardtop are creeping towards $10k if you can lose the rear seat requirement. That's an option that repeatedly tempts me...

19 mpg? Jeeze I see 23-25mpg in mixed driving conditions over a 20 mile a direction commute and mine has been worked over pretty heavily. Pre-turbo swap I'd see 33 mpg on the highway going from San Diego to Victorville and back and 27 in mixed conditions over a 35 mile a direction commute into the desert. The car entertains me to no end and I'm happy I ended up with it over the FRS I drove just before it. It's not light or RWD though so in this situation it probably doesn't apply.

How big do the back seats need to be? The FRS/BRZ they're more of a suggestion for insurance than getting an adult in them. They're fun to drive, easy to work on and well supported by the aftermarket.

The nicest RX-8 you can buy maybe?

KyAllroad
KyAllroad UberDork
2/7/17 1:00 p.m.

You're in Michigan. That means a long season of E36 M3ty roads, lots of road salt, cold. I'd forego the "light" part of the equation a bit and get something comfortable, European, AWD. The RWD is nice through the summer but if you have to baby it around all winter it gets old.

How about the nicest S4 you can find for $8,000 plus an aftermarket warrantee. V-8 noises, nice interior, stick shift, and if some soccer mom in an SUV and a texting habit plows into you....a better place to be than something flyweight.

Lugnut
Lugnut Dork
2/7/17 1:07 p.m.

In reply to pinchvalve:

The '16 Abarth 500 comes in at 2,512lbs.

I completed adored mine, BTW, so put that on the list to be considered!

skierd
skierd SuperDork
2/7/17 1:33 p.m.

Get a Mustang. Previous body style 5.0. Add an intake and a tune for power, axle backs for sweet American V8 music, and better shocks. Hell even the 2011+ V6 versions are fun with the same additions and will save you money while still giving you 300+whp and tq.

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
2/7/17 1:36 p.m.

On the title of my '13 Fiesta SE the weight listed is 2491 lbs. Other places say something over 2500.

Anyway, with a rear bar the handling is great. I love to drive it.

The traction control helps with the inside wheel spin.

Last Sunday I got a chance to play around on the ice race track before the races. Neither the TC or SC were a factor. I deliberately made them activate. No big deal.

Anyway, the non ST is something to look at and deals right now are abundant.

Oh yes, my gas mileage runs both sides of 38mpg.

Driven5
Driven5 Dork
2/7/17 1:46 p.m.
Klayfish wrote: I'm not as into the "slow car fast" vs "fast car slow" thing. I just don't understand why it can't be "drive a fast car fast", especially when it comes to driving on regular roadways. It's not like you're going to do 120mph in the slow car and "only" 100mph in the fast car...at least I certainly hope not. That's what race tracks are for. On public roads you're going to go the same "top speed", say 80mph on the highway. That's true if you're in a slow car or fast car.

'Fast' and 'slow' are being used as the perception of speed relative to the vehicles capabilities, not the actual speed.

.

KyAllroad wrote: You're in Michigan...The RWD is nice through the summer but if you have to baby it around all winter it gets old.

I don't know exactly how Michigan compares to NE Wisconsin, but I have rarely had more fun on public roads than winter daily driving my Miata on snow tires.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/7/17 1:50 p.m.
jimbob_racing wrote: In reply to pinchvalve: Actually, the Honda Fit has a lighter curb weight listed from 2513 to 2642 depending on the model and transmission.

That's not a car, it's a Tardis in disguise.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/7/17 1:52 p.m.
Lugnut wrote: In reply to pinchvalve: The '16 Abarth 500 comes in at 2,512lbs. I completed adored mine, BTW, so put that on the list to be considered!

But you can't put the windows up in an Abarth. ( I mean, you CAN, but with that exhaust note, why would you?)

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
2/7/17 1:54 p.m.

And you can get a Mitsu Colt down to 2018 lbs., so forget what I said. I must have been drinking when I remembered that.

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