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Weekend city car, practical needs, but want something I can track occaisionally

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member6008

I street park in a city, so smaller is better all else equal, and I'll live with dings
Not commuting, and I can fix stuff, so reliability isn't the top concern to me (but replacing a driveline while parallel parked is probably not happening, so some reliability matters)

Needs:
New kid = need 3+ doors
reasonably safe
3 pedals

Wants:
Fun to drive around corners
Not gonna kill me with depreciaiton
Enough power to make use of cornering ability

Ideal (doesn't exist):
e46 m3 +manual+ wagon+ air conditioned seats

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Sedan

Car Needs: Family transporter / Errands about town

Primary Driver(s): New driver

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 80000
Maximum age: 6 years

Maximum price: US $ 20000

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Response from avshelden

8:39 pm August 26, 2014

So, you say your ideal is a wagon, but you list preferred body styles are coupe or sedan. My inclination is to recommend a 5 door.

With you wish list for A/C seats, I'm thinking a higher end make might be of interest, Audi A3 comes to mind, but repairs can be a bit expensive (relability reports here have this model "average").

I rented a Golf 5 Door on vacation recently and liked it quite a bit. I'm not sure what they have for high end amenities. Another well reviewed vehicle is the new Ford Focus ST, but probably not something you're going to find for <$20K given they are 2013 model year or newer. Cars.com shows a couple at $21K so if you're really good at bargaining maybe.

The other one that I think fits in this group would be a Mazada3 (possibly the Mazadaspeed3)

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Mazda Mazda3
Volkswagen Golf / Rabbit / GTI
Ford Focus

Response from willied

10:47 pm August 26, 2014

I'd also recommend the Focus ST, or the Fiesta ST, though it may be too small.

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Ford Focus
Ford Fiesta

Response from mitchell9353

5:36 pm August 27, 2014

I agree with the above suggestions and would add the Subaru Impreza or Outback Sport. These cars are bullet proof so you should be able to buy used and not worry about reliability. Subaru owners are usually not hard on their cars so a used unit would be less likely to have been abused.

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Subaru Impreza / Outback Sport
Subaru XV Crosstrek

Response from mkaresh

8:13 pm August 28, 2014

It sounds like you really want a BMW. You can get a 2008 328i wagon within your budget. Power is really only necessary when there aren't a lot of curves. Just work that shifter to get the most out of the straight six.

These are looking bad in our stats right now, but I think the end of the CPO warranty has something to do with this. The 2007s are now looking better than they did a year ago (if still not very good). In general, buying a six-plus-year-old German car is a crapshoot. You could end up with no repairs. Or with some very expensive ones. But most likely with a few that are manageable.

If you're willing to get a front-wheel-drive hatchback, then check out those suggested above to see which you like best. Or, for AWD, a WRX.

A NEW Kia Forte5 SX isn't quite as fun as the others, but does include a cooled driver seat with an MSRP of $23,900. If you can afford a $20,000 six-year-old car, you can afford a $23,000 new one.

One off-the-wall suggestion: the most fun I've had on the roads of West Virginia (just drove from DC to Detroit) is in a Mazda RX-8. Outstanding handling, cheap to buy, and child seats will fit in back (much larger and much easier to access rear seat than a Scion FR-S or Hyundai Genesis Coupe). No torque, but on mountain roads this isn't an issue. Just keep the revs up. Fuel economy is only high teens to low 20s, but this probably isn't much of a consideration since you won't be driving it much.

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BMW 3-Series
Kia Forte
Mazda RX-8

Response from Member6008

2:19 pm September 10, 2014

OP here: Good suggestions, and mostly what I was leaning towards--the answer is probably some kind of hottish hatch, but it's hard to commit. The focus st was high on the list, spouse has ruled out fiesta st as too small, but I'd love to drive one.

The RX8 suggestion was inspired. Going to give that some more thought, as it might be in the sweet spot of fun and lack of reliability I'm shooting for.

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Response from mitchell9353

9:16 pm September 10, 2014

HOT HATCH? As long as you're checking out the RX-8, also consider the Mazadaspeed3. Fun, hot, 5-door hatch... you should be able to find a 2012 with your $20K.

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Mazda Mazda3
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