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Fun, good acceleration and handling, relatively quiet when cruising, reliable in compact or smaller mid size automobile

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

psundell

New or used is okay. New priced up to low 30s, or late model used, mid 20s. I am a single person so I do not need an extremely practical car but I do want one that is functional in rain and snow. I plan on owning one car. My current car is a 2003 Honda Accord EXL six cylinder, six speed manual, leather that I bought new and have enjoyed very much. I do not like the new Accord, as much: car is larger and heavier, does not handle as well (especially with the heavy six cylinder), and in some cases less reliable. Color and trim choices are very limited for the manual, especially in the four cylinder.

The 2015 golf gti will be out at dealers in June but the performance package will not show up until sometime in the second half of 2014. The interesting item to me is the limited slip differential in the performance package. The performance package raises the 2.0 turbo horse power to 220 while the electronically governed limited slip raises the handling quotient a lot according to early reviews. Depending upon source, Volkswagen reliability is often rated well below average.The more I read about VW reliability and their less than average reputation for standing behind their cars, the less enthusiastic I am about a VW.

I have test driven the Subaru WRX, very good power and handling, odd exterior look, and pretty noisy.I have test drove the Mazda 3. Nice all around car, good handling nice interior, fairly quick, very good gas mileage and expected above average reliability. Cockpit a bit tight for a broad tall person and for a 25k to 30k car a a bit noisy. It would be nice if the pop up informational devices could be turned off so they would remain out of view when not desired for use. I noticed in tests of the 2.5 liter engine used on the Mazda3 and Mazda6 done by car and driver and motor trend that the automatic was actual quicker in zero to sixty and quarter mile when tested on the Mazda6. If it was available with a small turbo so that it had a bit more zip. I would end my search and buy it.

What I am looking for is a car sprung more as a sports sedan and not a pure sports car.I appreciate good acceleration but I don't like a car that is noisy all the time that it really detracts from the stereo, even especially when cruising in high gear. A coupe or sporty four door will work. Given that I am tall and broad especially from the waist up, a good sized compact or midsize would be a good choice in terms of wheelbase and width. I do not need the size of a large midsize family oriented sedan. I would prefer a manual transmission but if required I will accept a good athletic automatic. I admire long term reliability and a good aftermarket parts availability in oem specs so I do not get hammered by being forced to buy only oem parts or service from the dealer. I have two excellent independent mechanics. Thanks for the suggestions.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Quietness / Handling / Powertrain performance / Exterior styling

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Coupe

Car Needs: Fun toy / Long trips / Errands about town / Daily commuter

Primary Driver(s): Tall driver

Need minimum of 2 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 70000
Maximum age: 5 years

Maximum price: US $ 32000

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Response from HHR

8:07 am May 7, 2014

Response from w113maj

8:19 am May 7, 2014

New Acura TSX or slightly used V6 TSX. The vw GLI might also fit the bill. Both of these will be comfortable, quick, and quiet. If you want a speedier ride maybe check out a CPO Audi with a supercharged V6, though that may break the budget

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Acura TSX
Volkswagen Jetta
Audi A6 / S6

Response from tkewley

9:56 am May 7, 2014

Used BMW 328i coupe. Very easy to find 3+ year old models off lease, but slightly tougher to find one with the Sport or M Sport packages. The Infiniti G37 coupe is also a solid choice, though somewhat less refined.

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BMW 3-Series
Infiniti G

Response from maxiumpix

10:54 am May 7, 2014

Response from willied

1:02 pm May 7, 2014

I'd suggest testing out a Focus. Should be pretty fun to drive, comes with a manual, and it should be quieter than the Mazda3.

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Ford Focus

Response from Member3349

7:56 pm May 7, 2014

It seems you are a perfect buyer for a Subaru BRZ/Scion FRS, or perhaps the new Ford Fiesta ST, and finally my favorite, a nice Mazda MX-5 Club Edition.

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Subaru BRZ
Ford Fiesta
Mazda MX-5 Miata

Response from psundell

8:54 am May 8, 2014

Thank you for Your input. Miata is too small and likely would not be a good choice in poor weather. I am 6foot two and tall broad in the upper body so I would be cramped in it. Nice sporty car for someone else.

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Mazda MX-5 Miata
Subaru BRZ
Scion FR-S

Response from psundell

8:56 am May 8, 2014

Thank you for Your input. Unfortunately is too small and likely would not be a good choice in poor weather. I am 6foot two and tall broad in the upper body so I would be cramped in it. Nice sporty cars for someone else.

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Response from psundell

9:04 am May 8, 2014

Very good ideas. Thank you. I am checking them out, Jetty SL a good choice in terms of sportiness and fun to drive. TSX very reliable and Regal is offered in a turbo as well.

Paul

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Volkswagen Jetta

Response from mkaresh

11:53 am May 8, 2014

The FRS / BRZ and Miata are also VERY noisy. I hated driving the former on the highway.

My first thought would be the Focus ST, but I think we've discussed it elsewhere before. It is quiet, but the Recaro seats in the upper trim packages are probably too tight, and the styling a little too boy-racer (though color choice can help with this--I'd get the blue).

I've personally never found the current GTI as much fun as others have. The new Audi A3 certainly isn't as fun as the Focus ST. Maybe the 2015 GTI will be dramatically different.

There are probably deals to be found on the Regal GS with a manual transmission. But this is another car that technically handles well, but that isn't very engaging to drive. Had an automatic with AWD a few months ago, review at some point.

Buick also offers the Verano with a turbo engine and manual transmission, and any dealer who ordered one could well be stuck with it. I've only driven (and reviewed) it with the automatic. It might have what you're looking for.

Finally, Kia is offering the Forte SX as a coupe or hatchback. Fairly quiet, okay handling (though probably not comparable to a Ford or Mazda), and fairly quick (but again no match for an ST or GTI; closer to the non-turbo Mazda3 in acceleration).

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Ford Focus
Buick Regal
Buick Verano

Response from mkaresh

11:57 am May 8, 2014

Response from psundell

1:01 pm May 8, 2014

I appreciate the input on the altima. Altima is good car but they have dropped the manual and coupe in all trims.

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Response from psundell

1:35 pm May 8, 2014

Michael,


i appreciate your wisdom as always. I test drove the focus about 8 months ago. Fun to drive. Repair record not good, seat tightness and boy racer look a bit heavy for my taste. I sat very tight in it and had little room in the ricaro seats or shoulders.

Thanks for helping me eliminate Volkswagen. I went on repair pal. Service intervals are considerably more pricey for Volkswagen 4 cylinder turbo than turbos from Subaru. Ford, or Buick. VW reliability is not that good as a whole. My mechanics are not fond of their reliability. The VW Jetta SL is rated as less sporty than GTI than you were underwhelmed by.

Acura ILX 2.4 engine is not directed injected so it has less torque and a narrower power band than the direct injected 2.4 in the Accord. My opinion they should put the direct injected 2.4 in the Acura and try to tweak it to it to have a bit more top end horsepower than the version in the Accord to justify a more premium price for the engine.

I believe I have this down to four new autos unless I run into a fantastic deal used. Subaru WRX, Mazda 3 Kia forte, and Buick regal.

You stated on the regal: "But this is another car that technically handles well, but that isn't very engaging to drive." It what ways was it not engaging: steering, peaky engine, turbo lag?Buick regal may be a bit larger than needed. but very much worth checking out.


If I buy new I want a vehicle that I very likely enjoy for five years minimum. New car goofs sometime happen but they are expensive and saddening. Fortunately I have not had one.

Thanks,

Paul



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Response from mkaresh

1:45 pm May 8, 2014

Mostly the steering. The Regal GS uses a sophisticated front suspension that eliminates torque steer and improves front tire grip but also nearly eliminates any natural weight to the steering.

The smaller Verano doesn't have this suspension, and doesn't have handling limits as high (no GS there), but still doesn't have much steering feel. Worth a trip to the Buick dealer to check them both out, though. But I doubt they'll have a manual in stock. Find one with a manual, and they'll likely be ready to deal.

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Response from nasowas

10:44 pm May 8, 2014

Paul:

You have a generous budget. You could choose a relativley noisy car that is funa and engaging and have auto trim shop apply sound deadening to the body.

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Response from Opuseva

9:31 am May 9, 2014

I submitted a response earlier, it never got posted, so I'm resubmitting.

Hard to believe that with the criteria you listed (Fun Toy, do not need extremely practical, handling, powertrain performance) NOBODY has suggested the MUSTANG. The 2011-2014 models have 300+ HP in the V6, and get reasonable mileage on the highway. No need to explain the fun factor. They are adequately quiet, unless you WANT to make them noisy. And they are priced right - I just picked up an off-lease CPO 2011 for under $20k, and I see ads for well-equipped new 2014s in the $26k range.

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Ford Mustang

Response from psundell

10:30 am May 9, 2014

Good suggestion, I will speak to may autobody man about this. One has to be careful and not void part of new car warrantee or to actual encourage rust by clogging drain holes or promoting rust in any way. My car budget is better by keeping my 2003 Honda accord coupe for 11+ years.



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Response from psundell

10:33 am May 9, 2014

Mustang is rear wheel drive and thus not a good choice in bad weather. You are right it fits most of the other criteria.

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Response from psundell

9:48 am May 21, 2014

I took the Subaru WRX out for a long test drive last night. Spirted fun to drive car. Interior improved and nice simple interior design. with much more soft touch materials. Major complaints: car is noisy at any speed. Six gear on the manual should be longer. Car is reving at 2500 arount 65 to 70 mph. I will test drive the Mazda 3s soon.

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Response from psundell

10:19 am May 24, 2014

I have a question on engine noise. How much noisier are regular fours, direct injected fours and turbo fours than a typical six cylinder engine at cruising speed. I realize that engine revs in a four cylinder must go up to match the output of the six but wouldn't engine noise be more a function of total number of cylinder firings per minute and not whether they are coming from a four or six cylinder engine? Since a direct injected four produces more power over most of the rev range than a regular four, I would expect it to be quieter than a regular four. I have only drove two turbos in my life and they were both four cylinders a Volkswagen GTI and the WRX. If the six cylinder is normally quieter, why is it quieter. Thanks for your help. I could not find the answers on the internet.

I have not test drove Verano Turbo yet, Reviews indicate car is quick, quite, relatively heavy for it size, somewhat cramped front seating, and no fully independent rear suspension. Regal is larger than what I want.

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Response from mkaresh

11:04 am May 26, 2014

It's not just a matter of the quantity of noise. Engines with more cylinders tend to sound better.

DI engines are louder because their fuel systems run at higher pressures and because their compression ratios are higher.

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Response from psundell

12:47 pm May 26, 2014

Response from psundell

8:06 am July 24, 2014

Ordering a manual 2015 Suburu WRX premium today. Some of the increased road noise maybe the summer tires. I will try different tires with the vehicle. Thanks to everyone for their input and help.

Paul Sundell

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Response from psundell

5:57 am August 17, 2014

A little over three weeks ago, I put an order in for a 2015 WRX manual premium trim level. I will receive it in a few weeks. Car has excellent handling, is quick, and fun to drive. Car offers better handling and power than four cylinder versions of most competing vehicles. Car has good room for a compact and interior is improved over previous versions. Major negative is that the car is noisy. Hopefully choosing quieter tires will help. Thanks everyone for the input. It helped.

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