Small hatchback shopping

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Thread: Small hatchback shopping

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    Small hatchback shopping

    My 2005 Mini Cooper S seems to be one step away from being grounded ($1000+ to remove the clutch assembly to determine what's wrong? Screw that!). So now my wife gets her wish to have a newer car.

    Mandatories for both of us (some are nudges, as she doesn't want a sedan):
    - Manual tranny (the top mandatory)
    - Sunroof
    - Navigation

    Here's a list of cars we tested or looked at:
    - Mazda 3
    - Mazda CX-3
    - VW GTi
    - VW Golf or wagon
    - Mini Cooper Clubman
    - Mini Cooper Countryman
    - Mini Cooper 4-door (S too expensive for all Minis)
    - Chevrolet Cruze
    - Chevrolet Bolt
    - Chevrolet Trax
    - Subaru Crosstour (or whatever they call it)
    - Subaru Impreza
    - Honda Civic
    - Honda HRV
    - Ford Focus ST

    Right now, the top 3 are the Mazda, Mini, and VW.

    I never thought I'd ever say this, but the Golf is a bargain in Wolfsburg regalia. It may even be cheaper than the Mazda when it comes to the 36 mos/15k miles/$2500 down that we plan on doing. The Mini will prob be too expensive.

    I'd rather go to the GTi, but in order to get the sunroof, I have to move up several trim levels, which will get expensive. On the other hand, the step up for other cars end up cancelling themselves not due to cost like the VW, but due to the fact that the higher trim levels come standard with automatic.

    The Cruze suffers from that annoying packaging issue but, honestly, it was simply not as enjoyable to drive as the VW and Mazda.

    While the Civic is ugly, I could live with it. Alas, getting the turbo engine in the EX-L with a stick is at a sweet price point but no sunroof; all of the super-ugly hatchbacks come with turbo, but no stick/sunroof combo available. Too bad, as the reviews for the car have been great. We did check out a normally aspirated Civic with stick but my wife wasn't entranced (and paled in comparison to the VW and Mazda).

    And the Focus ST? Rough-around-the-edges fun, but I dislike the interior and the Galpin Ford salesman said it was not available for lease (really? I think he's mistaken). I convinced him to let me test it, but then I called another local deal who gave me some lease terms that are well over $100 more than the VW (which is like 90% the car the GTi is, at about $8000 less).

    But this is a lease, which means I can let my heart rest because German cars were made to be leased, not owned (please don't ask me how I know!).

    While I'm not a "Buy American!"-kind of guy, I am not finding many options from Detroit. From there or otherwise, I'm open to suggestions, but I think I've exhausted everything worthy to satisfy my enthusiast heart while having a bit of utility and economy.
    Last edited by Diego; 06-14-2017 at 08:35 PM.

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    On a lease I'd get the VW

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    We did a similar comparison. Though different cars and options. We wanted hatchback, sport suspension. For my wife we have to go auto. So she has a 2016 Ford Focus SE Hatch with the Sport package. My turn came in Jan. Again I looked at a lot of different vehicles. Ended up with a 2017 Civic Hatchback Sport. I wanted the manual but they sold it and there were none in Michigan. So I settled for the CVT. Yes its looks are polarizing, but it does handle nice. My "must have list" was an engine with at least 180hp and good torque, suspension package, 4 wheel disc, good seats, sign & drive lease, And for my wife... Low lease payment. The civic delivered most of my "wants". I wanted the GTI but the lease was almost $100.00 more per month. Kia/Hyundai didnt have a car that could handle. Mazda lease was to high and the dealers could not find a 2.5L engine. The Focus with the 2.0L engine is ok, but not for me. The ST I was told back in Jan, Ford wasnt leasing them. Now you can. Stupid move by Ford! I have used the Civic as a wagon/pickup at least 3 times now. Yep I like Hatchbacks. The Cruze hatch is nice, my wife likes the looks of the Cruze, but it has one of the smallest hatch openings & cargo space. No true performance package or suspension package. Hello GM WAKE up! GM needs to get serious about the "hot hatch" models.
    Last edited by 88Fiero; 06-14-2017 at 09:34 PM.

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    I would run from anything VW. I'm guessing you know why considering your reason for wanting to just lease one.
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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    I will fall back on my old tried-and-true favorite, KIA Soul. Just one problem. Well, two.

    1. Stick available only on base 1.6 model.
    2. Toys and powah on top model, the !. OR the midline +, which can be loaded up too. But both can be had relatively cheap, considering. And the auto is "shiftable" so along with the driver making engine noises (rmmm, rmmm, rmmmm, rrrrttttt!!! etc.) as you drive, I think that adequately addresses the stick shift problemo!

    Well, three.
    3. There is Nav and there is Nav. Spoiled by my humble Garmin 2598, the confusion of the Mazda nav, its lack of much of a street database, and the generally VERY IRRITATING dial-it-up control, is something I'd take a long look at before leasing. I don't know how good the VW nav is, but ALL NAVS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.
    Some are just hopeless damn fools, like the Mazda system. I wasted 400 bucks, learn from the mistakes of others.


    I actually recently considered a base Soul--though I wanted an ! turbo--during my current car-fluffle, it's about as quick (I think) as the Terrain I leased. Too bad KIA saleshomies seem congenitally unable to do the work--like follow up, return calls, return emails, etc.--needed to actually close the deal. Even for people READY TO BUY. Ditto the "managers."
    Good luck.

    You can about buy the base Soul for as cheap as you can lease a 'dubya, I think. I found the Golf I drove quite unremarkable, but to each his own. And the VW was oddly susceptible to cross winds. Not a big deal I guess for most people.

    Buy a base Soul stick for cheap cheap cheap. Get a hole cut in da roof. OR have a professional s'n'oofer guy do a professional job.

    Buy a good $200-$300 6" or even 7" reconditioned Garmin. Maybe one with a built-in cam.

    You get Big KIA Warranty and not the headaches of taking the VW in every few months for another failed system of one sort or another.
    Last edited by Neanderthal; 06-15-2017 at 06:37 AM.
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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Focus ST. I don't think anything else is comparable in the looks/performance/price comparison. I do like the new Beetle's too, but I don't think they make a sporty one.

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    my experience with VW is they are ONLY as good as the repair shop's techs VW's tech support is quite bad and not all the techs are VERY GOOD on complex cars and it seems VW's are MECHANICALLY quite good but the ADD ON electrical accessories ETC are issue prone whereas Hyundais are the opposite they sh%t an engine BUT the power mirrors all work

    Mazda's look to be quite reliable and are GETTING better as far as rusting out (do NOT see used Mazda's as the rust KILLS them VERY QUICKLY up here )

    MINI in my friends experience MAKES VW look reliable AND CHEAP to repair and LIKE VW are very mechanic dependant and LESS independant friendly

    your top 3 I would LEASE the VW BUY the Mazda and PASS the MINI

    the Nissan JUKE is quite "sporty" for a cheap compact CUV and the JEEP renegade both NOT on your LIST and you did include the HR-V and TRAX

    you included the BOLT with MISSES your "must haves" the VOLT would be cheaper with better availability

    what about gently used WRX?

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
    3. There is Nav and there is Nav. Spoiled by my humble Garmin 2598, the confusion of the Mazda nav, its lack of much of a street database, and the generally VERY IRRITATING dial-it-up control, is something I'd take a long look at before leasing. I don't know how good the VW nav is, but ALL NAVS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.
    Some are just hopeless damn fools, like the Mazda system. I wasted 400 bucks, learn from the mistakes of others
    Personally, I don't get why people order car nav systems anymore. As long as the system has Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, you should not need an expensive and soon to be obsolete nav.
    Well, unless you live in an area with patchy coverage.

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Sonic hatch is about same size as Minis, doesn't feel much smaller than Cruze hatch to me. 2017 styling way better than fugly civic hatch IMO, 20% off MSRP on some models right now. Even my lowly LS with 1.8L 5sp manual is a gas to drive, but you'll want an LT or Premier with 1.4T 6sp manual with sunroof option. apple/android and onstar for nav.

    If power isn't enough, 1.4T is by all accounts easily tunable for more (see sonicownersforum.com for a lot of discussion on that).

    Let us know what you choose!
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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by jalberda View Post
    Personally, I don't get why people order car nav systems anymore. As long as the system has Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto, you should not need an expensive and soon to be obsolete nav.
    Well, unless you live in an area with patchy coverage.
    Agree. After my factory nav experiences, you can have the whole kit and kaboodle. Garmin works, Google Maps works, I haven't tried Apple CarPlay but it could hardly be any more problematic than the Maz junk nav.

    SAVE YOUR MONEY!

    Problem is the makers force Nav on you at the higher end, just as they force you into an automatic.

    I personally thought the Civic Hatch was cool in some colors, battleship grey for one. Very Darth Vader. And of everything I've driven in the last year, I'd say the 1.5t and CVT is hands down the powertrain of the future.

    If the sukkah didn't sit as low as an Austin Healy Sprite, I'd probably have leased one.
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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by FenwickHockey65 View Post
    I would run from anything VW. I'm guessing you know why considering your reason for wanting to just lease one.
    Same - VW is a nightmare, even in 2017.

    Why not look at a Cruze diesel. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Quote Originally Posted by kool1 View Post
    Same - VW is a nightmare, even in 2017.

    Why not look at a Cruze diesel. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
    That would work, I guess. Just pop some VW and Golf tags on that sukkah, you're In Like Flynn.
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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    Have you tried the Sonic or Volt? What did you think of the Bolt?

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    Re: Small hatchback shopping

    I have an older Mazda 3 (2005 model, 2.3L with 4 speed auto), hopefully they improved a few items in the latest models from then:

    - Useless AC system. It's a common complaint about Mazdas, at least it used to be. Their AC systems are the absolute pits. Make sure you test out a car with a black interior on a hot day and see how long it takes the car to cool down. Mine never can cool down properly and there is nothing wrong with the system in my car, it's the garbage design.

    - Rust, as mentioned earlier. I had the problem in all 4 doors, one in particular being the worst. The dealer had it corrected but it was due to shoddy prep at the factory and again, a known issue in Mazdas spanning generations. It wasn't due to where I lived (central North Carolina), it was due to improper cleaning of the bare metal where the inner door frame was welded to the outer sheet metal skin. In several areas around the seam where the 2 panels meet, from underneath the rubber "weatherstrip" that's painted over at that, rust came creeping out around the 3rd year of ownership.

    - Mediocre gas mileage, hopefully the SkyActiv engines improve that. So far, my 2017 Malibu with the 2L turbo/9 speed auto gets *better* MPG in both city and freeway.

    - NOISE. Mazdas lack sound insulation, they're fun to drive but the racket gets tiring. That's one of the main reasons I got my Malibu, I was tired of the NOISE.

    Reliability of my 3 was OK, nothing spectacular in the least though. My wife's 2010 Equinox, bought in Nov. 2009, had vastly fewer issues in the nearly 8 years we've had it compared to the Mazda at the 8 year mark. And the Mazda costs a LOT more to get fixed than the 'Nox, labor isn't that bad but parts prices are too often at BMW levels.

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