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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for thoughts on the best cars out there that are fast and fun to drive, with at least 4 seats, decent reliability, and a good amount of tech/ luxury features. Obviously newer and lower miles are better, and unique/ rare would be nice. Manual is slightly preferred but autos and dual clutch have come a long way, and I'm getting older, so it's really not as big a deal anymore (sorry!).

My intended use would be primarily a daily driver, but I'm not doing much driving now, and the wife has an SUV so it doesn't need a ton of space. It would also be nice if I could take it to the track a few times a year.

Here's what I've been considering so far: Audi S3, S4, S5, Golf R, Camaro SS, Mustang GT, Focus RS, BMW M3 (E90), 340i, C63 AMG, CTS-V (2009-2013), Veloster N, Lancer Evolution, wildcard: Jaguar XF-R

I know this is a wide range of cars, but I am just looking for something livable and fun as a daily that will actually be worth taking to the track a few times a year, and that preferably won't break down all the time or lose too much value either.

I kinda prefer sleepers but flashy bits like loud colors or a wing don't bother me either unless they're over the top and juvenile (e.g. Civic Type R).

Also I really don't like the Camaro and Mustang due to seating position, visibility, and interior quality. So while they may be some of the best performers on this list, I think the pony cars are out.

Finally, another couple options are: 1) to keep my current mk6 Jetta as a daily driver, and upgrade my 996TT to a 997TT :) but I'd probably end up taking the Jetta to the track in that scenario, 2) keep the Jetta (and the 996TT) and get a dedicated track car, like maybe a C5 or C6 Corvette.

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Here's what I've been considering so far: Audi S3, S4, S5, Golf R, Camaro SS, Mustang GT, Focus RS, BMW M3 (E90), 340i, C63 AMG, CTS-V (2009-2013), Veloster N, Lancer Evolution, wildcard: Jaguar XF-R

I know this is a wide range of cars, but I am just looking for something livable and fun as a daily that will actually be worth taking to the track a few times a year, and that preferably won't break down all the time or lose too much value either.

 

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Other than luxury, a BRZ fits the bill pretty well. A new GTI would also do it, with a bit less track prowess/fun but more luxury/tech. New WRX might split that difference (and they hold value pretty well).You already have a 996TT- is that not track worthy?

You are squeezing the balloon on that budget. You going to get some combination of sporty, interior space, tech, luxury, and track ability, and reliability, but not all those at once at the price point.
 

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It's funny OP, I'm on the hunt for the same car, same budget. Right now E90 M3 Coupe (preferably manual but not deal breaker) is on top of the list. Another one to consider is the MB C450, basically a C43 AMG but not built in Germany. They only made them for one year....nice car and very quick.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Other than luxury, a BRZ fits the bill pretty well. A new GTI would also do it, with a bit less track prowess/fun but more luxury/tech. New WRX might split that difference (and they hold value pretty well).You already have a 996TT- is that not track worthy?

You are squeezing the balloon on that budget. You going to get some combination of sporty, interior space, tech, luxury, and track ability, and reliability, but not all those at once at the price point.
I understand it's always going to be a compromise in at least one aspect. The BRZ is ok, but I feel like it's low on power.
You have a Porsche, but want to take a Jetta to the track? Am I reading that right?
The 996TT can go on the track but it's really more of a grand touring car. I also really don't want to mod it heavily or beat on it too much or break stuff or stuff it into a wall.

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For balance sake, front engine-rear drive obviously so a BRZ would check the box for sure. Thought about a 1-series or a 2-series? Fun little cars, decent interiors, good balance. The AWD cars are going to understeer for sure, and if you're really not that into a pony car, I think you'd be happy with something small and "tossable".
 

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Mustang GT is the fastest and coolest on that list.
 

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American muscle is the way to go in this scenario. Or a miata. Either one with mods.


To the other dude talking about owning a porsche and wanting to track a jetta: my track car is a corrado and I own a 997. I can walk away from totalling the corrado and it would have zero impact on my life. The 997 is worth way more money. I can't afford to total the 997.

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Just because I hate new cars... how about this:


This was a low mileage GSR, 5spd... no rust... 30+mpg, fun AF to drive, reliable, parts are cheap, maintenance is easy, visibility and tossability is just not possible in today's cars. They're really fun cars, even in stock form. I had this exact car, same colors, except mine the SE, so GSR suspension and interior but no VTEC.
 

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If you didn’t already have a 996 Turbo, I’d say a 987. But I think the real issue is that 30k gets you a used luxury sports sedan or a brand new BRZ/Miata. Sure you can get an E90 M3, but what happens when you need throttle body actuators or rod bearings? That’s just as an example.

If you’re really planning on taking the car to the track, even a few times, I just feel like an 86/Miata would be so much lower stress. 215 width tires, cheap brakes, etc. If track days aren’t really gonna happen, then have at it for whatever is on the list?
 

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Sure you can get an E90 M3, but what happens when you need throttle body actuators or rod bearings?
I had my 2011 e92 m3 until almost 50k miles and didn't need either. If you feel nervous, you spend an additional 3k and get the bearings done. Though cars with with bearing replacements are out there. TAs are far less of an issue. If they act up, spend $500 and get rebuilt replacements that are better than new. TAs aren't an issue any longer. Though if you can't afford $500 for the pair, none of the cars in question are for you.

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Your budget falls right along the lines of a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO MR with very decent miles. They are exceptional buy-n-race track cars.
 

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E90 M3 vs Evo X would be my votes.

Oddball sleeper option would be an MQB A3 with a few mods. They're cheap and not slow with an intercooler and tune. You'd have enough money in the budget to actually put good suspension/tires on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
It's funny OP, I'm on the hunt for the same car, same budget. Right now E90 M3 Coupe (preferably manual but not deal breaker) is on top of the list. Another one to consider is the MB C450, basically a C43 AMG but not built in Germany. They only made them for one year....nice car and very quick.
Thanks for the tip on the C450. It looks like it really ticks a lot of boxes!
Mmm... brown on brown




What about the new Nissan 400z. Sleek looks, rwd, and manual!
Will this even have 4 seats?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thought about a 1-series or a 2-series? Fun little cars, decent interiors, good balance. The AWD cars are going to understeer for sure, and if you're really not that into a pony car, I think you'd be happy with something small and "tossable".
I used to have a 135i with lots of great upgrades, and I should've kept it. I was looking at some modded 335i's recently too.
 
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