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scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
9/4/18 9:16 a.m.

Okay, so I've been car shopping lately.  I've driven 6-8 cars and am kind of in a quandary.

I'm kind of falling in love with a Cadillac ATS, but with the center stack horror stories, and budget considerations, I want to find an alternative.  Please help!

My operating parameters were more or less as follows:

  • 4 doors
  • Fits a car seat behind me (and I'm short, so this isn't a huge deal for a car to pass, I haven't had a sedan fail yet.)
  • Automatic/DCT/etc.  <-- this sort of became a requirement mid-stride, side-note: I want flappy paddles
  • fun to drive!
  • Won't embarrass itself at an autocross
  • Budget - up to $25k, but... I want to spend less.

So, here's my test drive notes:

  1. 2015 Buick Regal GS FWD - Great seats, seemed more of a tourer than a 4-door sports car.  If it were several hundred pounds lighter and slightly smaller, it would have fared better.  
  2. 2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro DCT - Didn't get a great test drive.  2.0 seemed very responsive.  Liked the flappy paddles.  It put down power well.  Didn't really get to try handling.  Power/weight felt decent.
  3. recent MB C250 Sport (1.8T) - I wanted more power, and I have an instinctual bias against MB, for no reason.  Handled decently though.
  4. 2015 Honda Fit manual - The wompy noise it makes made up for the lack of power.  Clutch pedal was way too light.  Nostalgia factor was helping with it.  Liked how light it was.
  5. 2014 Ford Focus ST - Loved the seats.  Good power and put it down well.  Realized that, far too often, I don't want to deal with a clutch in a DD.
  6. 2015 Cadillac ATS 2.0T Luxury AWD - Really liked the power delivery.  Seats were okay.  Would prefer RWD.  Didn't have flappy paddles.
  7. 2015 Jetta GLI - Decent power, but when I was applying it in a corner, it was way too easy to spin the inside tire.  Didn't like the black on black interior.
  8. 2014 Q40 (G37) Sedan - Steering felt overly heavy.  It had good power. Didn't have the flappy paddles, and didn't have a good steering wheel.  Needed a LSD.  Meh seats.  Supposedly there's ones with flappy paddles and a better steering wheel.  I've seen about 10 G37/Q40/Q50 listings and none have had flappy paddles.
  9. 2015 335i Sedan - Too expensive, and didn't have flappy paddles, but otherwise very nice.  Was more than my budget allowed, and had a thin rattly noise on acceleration.  Would prefer a non-black interior.  Turn signals were frustrating.
  10. 2015 Cadillac ATS 3.6 Premium RWD - Really liked this.  Was over my budget. Power was good.  Put down the power well.  Handled well.  Loved the tan interior.  Liked using the flappy paddles.  Seats were only okay.  Didn't like the center stack touch setup.  Steering wheel seemed overly thick.

So, I'd been looking out for an ATS 2.0T RWD w/ flappy paddles and a LSD, but those are rare/difficult to find, and I had some other issues/concerns.  AND I'm starting to feel like I want to keep it under $20k.  Part of me just wants to find an e36 M3 sedan (auto), but those are more rare.

SO, help me out, hive mind.  What should I look for?

captdownshift
captdownshift PowerDork
9/4/18 9:21 a.m.

GTI 

Antihero
Antihero HalfDork
9/4/18 9:24 a.m.
captdownshift said:

GTI 

Thats where i went when i was reading the post too

DrBoost
DrBoost MegaDork
9/4/18 9:29 a.m.

What about a charger? You can get AWD with the V6 (almost 300 hp) or RWD hemi power!

red_stapler
red_stapler Dork
9/4/18 9:29 a.m.
Antihero said:
captdownshift said:

GTI 

Thats where i went when i was reading the post too

The GTI and S3 are probably the most competitive choices for autocrossing something with flappy paddles and 4 doors.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
9/4/18 9:48 a.m.

Yeah, my vote is for GTI as well.  I assume the Golf R is not down in your budget area, yet.  Every time I see one of those at autocross, it is deceptively fast - very little fuss, but very quick times.  I would assume S3 prices are worse than Golf R, and it's (probably) heavier.  An A3 is probably same price as a GTI, but less competitive.

T.J.
T.J. MegaDork
9/4/18 10:08 a.m.

What about the WRXs with CVTs? They have flappy paddles don't they?

Steven S Cardella
Steven S Cardella SuperDork
9/4/18 10:12 a.m.

I saw one used Golf R for sale, but it's at $35k.  It was certainly on my brainstorming list. 

BTW, it doesn't have to be at the nationals trophy level of competitiveness, just not at the bottom.

Antihero
Antihero HalfDork
9/4/18 10:19 a.m.
Steven S Cardella said:

I saw one used Golf R for sale, but it's at $35k.  It was certainly on my brainstorming list. 

BTW, it doesn't have to be at the nationals trophy level of competitiveness, just not at the bottom.

Golf R's dont really fall much in value. ive seen cars 3 years old and 45k miles on it 2k under new

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/4/18 10:28 a.m.

 

E60 M5?

 

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan SuperDork
9/4/18 10:29 a.m.

Number nine. Wait Beemers actually have turn signals? indecision

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/4/18 10:29 a.m.

I dunno about a V10 M5, but I'd be looking at some M3s or newer 3-series. Maybe not as new as a 2015, you may be able to get more car for the money if you get a slightly older one.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
9/4/18 10:29 a.m.

GRM recently called the latest Hyundai Veloster "the new GTI" or similar comparison. 

I have no personal experience if this is true. Does the 3 door configuration work with the kid? 

I did see a number of them at the most recent drag night I attended. 

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/2019-hyundai-veloster-turbo-r-/142310/page1/

Edit: I now see you commented on the original post 

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/4/18 11:05 a.m.
nutherjrfan said:

Number nine. Wait Beemers actually have turn signals? indecision

Steven S Cardella
Steven S Cardella SuperDork
9/4/18 11:08 a.m.

In reply to nutherjrfan :

I was shocked myself.  Apparently they're legally required.

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
9/4/18 11:17 a.m.

BTW, there IS a GTI on my list, and it's still available.  I'll have to wait until TS Gordon is through to look at it, though.

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
9/4/18 11:19 a.m.

cough.. cough..

 

https://www.carmax.com/car/16158460

 

or

 

https://www.carmax.com/car/16300316

Those have 6spds... Flappy paddles came later and are a bit more expensive..

 

Here's one 5K over your limit.

 

https://www.carmax.com/car/16374423

 

 

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
9/4/18 11:24 a.m.

A mk7 GTI "Sport" or any one with the "Performance Pack" with a DSG would be my choice.  The big brakes off the R and a real LSD come with it (Sport is the cheapest package to get the Performance Pack by default).  

Under $25K all day long, and the rear seat will be much easier to access and have more room than an ATS.  Not sure what age your kiddo is, but if you still need to assist in buckling, the roof line of the ATS makes that a pain to lean in from the outside.  A wagon/hatch door cut line is so much easier.  

 

mk7 Golf R's are just starting to fall into the $25K range but they're still few and far between.  Since AWD isn't on the "must have" list, the GTI is better bang for the buck.  Similarly, you can also start to find the Audi S3's in that price range as well if you really don't want a hatch back.  You already had the A3 on the list, but the S3 is a much hotter combo and can be had with the fancy magnetic shocks.  Slim pickings like the R, but don't ignore it if you prefer the shape of a sedan.  It's basically a Golf R in sedan guise.   

Floating Doc
Floating Doc HalfDork
9/4/18 11:36 a.m.
nutherjrfan said:

Number nine. Wait Beemers actually have turn signals? indecision

Came here to post this!

Dave M
Dave M New Reader
9/4/18 11:52 a.m.

You came to the right place! To have everyone recommend a GTI, that is, because that is the obvious answer. Now go buy one and enjoy yourself!

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
9/4/18 11:57 a.m.

In reply to xflowgolf :

Thanks for the info.  The 1 5-door GTI I see locally looks like it's got the Autobahn trim, which includes the performance pack.  And it's got funky plaid seats.

I definitely want something that can put down power well, but I haven't really said, "I want *this* drivetrain layout."

Wiscocrashtest
Wiscocrashtest New Reader
9/4/18 12:15 p.m.

Was going to suggest Focus ST but actually think whichever GTI comes with the LSD is the best option.

Fletch1
Fletch1 Dork
9/4/18 12:15 p.m.

I'd throw in the Acura Tsx with either a 4-cyl or V6.  Both have paddle shifters.  Probably more "sporty" than sport perhaps.  The V6 hauls butt.  Peter Cunningham likes them.

Dave M
Dave M New Reader
9/4/18 1:16 p.m.

The TSX V-6 w/ AWD is pretty quick, but I wouldn't be caught dead at an autocross in it. Brakes are TERRIBLE.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
9/4/18 3:03 p.m.

In reply to scardeal :

As far as flappy-paddles go it really doesn’t get any better than VW’s DSG or Porsche’s PDK. 

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