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Good looking, quick (~300hp+), RWD/AWD car for running around town and use as a toy

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member6256

I'm interested in a good looking (I realize this is subjective), relatively sporty car for running around town. My preference would be something from one of the German big three luxury brands but lately I've been very intrigued by the 6th generation Mustang (2015+ model year). My one big concern with buying German is reliability so any model/year/brand-specific insights you have would be much appreciated.

I've been looking at the BMW 2-series (both 228 and M235), the Audi S3, and the 2015+ Mustang (both Ecoboost and GT) but haven't driven any of them yet. I've always been a fan of the big German V8s so I've also been looking at CPO BMW 550s and Mercedes E550s (coupe only, not a fan of the look of the sedans).

I don't know how to drive manual but I'd be willing to learn so this is not a dealbreaker.

Key points (make):
-300hp+ for a compact/midsize or 400hp+ for a full size
-RWD or AWD
-Leather interior
-Backup camera and/or rear parking sensors (both preferred)
-Limited slip differential (nice to have)
-Selectable ride settings (nice to have)

Key points (break):
-Not Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, or GM brands
-FWD

Priorities: Exterior styling / Powertrain performance / Handling / Warranty, maintenance cost / Materials & workmanship

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Sedan

Car Needs: Errands about town / Fun toy

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 60000
Maximum age: 3 years

Maximum price: C $ 45000

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Response from mkaresh

7:42 pm December 22, 2014

The new Mustang drives far better than any previous one. I actually enjoyed it more than the new M3 and Lexus RC, as I found it more involving.

Among BMWs, I like the 2-Series best currently. But I also tend to prefer compact cars over larger ones. The main thing I have against the Mustang is that it does feel a little large and heavy.

The second issue with the Mustang is that its interior isn't as nice as those of the expensive German cars. I'm okay with most of it anyway, but wish they hadn't molded such obviously fake stitching into the instrument panel.

I haven't yet driven the S3. The A3 isn't nearly as fun to drive as the Mustang or the BMW, but it's handling is safer. I did enjoy driving the GTI, but that said it's a much different feel than the RWD cars.

It's not yet possible to say how reliable the all-new Mustang will be. Previous ones have generally done well in our survey. The BMW and Audi should be reasonably reliable (perhaps even very reliable) for at least the length of the four-year warranty. The 2015 A3 and GTI have been outstanding so far in our survey--but they're still very young. After 4-6 years German cars tend to get expensive--though the latest ones could be better (too soon to say).

Really, you can't go wrong with any of these cars. They are all very good, just in different ways. So it's very much a matter of what sort of car you want.

The only Asian cars that might fit what you're looking for are the Genesis Coupe and Q60 (G37). But neight is a match for the three you've already listed.

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Ford Mustang
BMW 2-Series
Audi A3 / S3 / RS3

Response from Member6256

11:21 am December 24, 2014

Thanks for your insights. Interesting that you found the Mustang a more engaging drive than the M3 as the M3 has always been one of my dream cars. Have you driven both the Ecoboost and the GT? The Ecoboost is cheaper and seems like a good idea in theory but I'm skeptical about the fuel economy when the turbocharger spools up and also about the reliability of a turbocharged engine putting out that much power. I may wait a year to see if I can pick up a used GT since there should be less uncertainties about long term reliability with it.

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Response from mkaresh

12:12 pm December 24, 2014

I drove both, but it wasn't a fair comparison because the 5.0 had the Recaro seats, and I think the Performance Package as well. Most reviewers seem to prefer the handling of the EB when both are equipped the same way.

I wouldn't worry about reliability with the turbo unless you'll have it well over 120,000 miles. But the 5.0 sounds and feels better. Sweet engine.

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Response from koksetna

5:52 pm January 7, 2015

Ive been waiting to drive GTI, A3, Sportwagen and 2 Series. mKaresh, I'm interested in your comment that the A3s handling is "safer" than the 2 series. Can you elaborate? I'm not a Type A driver. (Current ride is a vw TDI JSW,, have a Miata for summer fun).

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Response from mkaresh

8:08 pm January 7, 2015

Just the usual AWD vs. RWD difference. The 2-Series isn't a tricky car to drive, especially not with the stability control on, but you'd really have to do something stupid to lose control of the A3.

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Response from Member6256

6:36 pm July 21, 2015

Thanks for the responses. I ended up leasing a 2015 VW GTI with the performance package. In terms of practicality and value the GTI was just too hard to turn down. I took it for a few test drives and while it definitely wasn't as fast as the 5.0 Mustang or even the 228, it felt like it has more power and torque than the spec sheet suggests (220hp, 258 ft-lbs). The locking differential that comes with the performance package also felt like it made enough of a difference that I was okay with forgoing RWD or a rear-biased AWD system (I believe the A3/S3 are front-biased anyway).

I still have some concerns about VW reliability but leasing instead of buying should hopefully mitigate this somewhat (at least in regards to out of pocket repair costs).

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Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI

Response from mkaresh

5:47 pm July 29, 2015

I think you'll be happy with it. I'm testing a new Golf R this week, and based on my initial drive the GTI is a better car for daily driving. The Golf R has much more boost lag and its ride is much bumpier than the GTI's.

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