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)
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.