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kazoospec
kazoospec SuperDork
9/17/17 8:04 a.m.

At long last, it looks like I've wrapped up my search for a daily driver/winterbeater.  My son will be getting the our Protege5, which I've actually grown to like.  I've been looking for a low maintenance, high MPG commuter to supplement the Miata.  It also has to be small due to garage/driveway space issues.  After much deliberation and over a dozen test drives, I had settled on a first gen Fit with a 5 speed.  Except I couldn't find one, at least one that wasn't overpriced by about $2000.  Then this happened:

Last week a co-worker stopped in and asked if I could help him sell his car.  The end result: I've reached a deal to be the proud owner of an 09 Yaris (sedan), one owner, dealer serviced on the factory intervals, with a 5 speed (this was a non-negotiable) and 60K on the clock.  I actually negotiated the price UP a couple hundred from what he was asking because, well, you just don't take advantage of friends/family.  

So, financially, I'm comfortable it will be a good move.  I'm also pretty sure the car will feel like a penalty box.  Just wondering how bad.  2 minute minor? Game misconduct?  Also, any known bolt on's that might make it more fun?  (The internet seems relatively silent on this topic)

BTW - my one proposed nod to fun was to modify the nameplate to say "Yar" and go with a pirate theme for the car.  (Including my masterpiece, a vanity plate "DPRBRTS")  My wife is not amused.  

oldtin
oldtin PowerDork
9/17/17 8:12 a.m.

Nothing has to be a penalty box . Plenty of performance upgrades available.

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
9/17/17 8:12 a.m.

They're not exactly fun cars, although they're small and not super heavy, so they're reasonably nimble.  They are, however, annoyingly durable.  As in, you'll get tired of it before you manage to wear it out. 

mad_machine
mad_machine MegaDork
9/17/17 8:14 a.m.

I drove a 1st gen for a few hundred miles out in Ok. The centre mounted cluster took some getting used to (do they still have that) and the car felt very cheap, but it was still better than the Hyundai excel I had a few years before.

They are not fast, they will not pull close to 1g on the skidpad, but you will feel like you are driving 9/10s all the time because you are. The limits on these little cars are low enough that everything is engaging and fun if you do not mind a complete lack of creature comforts

mazdeuce
mazdeuce MegaDork
9/17/17 8:25 a.m.

The best upgrade for any of these little cars is a decent set of shocks. Tame the bobbing and weaving a bit and they can be enjoyable as long as you accept them for what they are. It'll be slow, which is bad, but that means you get to hammer on it without breaking the speed limit, which is good. They don't have great cornering ability, which is bad, but that means you can ride the hairy edge of grip and be going the same speed as the minivan in front of you, which is good. 

Get used to the rhythm of the car. Heel toe. How the car takes a set on turn in. There is a tremendous amount of fun to be had as long as you don't expect it to be something other than what it is. 

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/17/17 8:44 a.m.

I was curious so I looked up some pics...

Isn't this the same chassis as the Scion xD?  Might find suspension choices under that name. 

 

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/17/17 8:53 a.m.

I test drove a hatch version back in '07. I remember it having an absolute ton of road noise. I bet adding insulation to the floor and firewall would make a big improvement.

I have seen recommended for other cars a foil lined sort of bubble wrap looking type insulation for just this application in cars.  The stuff can be found at Lowes Depot.

Pull the seats and carpet. Tape this stuff into place. Extra attention to tape at ends and seams. Reinstall carpet back over that. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
9/17/17 8:57 a.m.

You could always add a 50 shot of nawz. You know...for safety.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/17/17 9:00 a.m.
John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/17/17 9:04 a.m.

You can also probably reduce a lot of road noise through different tire choices.   I'll bet these cheap narrow tires (which are good for mpg) are not good for ride or low noise.  

wheelsmithy
wheelsmithy Dork
9/17/17 9:05 a.m.

Wasn't there a Yaris racing series in Europe? 

 

I like these cars. Like a modern take on a Corolla/Civic. Basic, fun transportation that can be way more fun than it has a right to be.

 

wearymicrobe
wearymicrobe UberDork
9/17/17 10:44 a.m.

Man if its anything like my Scion IQ its kind of fun to drive at full throttle for 50% of your commute and bearly break the speed limit.

They also have a surprisingly high traction.

kazoospec
kazoospec SuperDork
9/17/17 11:30 a.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

The pics are pretty much the exact car, except that it's sort of a deep red/burgundy color.  As for road noise, my normal daily commute is only about 10 minutes, and mostly city driving, so my usual solution is to buy a louder exhaust and/or play the radio louder.   smiley

sleepyhead
sleepyhead Reader
9/17/17 11:54 a.m.

I test drove a hatch before buying my Fit in 2008... would've bought it, except the driving position felt weird to me.

You should check out the back catalog of Armstrong Racing, might be some useful info from before the 2zr swap?
Dunno if this interview gives a good starting point... wonder if the TRD bits are still around, or if finding the SCCA B-spec setup would be better (was that a thing?)?

Good luck!  I look forward to following along.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
9/17/17 2:25 p.m.

In reply to kazoospec :

Perfect car for a 10 minute city drive.

When we looked at one it was for my wife's 45 min hyw drive. She ended up with a Versa which had the best hyw manners on "The Scion Class" of that time. 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
9/17/17 2:31 p.m.

That might be the first time anyone has ever said the Versa was the best at anything other than sucking.

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
9/17/17 2:43 p.m.
kazoospec
kazoospec SuperDork
9/17/17 3:03 p.m.

In reply to MrChaos :

Thanks!  I had found the swaybar from other sources, which is probably where I'll start if/when I start tinkering with it.  Hadn't found the other stuff, though.    

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
9/17/17 3:07 p.m.

I think the shocks are too expensive and you could likely find something that works just as well going by size. the lowering springs are cheap enough though.

kazoospec
kazoospec SuperDork
9/17/17 3:22 p.m.

In reply to MrChaos :

Just found a Yaris site where they claim the TRD's are just re-branded KYB GR2's, which retail for $240 from Tire Rack.  

(Repeats to self:  I  will not modify my DD.  I will not modify my DD.  I will not modify my DD.)

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
9/17/17 3:27 p.m.

I think there is a supercharger floating around for these as well.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess MegaDork
9/17/17 3:38 p.m.

A guy at work had one of those, but with the auto box.  I drove it once.  It was OK.  Kinda the like what the economy Corolla was, now that the Corolla has morphed into the Camry and the Camry has morphed into something bigger.

Oh, TRD made a turbo setup for that 1NZFE.  y0.

rslifkin
rslifkin SuperDork
9/17/17 3:43 p.m.

I do give Toyota a lot of credit for the TRD stuff they put out.  "Hey, nice Camry.  Want some springs to go with it?"  "Oh, you're buying a Tacoma...  Need a blower?" 

Zomby Woof
Zomby Woof PowerDork
9/17/17 6:45 p.m.

Wasn't there a Yaris racing series in Europe? 

Canada too.

I don't think the motors stood up. 

boxedfox
boxedfox New Reader
9/17/17 9:06 p.m.

I had an 07 sedan. It was as Spartan as hell (mine even had hand crank windows) and there was a ton of road noise like everyone says, but otherwise a half decent commuter car. I remember that it was a peppy car and the 1NZ-FE under the hood was eerily smooth.

Replacing the worn out stock dampers with KYB GR2s and sway bar endlinks completely changed how it felt from when I'd bought it (it had 55k miles at the time). Changing the front dampers was a pain because the shock mounts are underneath the windshield cowl, but all other maintenance items are super easy.

I couldn't stand the floppy shifter and long brake pedal travel so I ended up getting brass shifter bushings and stainless steel brake lines. That made it feel like a nicer car than it actually was.

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