New car shopping: compact, premium, fun-to-drive, and $30k

Discussion in 'Motorized Vehicles' started by Mitlov, Sep 5, 2020.

  1. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Hey all, the Civic Si that I've been driving for ten years is getting long in the tooth and not holding together particularly well anymore. Next year for my birthday I'm gonna get myself a new car. I'm looking for a C-segment car (compact by US terminology, midsize by UK terminology). I want a definite step up in interior quality and refinement from my Si, but I don't care either way about brand prestige. I want something that's fun-to-drive instead of just a transportation appliance, but it's not like I'm going to autocross it or anything. And I'm looking to spend about US$30k.

    I have three options that are springing out to me right now, but I'd also like input from others on these three or other options.

    Option 1: Mazda3 hatchback 6MT. The current-generation Mazda3 is a definite step above Honda/Toyota/Ford in interior quality, and I personally love the controversial looks. And I can afford it brand new, fully-loaded (it comes in about $28k).

    [​IMG]

    Option 2: Audi A3 nearly-new. I know it's just a Golf with a good interior...but that honestly sounds like a good thing. New and typically equipped, it comes in at more than I want to spend. But a base-model (180hp turbo four, dual-clutch, FWD, heated leather seats) that a dealership is selling after one year of being a dealer loaner car comes in at just under $30k.

    [​IMG]

    Option 3: Hyundai Ioniq Touring. Fully-loaded, the interior is nicer than say a comparably-equipped Hyundai Elantra, but it's admittedly a step behind the Mazda and Audi options. On the other hand, the fuel economy is incredible, the smartphone integration is second to none, and the dual-clutch transmission and agile chassis means it's decidedly more fun-to-drive than other hybrids like the Prius. Comes in at slightly over $30k fully-loaded, but the fuel savings would offset that.

    [​IMG]

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Convel

    Convel Notebook Deity

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    The Ioniq is sensible and nice enough to drive, and it has certain interior features that punch above its segment, such as the ventilated seats. Even so, I feel like it's become a bit too bland since launch, making other options more desirable. If opting for more of a driver's car from Hyundai, I'd look for a model that was developed under Albert Biermann, such as the soon-to-be-launched 2021 Sonata N-Line. Other than that, one of the most fun aspects of getting a new car is trying out all the relevant demo cars, making sure what you end up with speaks to you and doesn't ride too harshly on the tarmac you most frequently use. Good luck!
     
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  3. custom90gt

    custom90gt Doc Mod Super Moderator

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    Have you driven them all? That's always my first suggestion if you've narrowed down your search to a handful of options.
     
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  4. saturnotaku

    saturnotaku Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    I would be wary of any VW/Audi vehicle unless you get it with the longest extended warranty possible. Doubly so on the vehicle you're looking at since it was basically a rental car. Even as a dealer loaner, they get ridden hard and put away wet. If and when things break on it, you're not going to get out the door for anything less than $500 unless you have a very good independent repair shop that has mercy on you. Among used luxury cars, I'd instead look at CPO versions of the Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, or Lexus IS.

    I'm not one to harp on styling, but the Hyundai is ugly as sin. I'd sooner look at an Elantra Sport or GT, but given the company's recent recall and lawsuit troubles, I'd steer clear of them as well.

    That leaves the Mazda, and while the interior is one of the nicest in the segment, the fact that they downgraded the rear suspension to a torsion beam means it's not nearly as fun to drive as its predecessor. If you're willing to move up slightly in size, the Mazda 6 Grand Touring with the 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder is a hoot to drive. Its base MSRP squeaks in just under your budget, but since its sales pale in comparison to the likes of the Accord and Camry, dealers are usually pretty willing to discount it.
     
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  5. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    I will drive all the options before buying, but I'm not test-driving anything until next spring because (1) the pandemic right now is accelerating in Oregon, and (2) for a lot of these options, it involves driving to Portland instead of looking locally, and that's a ten-hour round trip. I want to do that once, or maybe twice (once to test-drive, once to buy), not again and again and again as I think of options.
     
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  6. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    Do you think I'm better off with a two-year-old or three-year-old A4 with a single private owner instead of a one-year-old retired courtesy car A3? Similar price.

    According to Consumer Reports, Acura is now bottom of the barrel reliability-wise and Audi is near the top (especially the A4). Things certainly have changed from a couple decades ago, and my personal experiences with Honda since the 90s matches that data. I've owned six Hondas since the mid 90s and the past ten years have probably been the brand's worst decade in its history.

    Edit: Android Auto is mandatory for me, which eliminates Infiniti and all but the newest Lexuses. Shame, because I otherwise like the Lexus IS.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  7. saturnotaku

    saturnotaku Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    I'd go for that over a loaner car, but I'd still make sure to get an extended warranty.

    I can tell you exactly why this is. Acura redesigned the RDX (its best-selling vehicle) for 2019. With it came a completely new infotainment system that a lot of people (myself included) found hard to use. When people put that on their Consumer Reports/JD Power quality surveys, it gets marked down as reliability issue, so the numbers get skewed far lower than they probably really are. The TLX is essentially a fancier Honda Accord and has been around since 2014. Android Auto became standard on the 2018 model. CPO versions with the base 4-cylinder engine (which I would recommend over the V6) and optional Technology Package that includes factory navigation and the amazing ELS co-branded audio system are listing in the mid-$20,000s.
     
  8. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

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    It's not just the 2019 RDX infotainment. The MDX is 1 out of 5 for reliability for 2017, 2018, and 2019. Lowest ranking possible, three years in a row!

    The TLX is 3 out of 5 for reliability for 2017, 2018, and 2019. Not awful but not the reputation Honda/Acura cultivated in the 1980s and 1990s either.

    For comparison, the Audi A4 gets a 5 out of 5 for reliability for 2017 and 2019, and a 4 out of 5 in 2018.
     
  9. kojack

    kojack Notebook Virtuoso

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    Since I am on the massive hybrid/electric vehicle buzz lately. I vote ionic. It's not "fun" to drive, but the milage is AWESOME. It's the polar opposite of my vehicle. My jeep wrangler gets bad milage, but there is NOTHING more fun than a Jeep Wrangler. I would look at a mildly used Tesla 3 too. I LOVE THEM!

    Note: I agree with the comments of being weary of the Audi. I have an A4 cabrio in my garage as a play toy. The transmission is giving me fits and there are many "little things" happening. It's German, well-engineered, but ultimately cantankerous. I would not buy any german car used.

    Agreed on the honda/Acura comments as well. When I was into the sport compact scene honda were the best. I had a 2000 integra which was a LS/Vtec with a supercharger on it. I had everything done with it. It was great. Now they do not inspire me at all (except the civic type R).
     

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