ea_sport Reader
2/24/20 3:00 p.m.

Hi all, another what car thread here. My son can't wait to get his learners permit in May and I'm wondering what would be a good car for him. Based on the budget and fun car factor we're thinking about getting a Mk6 GTI, preferably 2 door and definitely with stick shift. But then I figured may be I should tap into the wealth of knowledge here to make sure that we didn't miss other fun alternatives. Here are the criteria:

1. Stick shift and preferably 2 door. The reason for stick shift is not only because it's more fun to drive but also to reduce the temptation to text and drive. Same idea about 2 door variant, less space = less distraction from less number of kids in the car. 

2. Somewhat reliable and not a money pit.

3. Somewhat safe (at least side curtain and front airbag)

4. Budget no more than $8k - $9k and not too old. Probably from 2009-2012ish. 

What else should we be looking for based the criteria above? Thanks all. 

mr2s2000elise Dork
2/24/20 3:03 p.m.

Si Coupe




John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/24/20 3:09 p.m.

Scion TC is not really that sporty but in general it is a 2 dr Camry hatch offered with a manual added to the same 2.4L engine  

First body made from 2005-2010

Updated body from 2011-2016

ea_sport Reader
2/24/20 4:04 p.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

Si Coupe




Not sure why I didn't think of CRZ. Can you get BRZ for less than 10k?


How does the CRZ drive and will the hybrid battery need to be replaced at certain interval/mileage like the Prius battery?

ea_sport Reader
2/24/20 5:20 p.m.

In reply to 68TR250 :

Mileage and more info please? It's a bit far from me tho..I'm in Metro DC area..

Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand New Reader
2/24/20 7:52 p.m.

Honda Civic coupe.  Wonderful car and reliability is unquestionable.  Huge fuel economy and not particularly fast.  Kids think they are cool so it's the perfect recipe.

lnlds Reader
2/24/20 8:02 p.m.

BMW 328i coupe or 128i if you can find one. Well within budget even if you farm out some of the work, rwd, hydraulic steering, Naturally aspirated I-6, safe, and backseats suck.

CyberEric HalfDork
2/24/20 8:22 p.m.

I believe that’s the first time anyone here described a MINI as reliable and not a money pit. Usually it’s the opposite. 

I’d be looking at Civic Si coupes. 

I like the idea of the TC a lot, but that 2.4 motor is known to have issues if I remember right. I have one in my Camry, and I like the way it performs fine enough, but I’d be weary of coolant and oil consumption. And the MPGs aren’t anything to celebrate.

Feedyurhed UltraDork
2/25/20 6:30 a.m.

I think Honda is your answer here. Specifically the Civic Si coupe as previously mentioned. Problem solved. Enjoy.

clutchsmoke UltraDork
2/25/20 7:43 a.m.

CRZ is perfect. No back seats, good mpg, fun enough, and stick shift. Keep this one in the GRM family!

I suspect insurance is going to be a killer on the GTI and Si. I would guess the CRZ is cheaper.

ProDarwin UltimaDork
2/25/20 8:10 a.m.

lol, its not often you see someone describe a Mini as reliable.  Maybe you should cross shop BiTurbos.


BRZ is the answer


A Civic Si Coupe offers no advantages over the 4 door.  If you are trying to reduce the # of passengers, you need a 2 seater, not a 2 door.  Same with a GTI and other 2-door variants of 4 door cars.  Plus the doors are huge and a pain in the ass.

ebelements Reader
2/25/20 9:32 a.m.

The newest manual Toyota Corolla you can afford.

Reliable, cheap, safe, good MPGs, ubiquitous. Consumables and parts are cheap. Kids destroy their first car. It's almost as sexy as carpet shopping, so your son will have to focus on his personality to get dates.

If you don't think the personality thing is gonna happen though, grab something weird and JDM from Japanese Classics or Duncan Imports. Sure it doesn't have airbags, but the amount of focus learning stick and driving something RHD pretty much eliminates any worry about texting.

chaparral Dork
2/25/20 10:21 a.m.

ATSes have depreciated that far.

wspohn Dork
2/25/20 12:11 p.m.

Mazda 3, preferably the Sport (the kids seem to like the look and space)

CyberEric HalfDork
2/25/20 2:21 p.m.

In reply to clutchsmoke :

Great points. I vote CR-Z.

I believe 90% of the trouble I got into in cars as a teen was related to showing off for friends in the car.

ea_sport Reader
2/25/20 6:46 p.m.

Thanks for the suggestions guys..he didn't like the Civic Si or CRZ suggestions but we settled on trying to find the least molested and cleanest CRX type S that we can find. It's Honda reliable with no timing belt to change, hatch back, stick shift, useless back seat and some styling. Plus it's cheap enough that I probably won't feel too bad about minor body damages. And it has front and side airbags. The problem will be finding a clean one. I found a 2005 RSX type S with 99kmiles locally and it seems stock except for a big dent on the trunk that supposedly came from falling tree branches. What would be a fair price for one with that mileage and condition? Any specific problems I need to keep an eye on?

glueguy GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/25/20 7:01 p.m.

You better check insurance before he gets set on that. I suspect it will be way high. 

lnlds Reader
2/26/20 1:13 a.m.

3rd gear grind is supposed to be an issue with those transmissions

Our Preferred Partners