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ex-s2000-owner looking for a fun sedan replacement, has to be fun, manual tranny, reliable. AND CHEAP!! like 13k or less.

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta

Member5962

Draging priorities didn't work for me, so here is what I'm looking for, fast sports sedan fun, manual tranny, reliable. AND CHEAP!! like 13k I've owned lots of cars over the years, Audi, Volkwagon, Acura TL, Integra, RSX type s,WRX, S2000. I just sold my S2000 because I havekidsnow and it just wasn't getting driven at all, the paint was all gross from just sitting there and it needed a new clutch, uggg, didn't want to pay $1000+ for a clutch for a car I drive 7 times a year.In the next 6mo Iwill look for aSports Sedanbecause I'm expecting to need seperate transportation from my wifeto a differentcareer that would require me to travelalone (no more carpooling). I'm very much leaningtowards used 2004-2006 G35 sedan with Manual or 2007-2008 Civic Si Sedan. But I'mreally wondering what people think about these ideas? G35 sedan- nice power, assumed reliability, RWD, good size backseats, a few manuals out there for sale, might require some suspension tuning, are these things reliable after 120k? Civic SI sedan - can be fun at times, reliable, great shifter, good size backseats, nicer interior, boy racer outside meh, $$. Do i really want another honda 8k RPM FWD racer? VW GTI 4 Door -fun, manual, but reliable after 100k? MazdaSpeed 3 - lots of fun, nice interior, small backseat, but 250+FWD hp?reliable after 100k? BMW 3,5 series -nice nice nice, butuhhhmaintenance/reliability cost, hahahaha ACura TSX, nice inside/out, reliable, butkinda slowwwww and $$ Is250, nice outside, corrolla inside, dwarf backseats, slow and $$$$ American sedans, fast,boat-ish, questionable relibility, rare manuals, rental car interior

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Coupe / Sedan

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 110000
Maximum age: 20 years

Maximum price: US $ 13000

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Response from sasolomon

8:34 pm June 16, 2014

To comment on your first two:
G35 - great engine, meh transmission and clutch (in my opinion), and you might find the suspension slightly unsettling when you get the car out to 90-95% of its capability. I don't find it that stable at the edge - certainly nothing like an S2K.
Civic Si - much smaller and yes, econocar roots and slightly boyracer but lots of fun. Might be your best bet.

Also consider:
Acura TL - nice interior and sharp looking (especially last generation before "the beak" which can be replaced with a normal grill) and really strong mechanicals. Much closer to the G35.

Mazda3 - you mention the speed3 but not the standard 3 with the 2.5l - not fast enough for you? It is a fun car and well built, plus you can get a much newer one than the other models you are considering.

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Acura TL
Mazda Mazda3

Response from mkaresh

5:34 am June 17, 2014

I wish I could recommend a first-gen CTS, but am unsure of its reliability.

The G35 looks pretty good in our stats. One common problem to look out for are leaking valve cover seals. The oil gets to the spark plugs, and then the car doesn't run well. Repair costs about $300 per bank, so not too bad. Some also seem to run through tires and brakes, perhaps because of how they're driven. (These replacements aren't included in our stats.)

If the Civic Si seems a little immature, how about a first-generation Acura TSX? Not many recent problems. In the past the 2004 and 2005 had multiple reports of power door lock actuator failures (relatively cheap repair) and the HVAC/audio display sometimes went dim with the 2004.

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Acura TSX

Response from Member5962

12:26 am July 5, 2014

Sasoloman, I actually own an ACURA TL and it definitely has some of the same characteristics as other honda, like a smooth transmission. The G35 was my top pick so far. In lots of ways I think the S2000 is much more scary at the limit, the early models have no traction control and it feels like the limit is the sky until you are up a curb somewhere. The S2000 is a go cart with the single purpose of complete comtrol and feedback (it's like a perfectly weighted jinsu knife), so it is reasonably easier to end up a curb somewhere compared to the G35 sedan (more like a chainsaw with an automatic shutoff) with all the electronic nannies. I have not test driven any mazda3/MS3 yet but I'm still a little skeptical that they really are as engaging as everyone raves about. Sometimes people rave about cars that are more sporty than they expect, but if you compare it to a purpose built sports car the sporty feel fades. Haha, the other problem I have is I showed my wife a picture of one and she said it was "ugly", just like how she said my old "WRX" was ugly.

Mkaresh, I love your envolvment with this site. A true dedicated car enthusiast with some mad survey skills. I have not test drove a CTS yet but I should put that on my list. They are pretty big cars so I'm preparing my captains hat and ores, I heard the newer models have really reduced the overall footprint and feel lighter on their feet.

Update: I test drove an 2003 M3 (for funs sake).. with an SMG (no fun sake). It was a convertible just like my s2000, but had tons of body flex over unever pavement, but overall felt very planted. I'm going to have to write up another post on the entire SMG thing (not good), but the car was a blast to drive otherwise. The weight of the car did give you a solid sense of road hugging but at the same time a predictable, I can feel the limit, cornering. The engie sound and jealous neighbors alone is worth the maintenance. I think there is almost no way I would buy an M3, but I get the whole "I drive a german car" liefstyle.

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BMW 3-Series

Response from mkaresh

7:30 am July 5, 2014

I know what you mean about the S2000, that rear end does have a way of stepping out (though only a short hop unless you really overcook it). Insurance costs tend to be high because of the frequency with which they are wrecked.

I also know what you mean about supposedly fun cars not being all that fun when compared to the S2000. I've been wondering about a similar combination for 15 years, and have largely come up with nothing.

Something about the first-gen G35 has always appealed to me. But it doesn't steer with the agility or precision of a good sports car. Nor does anything else in that segment. The issue with the G35's stability control is that, although it will keep a lid on oversteer, it cuts in early and hard.

An M3 feels great if you can really push it. But in daily driving the steering feels heavy and the car acts like it's bored (typical BMW this way).

One outside possibility is the first-gen Lexus IS. I don't remember a "wow" moment with this one, and the interior was oddly styled (if we want to put a positive spin on it, it had "character"). Manuals are rare, but they are out there. Sadly, the wagon was not offered with a manual, or I'd likely want one. Tight back seat.

A Mazda RX-8 delivers much of the handling of the S2000, with much better control at the limit and a much better ride, and a usable back seat. But fuel economy is poor and reliability with a lot of miles is iffy.

If you can live with a very firm suspension and cheap interior, the Mitsubishi Evo might deliver what you're looking for. Much more immediate responses than any other sedan I've driven (including the STI it competes with), and a lot of steering feedback. BUT somehow they're holding value far better than I expected. Last time I was at a Mitsubishi dealer they were discounting new Evos from $36,000 to $28,000, and they were still on the lot. But look at asking prices for used 2008s, and they're rarely under $24,000. The previous generation was even more fun but even cheaper inside. And people are asking high teens to mid-20s for those as well. To get near $13,000 you'd probably have to get a 2003-2005 with a lot of miles. And it would probably have had to have been abused. Mitsubishi can't sell many of the new ones, but depreciation slows to a crawl once the value falls below $25,000.Makes no sense, but somehow the way it is.

So I guess this puts us back to the G35.

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Response from Member5962

7:27 pm July 5, 2014

I have driven a 2004 EVO and to date I still consider it my favorite car in terms of overall handling, power, feel. I would even rate this more enjoyable than Lotus Elise, but I would put the S2000 ahead of the Lotus as well, however they are a closer comparison. For the same reasons I wouldn't buy an M3 I wouldn't buy a EVO, they are both hangar queens (rolling mechanic mortgage paments) from what I've heard. The second thing that scares me with used EVO is the absolute lack of well cared for examples out there. All the listings I have seen have been modded with boost controllers, major engine mods like cams, ported heads, exhausts, tunes (all waiting for engine detonation). When you buy a car with major engine mods it's pretty much assumed that the owner is using them and you will be also, every red light dragstrip or what is the point right? This is the same reason Prius owners report such insane gas mileage, no drag racing and lots of watching the MPG meter.

First gen IS300 are very nice, but extremely rare in manual and basically unicorns (mystical animals that only appear under magical conditions) when they are manual tranny, low mileage and low price.

Never driven an RX8, but I'm really more interested in Sedans if possible. I will definitely put that on my test drive list.

I absolutely agree about the G35 sedan steering, very Toyota-ish and not very communicative. I'm wondering what suspension upgrades would do for a first gen sedan. I've heard that sways/springs/shocks from 350z help a lot and I know the steering can be tightened down with bushings. That is quite a bit of work to be done, but none at the expense of reliability, gas mileage or sedan usability. I have only found 2 good threads on G35 sedan suspension upgrades on different forums. Anyone have experience to share on this?

Some dream dillusional options:
EVO with an LT1?
Premium Civic/TSX with RWD S2000 swap
M3 E46 chasis, with Lexus sourced realiable ISF engine

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Response from mkaresh

8:05 am July 6, 2014

IS 300s with manual transmissions might be rare, but they are out there. There are a few in your price range with decent miles on autotrader.com right now.

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