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lemachin
lemachin New Reader
3/18/22 9:22 p.m.

Hello GRM,

I have listed my NB Miata for sale, having decided that I want something with more power but am not willing to turn my only car into a project - not having the space to keep more than one car, and recognizing that a housing/garage upgrade seems to be completely out of the question in this market. Thus I am on the market for a new-to-me car, and I would like y'all to help me think out loud.

 

User Profile: Lives downtown, one parking spot only, no private garage space. Does not need a car for the commute. Primary use of the car: sunday drives, road trips, and about a dozen HPDE events a year. Occasional autocross for old times' sake. Willing to make some modifications (of the "OEM+" sort) but prefer reliability and ease of use.  Budget: about $30k CAD for a new-ish car, maybe $15k cash for something older (i.e. not-financed.) 

 

Candidates:

- 2015+ BRZ. The leading candidate. I've driven them and really like the chassis. I prefer the Subaru's looks over the FRS. Not a huge fan of a boxer motor but I can live with it. Suppose I add oiling/reliability mods and call it a day? Used-car prices on these are high, though - high enough that I'm considering the next car on my list... 

- 2022+ GR86. Ideal candidate, if I can find one, but not keen on waiting a year for delivery, also not sure what kind of markup to expect. 

- BMW F22 228i. I like small BMWs and the 228i form factor seems great. Critical opinion seems divided on these - what does GRM think? Sport package (seats) mandatory. I understand there's a Track Handling package out there but I've never seen one in the wild. This car screams for an LSD, though, plus possibly the same modifications as the earlier E82 for camber & weird wheel offsets.

- BMW E82 128i or 135i. A nicely optioned/modified 128i was the dream for a while. I'm even coming around to the 135, supposing the famed reliability problems are now known and (mostly) solvable. These cars are getting older, though, and demand a number of modifications to handle as they should.

- ND Miata. This likely stretches my budget, but an RF could be nice. Is it about the same level of (im)practicality as an NB? Enough storage space for car-camping if I pack light?

- 10th-gen Civic Si. I had a student in one of these a couple years ago and was super impressed by the car. Feels little less "special" than all the other rear-wheel-drive coupes on this list, though. 

- S197 Mustang. These are a mystery to me but ZOO recommended them and it certainly seems like an obvious go-fast / do anything option. Not sure I like the outward visibility though, and not sure a V8 or big V6 is the way to go with gas prices looking the way they are...

 

There are lots of other cars on my dream shopping list - a Cayman or Boxster? C5 Z06? E46 M3? RX8? - but I am really emphasizing the dual-duty one-car solution: something that is capable+reliable on track and able to drive ~1400km to Nova Scotia in December. 

Of the options on my list, what do you think? Any obvious choices I'm missing? Thanks in advance.

Toyman!
Toyman! MegaDork
3/18/22 10:11 p.m.

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is on my short list. Might stretch the budget a little though.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
3/18/22 10:33 p.m.

Any of those would work well. 

My 2022 BRZ is a blast at the track. To be honest though, an early twin with a 2.4L swap would be 95% of the same car. I am no expert on the electronics but the physical part looks super simple. Side by side I only saw a handful of differences. 

The 128I would be a lot of fun too. 

P3PPY
P3PPY GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/18/22 11:09 p.m.

I have but one song to play: Z4

Puddy46
Puddy46 New Reader
3/18/22 11:10 p.m.

The Mk7 GTI has been great as a jack of all trades car for me, including being a fun autocross car.  

ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter)
ae86andkp61 (Forum Supporter) Dork
3/19/22 12:09 a.m.

My user profile matches yours closely (I'm lucky enough to also have additional off-site parking/project car space) and I also don't need a car to commute. The car that lives in my parking space at my downtown condo is my FR-S. I'm tempted by the siren song of the 2022 GR86, but the older car is still a blast. Comfy enough on a road trip, fun on the track, fun for autocross, and fun for just exploring back roads. Sure, the engine isn't the best feature of the car, but I feel like that has more to do with it being a fantastic chassis with a decent engine, rather than the terrible engine that some try to imply.

I've also had good luck with engine reliability and my oil sample testing comes back with no red flags (knock on wood.) I don't have any oiling system mods. I do change oil frequently. I only do occasional trackdays, and prefer tighter/twistier tracks. I do drive with mechanical sympathy. I don't hit the rev limiter (concern about limiter setting up oscillations in the valve train which contribute to failure) and I don't live in a hot climate or flog it in super hot weather. YMMV.

lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter)
lotusseven7 (Forum Supporter) Dork
3/19/22 9:18 a.m.

My fiancée's DD for the last bunch of years is an Audi S3. It's truly a fun car and when you engage Dynamic mode, it's a freakin rocket! 4-doors but a bit "narrow" in the cockpit and unless the backseat passenger is 6'+, it's adequate for short trips. We've taken it on a few 4+ hour trips and the seats are comfortable/sporty but not exactly road-trip worthy for much longer. Hers has 50k miles and not a single trip back to the dealership for anything but oil changes and schedules services, no mechanical issues at all. Now, she's an accountant and really only drives it from the garage here at home to work 5 miles away, no funny business. The extent of her having fun "driving" the car is stepping on the gas for 3 seconds to pass someone, so it's really been babied it's whole life. I would love to take it to a trackday/HPDE event, but it's hers and not the reason we bought it. 
 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
3/19/22 9:48 a.m.

Frisbee variant or 86 gets my vote.

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
3/19/22 1:01 p.m.
P3PPY said:

I have but one song to play: Z4

Make that a duet. The E85/86 is an excellent choice whether in convert or coupe form and regardless of whether you get the regular or M version.  Decent amount of trunk space, starts out with decent handling and can easily be improved   I have the Z4M coupe version and love it for cross country or short trips.

lemachin
lemachin New Reader
3/20/22 6:54 p.m.

Thanks for the feedback, all!

- The Z4 is an interesting proposition I hadn't considered! I do like the look of the coupe, but all the coupes I can find are M models outside my price range. I don't think I want to go through the trouble of adding rollover protection to a (non-Miata) convertible.

- Q60, definitely an unexpected option. They don't seem to appear in my price range, though - and not particularly my style, personally.

-  S3s are lovely, but I think this leans a little too much into "premium daily driver to enjoy under warranty" territory and away from "robust trackable car" territory.

- GTIs I initially dismissed for the same reasons as the S3 + standard-issue doubts about VAG reliability and service costs, but then I found one locally that seems really nice. May give it a try! Does anyone have comparative experience of the Mk7 vs. the recent Civic Si? 

 

I spent much of the weekend car-shopping. Best available candidates at the moment - in addition to the above-mentioned Mk7 GTI - are a nicely optioned 2020 BRZ and a 2016 228i with a bunch of M-Sport packages. BRZ remains the leading candidate owing to my experiences of them & the GRM hive's endorsement. BMW continues to tantalize with its more "mature" appearance and promising motor. Does anyone know much about the N20 engines? 

racerfink
racerfink UltraDork
3/20/22 7:13 p.m.

ATS 2.0t with manual trans.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/20/22 7:27 p.m.

I went with a '17 86 for pretty much the same use:

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/reader-rides/17090/

It's very nearly as quick as the ND but a lot more practical, also nearly as quick as the latest-gen Toyobaru at half the cost (and it's easier on the eyes IMO). Mind you I'd ruled out FWD cars because I already had one and specifically wanted something RWD.

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
3/20/22 7:55 p.m.

I own a 128i and an ND2 RF, so I can offer something on those two.

The 128i is really, really good, especially once you get the suspension upgraded. You're a weekend's work and a couple grand from excellent (that's M3/1M control arms, Eibachs, Konis, and poly rear subframe bushing inserts, plus an alignment). Yes, they're getting old, but if you can find a good one (Sport package is mandatory for the seats, or plan to swap) they're the last of the proper BMWs: incredibly versatile, great handling, and plenty fast for road use. I haven't tracked mine, but there's no reason to think it would be anything but good (if perhaps a bit underpowered among more modern stuff). As I'm sure you know, the problem is finding the right one, and it might take a lot of time to do that.

The ND2 is everything it's cracked up to be, but practical is not high on that list of attributes. You could probably manage car camping with careful packing (my GF and I did a week-long road trip in mine last year), but it's always going to be tight. On the plus side, it gets great mileage, it's tiny, and really playful. You can get it with a real LSD from the factory. You'd want to address the body roll before any serious track time, but otherwise the suspension seems well-sorted. I love mine, but if it was my only car it would be tricky.

The new 86 seems to be really well-regarded, and since you liked the earlier one, it seems like the leading candidate from your list. But I wouldn't trade my 128i for one.

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
3/20/22 8:22 p.m.

Since you're in Canada, I would buy the cleanest Lancer GSR Evolution V that I could get my hands on. They're pretty much the same as the legendary Evo VI, but without the "Tommi Makinen tax." I think they look a bit better as well. As soon as they hit 25 years old, the prices will skyrocket. For now, you should be able to find one for $15k CAD.

I ran an Evo VIII when I lived in Montreal 15-20 years ago. It's the perfect car. Practical 4-door family car with a full trunk. AWD and ABS systems work well: phenomenal traction in all conditions. Zero understeer. With snow tires, it's unstoppable. Unlike Subarus, they're dead reliable as long as you flush the fluids regularly. The ergonomics are excellent: seats, shifter, steering wheel, pedal placement, and outward visibility are miles ahead of any modern car. Take it to Tremblant and Mosport and you'll leave everyone for dead.

Moreover, Evos are one of the very few cars that offer a genuinely unique driving feel. There's a "tiptoe" sensation to Evos: the front end is hypersensitive and the rear feels almost unstable; like the whole car is ready to rotate ... but it never bites you. There's SO much feedback through the wheel and the chassis that you are always 100% in control. Once it "takes a set" and the suspension loads up, the grip is there. And  between the way the engine is tuned and the very short gearing, acceleration out of corners is explosive. There's nothing like it. And the Evo V is probably the best of the bunch.

calteg
calteg Dork
3/21/22 12:52 p.m.

In reply to LanEvo :

Agree on all points. The Evo is one of those cars that makes you look like a hero at the track, but it does so without digital driving "aides." They're absolutely brilliant cars, and on my short list of cars to own and keep before prices skyrocket (any more)

seadoorider
seadoorider New Reader
3/21/22 1:48 p.m.

Just stopped in to comment on the S197 Mustang suggestion- being past and current Mustang owner and fan of big American iron in general, I don it think this is your car. I would recommend for you as a toy if you had a commuter car but to be honest the Mustang is fairly big and thirsty. One of my cars is a 2012 with the 3.7 and frankly the V6 is more of a beast than you'd expect but tends to drink fuel like a 300hp engine when doing anything other than steady highway cruise in 6th gear OD. Great car and lots of potential but if compact size and fuel economy are too concerns this ain't your bag IMO

kevinatfms
kevinatfms GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/21/22 2:02 p.m.

Civic Si or the FRZ/BRS from your choices. 

Others - Fiesta ST, Focus ST, Veloster R-spec, VW GTI(gotta get the performance pack),  Nissan Sentra Turbo/Sentra Nismo, Elantra N-line

The FWD hatchbacks can be UBER fun and can store a ridiculous amount of stuff in the hatch. You can even fold the seats down and use it as a makeshift tent. My Fiesta ST is beyond fun on track, been dead nuts reliable and can fit an elephant worth of crap back there. A Focus ST would have a ton more room though and has a good amount of power over the Fiesta. It is also easier to find one with Recaros versus the Fiesta. I also spent a good amount of time in a Veloster R-spec and loved every minute of it. Seats are super comfortable, engine is peppy and it had a great amount of tech included in the base price. That was my first choice up until i drove the ST twins. I ended up with a Fiesta ST after driving them all and havent regretted my decision. 

 

Aspen
Aspen HalfDork
3/21/22 2:30 p.m.
lemachin said:

Thanks for the feedback, all!

- The Z4 is an interesting proposition I hadn't considered! I do like the look of the coupe, but all the coupes I can find are M models outside my price range. I don't think I want to go through the trouble of adding rollover protection to a (non-Miata) convertible.

- Q60, definitely an unexpected option. They don't seem to appear in my price range, though - and not particularly my style, personally.

-  S3s are lovely, but I think this leans a little too much into "premium daily driver to enjoy under warranty" territory and away from "robust trackable car" territory.

- GTIs I initially dismissed for the same reasons as the S3 + standard-issue doubts about VAG reliability and service costs, but then I found one locally that seems really nice. May give it a try! Does anyone have comparative experience of the Mk7 vs. the recent Civic Si? 

 

I spent much of the weekend car-shopping. Best available candidates at the moment - in addition to the above-mentioned Mk7 GTI - are a nicely optioned 2020 BRZ and a 2016 228i with a bunch of M-Sport packages. BRZ remains the leading candidate owing to my experiences of them & the GRM hive's endorsement. BMW continues to tantalize with its more "mature" appearance and promising motor. Does anyone know much about the N20 engines? 

The n20 timing guides were mostly fixed by 2016.  There are a few other issue perhaps.  You can get an LSD fitted for about $4k CDN.  The 228i is much heavier than the twins so hurts track and autox, but is a much better driving car with a real back seat.

fatallightning
fatallightning Reader
3/22/22 12:45 p.m.

If you're moving on from the Miata for more power, are FRS/BRZ notably quicker? Unless it's more a backseat thing.

engiekev
engiekev HalfDork
3/22/22 1:21 p.m.
LanEvo said:

Since you're in Canada, I would buy the cleanest Lancer GSR Evolution V that I could get my hands on. They're pretty much the same as the legendary Evo VI, but without the "Tommi Makinen tax." I think they look a bit better as well. As soon as they hit 25 years old, the prices will skyrocket. For now, you should be able to find one for $15k CAD.

This is the answer, JDM Evos came with AYC (starting with Evo 4), which didnt come on any US market Evos until the Evo X.  It adds another dimension to the AWD system that is essentially torque vectoring.

And, when it does become eligible, sell it to GRM members at a discount (put me down first) ;).  But really, that would be a crazy good investment, easy money, if 5's havent already started to ramp up since 25yrs is getting closer.

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
3/22/22 2:21 p.m.

NC Miata + Blackbird Fabworx roll bar.

LanEvo
LanEvo Dork
3/23/22 12:53 p.m.

In reply to engiekev :

Evo IV prices have jumped since they hit the 25-year mark. Two years ago, you could get one for $9-10k. Now they're $25-35k even for rough examples. The Evo V will hit 25 next year. Last chance to grab one.

engiekev
engiekev HalfDork
3/23/22 2:25 p.m.
LanEvo said:

In reply to engiekev :

Evo IV prices have jumped since they hit the 25-year mark. Two years ago, you could get one for $9-10k. Now they're $25-35k even for rough examples. The Evo V will hit 25 next year. Last chance to grab one.

I'm in Detroit, not far from Windsor and Bonsai Rides is a great importer from what I've heard.  There's still the whole pesky Canada border crossing issue, otherwise I'd buy one and store it my friend's cabin in Canada, solid investment.

Are you finding these on Kijiji for already imported cars in Canada, or are you going off recent auction prices?

lemachin
lemachin New Reader
3/23/22 3:02 p.m.
fatallightning said:

If you're moving on from the Miata for more power, are FRS/BRZ notably quicker? Unless it's more a backseat thing.

Good point. I'm not chasing power so much as trying to make up the gap to the slowest cars I typically encounter in my lapping group. The Miata is a great HPDE car and I enjoy momentum driving, but it's gotten to the point that everything else has so much more power it's hard to get a point-by. Not trying to set lap records or anything - just want to keep up with traffic & maybe chase my friends for more than one corner complex before they dust me.

I'm enjoying the Evo V comments (the description of its "tiptoe" dynamics was fantastic)  but there is no way I'm getting into a 20+ year old Japanese import - let alone as an investment. However I have been looking at a holiday in Japan since cancelling one back in 2020, and this very much reminds me there's an Evo VI TME available for rental on the Hakone mountain passes...

On FWD hatches - I do love a Fiesta ST, and should have included that in my list. I was actually on my way to check out a FiST in Montreal two years ago when I saw my current NB Miata for sale and bought it on a whim. There are still a few on my watchlist, but none that have really "moved me" as they did in the past.

I think at this point it's down to the BRZ and the 228i. I have one of each in my sights, both 2016 models with ~80k on the odo. My ultimate feeling on the matter seems to depend on how I've slept, as every morning I'm waking up with a different conclusion. Spectacular chassis vs. turbo power. Boy racer vs. yuppie vibes. FA20 headaches vs. modern BMW headaches.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/22 3:32 p.m.

An FA20 can be made reliable in NA form for well under a grand:

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/how-to-get-started-modifying-a/192574/page1/

'12-'16 models will also need an aftermarket cam plate to fix the leak there. You might want to consider going to the '17-'20 model which comes with some reliability fixes and a shorter diff ratio - one downside of this model is that it's much harder to give it a flex fuel setup though.

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