7/8/08 5:18 p.m.

So I have decided new cars arent so bad at all and two editorial articles in the newest issue hit close to home.

     While not very grassroots, new cars arent so bad. Particularly for a student. Moreover, I do not care about lap times, figures, or customizing my car. Im in it for the sheer hardcore reason to improve my driving, break pads and couple sets of tires is my idea of cool, not bodykits and big turbos. One day it would be nice to do this for a part time gig, and I wish we had a spec series here in Canada. I would be in H4 or SM in a heartbeat. In that respect I could relate to Tim's and David's article. I also test drove my dads brand new Si. What a fantastic car (for FF). Its not stupid fast, it doesnt brake as well as my 4 piston miata, but the power delivery is linear, suspension is tight, steering ratio is great and its comfy. I have always been a naturally aspirated guy, and I usually cheer for the little underdog.

Currently, I have 2 miatas, one was a turbo track demon...which I have not tracked once, have had only problems with and put only 3000km over the one year that I have had it. Im a student and all I do is slave for this car. So now the turbo is off, I will be putting it back on and selling both my cars, which has been difficult (both are very unique, a JDM right hand drive and a Track Rat are not easy to sell). But I absolutely have a blast driving my stock JDM car, heel-toe, turn in and the forgiving manners are a blast @ the track and on the street, I love this car, just want something newer.

It will most likely be used, and remember this is Canada. Here is what im looking for. Something sporty with 70,000km or less, preferred naturally aspirated, preferred rwd. Insurance that would be really high could be a problem. Needs to survive a real beating over the next 5 years without too many hiccups and good maintance. I have daily driven 10k front, 8k rear, so a stiff ride is far from a problem.

Here is what I have considered/looked at/crossed off (in my price range of 20-25K CAD):

Civic Si - looks decent, handles great, reliable, best 4cyl on the market, NA, low mileage (15k)...BUT front wheel drive (LSD is a plus though)

Mx5 - Im on the fence about these. They seem to really have lost the spirit of miatas, they roll and understeer like pigs, I have not driven but have not read many favorable results (I always manage to pick up some dissapointment from video/mag that reviews these in the performance aspect). Seems like an older miata can keep up with 55 less hp. Great brakes, rwd, drop top, look great with HT, low mileage. Even the MS-R package (not available here) has trouble keeping up with Solstice though??

MSM - The best handling stock miata paired with the best suspension ever released on a miata (the '99). Looks good, drop top, tossible and so much potential. Another 80 bolt on whp is a call away (FM), and this car has the toughened up engine and driveline in case I ever decide to built it up when Im done school. In my price range this would be one of the lower ones, and I have found one with 9k even. Oh, and I know how to work on these (but Im looking to avoid that :))

S2000 - This is probably what I will try to gun for. It is a logical evolution for my roadster/racing love. Its gorgeous, fast, one of the best NA motors out there (and I do love my NA), rwd, and brimming with potential and no-nonsense technology. Reliable. Great track partner, add r-compounds and some skill and porsche/ferrari hunting is possible. Only problem is prices are still relatively high, and in my price range the mileage would be 60k-80k, the highest in this group. Also insurance is a bit high.

Solstice - Everything thats great about the miata plus slightly faster? I have not seen too many problems reliability wise, but it is a pontiac...GXP is out of the picture simply because of the price.

Rx8 - Have driven. Fantastic car. Great chassis, great brakes. Not too much power, but I know for a fact that with handling tweaks these can embarass sheetmetal with 200hp more. Seats 4, and super comfy. (In fact, the Si reminded me of a toned down Rx8 in respect to handling, breaks and engine). These are also the cheapest of all of the cars mentioned here, I can find one for 16K$ with mileage below 50k. But, I have heard mixed reports about reliability, the gas mileage is horrid but insurance is low (considered a 4-door, low displacement engine, family sedan).

350z - These are priced somewhere between the s2000 and the Rx8 for the mileage. I dont know if its my kind of car, seems a big and heavy and did I mention big (whereas I have been racing rwd chick cars and loving it). I have hear mixed reviews about the reliability. And this car is compared to the rx8 a lot, and while it wins on paper, the rx8 is always quoted for the better driver and feel (very important for me, as I have really come to appreciate that from the miata). But it does look good, and the tourquey NA motor would be nice, supposedly these can take quite a beating as well. Better mileage than the rx8 but Im sure the insurance would hit me pretty hard. Although If I could find a track package (with those nice brembos) in my price range....

MS3 - Still too expensive around here. Plus the tourque steer would drive me insane, I hate fighting my car throughout a turn. Overpower FF = meh

stumpmj HalfDork
7/9/08 7:16 a.m.

I've got a 2004 350Z that I bought new. It's been dead reliable with 48k miles and around 40 track days. I went with an Enthusiast model (base plus HID and Limited slip) and added a Stoptech big brake kit. I don't konw what they go for on the used market but this was about $9000 than the track version would have been including the cost of the brake kit. I've added aftermarket sway bars and wheels/tires to mine in addition to the brakes. I ran around 1:35 at Grattan this spring on 3 year old (way heat cycled) street tires. On R coumpds I believe I was in the 1:32 range a couple of years ago.

Right now the shocks are worn out and being replaced with Konis and I broke a rear sway bar endlink at my last track day (new parts are already installed). I've been getting around 25-28 mpg in regular street driving.

Regarding insurance, my payments went down by $800 per year going froma Legacy station wagon to the Z. Check with your insurance company to see what the rates are on all these cars before you make assumptions.

amg_rx7 New Reader
7/9/08 11:15 a.m.

MX5 add some springs to improve the handling. Maybe some sway bars also.

RX8 is also a great combo street/track car.

I had the MSM. Didn't like it b/ of the narrow turbo power band and the 6 speed manual tranny didn't feel all that great.

350 is big and heavy feeling - not my style S2000 is OK but never been a fan of the styling. The handling isn't as forgiving as the 8 or MX5.

A roomy FWD car isn't a bad deal for a student. I drove a VW Scirocco through college. It was roomy with plenty of easy access from the hatch, good MPG and Ok on track. Sold it and got an RX7 Turbo II once I graduated college and got a job. No point in going into debt while in school for a car.

Salanis Dork
7/9/08 11:28 a.m.

Why not a lightly used 328i or 330i? You might even be able to get a Z4 in that range.

S2000's are very nice. Sounds like just what you're looking for, but insurance is an issue. I went with an M Coupe' because I could get one cheaper than an S2000, and my insurance is about cut almost in half.

What about a Subaru?

ignorant SuperDork
7/9/08 12:27 p.m.

A hatch is a perfect student car. Moving is easy and quick. Holds lots of beer too.

GlennS HalfDork
7/9/08 12:37 p.m.

could always consider a GTO if you dont mind 400hp

P90Puma Reader
7/9/08 12:42 p.m.
GlennS wrote: could always consider a GTO if you dont mind 400hp

Yes, they recently became importable to Canada, but I would go with an EVO over a GTO.

HoonerZX3 New Reader
7/9/08 12:46 p.m.

This may not matter to you, but I knew a guy who loved autox and was very accomplished in the sport. He bought an S2000 and sold it less than two years later. The reason was the unforgiving ride. As a daily driver they beat you up a lot apparently. Just an FYI.

rwdsport New Reader
7/9/08 7:40 p.m.
HoonerZX3 wrote: This may not matter to you, but I knew a guy who loved autox and was very accomplished in the sport. He bought an S2000 and sold it less than two years later. The reason was the unforgiving ride. As a daily driver they beat you up a lot apparently. Just an FYI.

Like I said, Im very used to an unforgiving ride. 10kg/mm front and 8kg/mm rear with revalved race shocks = about as unforgiving as you can push for a street car. So I do not think that would be a problem...are Evos (Vll and Vlll?) and Gtos legal in Canada now?! When did this happen . Although a GTO would be way too big of a car, I like the corners, not the straights...

I dont really need to move too much, or carry a lot of people, I was just really impressed with the civic. Insurance is brutal in Canada, think 2500$ per year for a newer car. 5000$ for an STI. Have not checked on an s2000, but I assume it will be brutal. The problem with the beemers, is Im weary of expensive parts, and I have learned that its safer to stay away from a beemer, especially one off of warranty. And Im leaning more towards rwd and trying to stay away from the boost. I want to be able to drive a car within an inch of its life/limit, not survive each lap. I found the boosted miata to be quick, but a handfull, and midcorner correction gets difficult because of the lag. Kinda feels like you gambling half the time instead of being fully in control.

Now researching the MX5, looks promising and not as bad as I thought before.

7/9/08 8:07 p.m.

Thought about a C4 Corvette? Parts would be easier to come by and cheaper than a European car.

rwdsport New Reader
7/9/08 10:58 p.m.

It needs to be nearly brand new. And I do not want to work on it or fix problems.

JohnGalt New Reader
7/9/08 11:31 p.m.

I will throw in my vote for the RX8. Its the one i got. One of the best handling cars i have ever driven and definitely fun on any road. Wins B stock every year. Since you enjoy your NA miata i think you will be all right with the power the RX8 has. The only real downside is gas millage. The only cars that have any significant number of problems were the 04's. They also just retroactively extended the power train warranty to 8 years 100,000 miles on all cars. That should give you some peace of mind.

sanman New Reader
7/10/08 12:32 a.m.

I would definitely say s2000 or RX8. How about a Mini Cooper S?

7/14/08 4:45 p.m.

hm, it seems i am looking for exactly the same thing as the OP, so i will throw in some other options i was thinking about.

what about a mk4 VW? you can get a 1.8t jetta gli or wolfsburg and perhaps install new swaybars to "correct" the understeer?

a focus svt seems like a great alternative but they are a little ugly in my opinion. although maybe driving one would help get past the looks (much like meeting a girl who turns out to have a "good personality")

ultimately i keep going back to a 99-00 bmw 328i. they seem to be selling for ~$10k and although maintenance may be pricey, i think a well-maintained one is relatively solid.

ProDarwin Dork
7/14/08 5:56 p.m.
rwdsport wrote: Needs to survive a real beating over the next 5 years without too many hiccups and good maintance.

Civic Si + coilovers. Good power, good handling, good gas mileage, rock solid reliable. I prefer the looks of the 4 door.

rwdsport New Reader
7/16/08 6:29 p.m.
sanman wrote: I would definitely say s2000 or RX8. How about a Mini Cooper S?

Not a big fan of the cooper, and much like the s2000, they hold their value very well. I really like the rx-8, and the low insurance and the lack of needing to run premium would easily offset the poor mileage. Its just I get very mixed stories about reliabilty. Granted, if you are an idiot and do not realise the oil requirments of the rotary, I can see why a few would blow up. The rx-8 also seats four, is dirt cheap (relatively) and sounds and hadles great.


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