Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fun Car Shopping - The Contenders

We've been linking to YouTube video reviews of some of the cars that are being considered for our Fun Car Shopping challenge.

These aren't the only cars in contention for -our- hard earned dollars, but give you an idea what you can get into for significantly under the 30k average new car price.

For instance, we have seen one example of a Pontiac Solstice GXP coupe for $22k...for a car that was build in very limited numbers and could be considered a future classic (potential a down-side if you plan to really drive a car from this list).

A Solstice GXP or its Saturn twin Sky Redline, both in convertible forms, fall in the mid-teens and are often un-molested (but have a fairly limited selection of performance parts to choose from - if you plan to not leave your sports machine stock).

On the more expensive side of the spectrum, you can get into a real track warrior like the Lotus Elise for mid-20k money.  Just plan to have access to another, less hard edged, car for longer drives.

In between there are cars like the perennial Mazda MX-5 (offered in both soft and hard-top in the  newer models) for high-teens money.  Honda's S2000 is available in our target price-range and has a bit more room than the Mazda and is a bit sportier still.

Finally, in this initial list, for those looking for more practicality and less wind in your hair, there's the Mazda RX-8.  The only car to offer the quirkiness of the Wankel rotary engine, the RX-8 has a screaming 9k redline as well as seating for 4 normal sized humans.  Just be prepared for the other quirks of rotary ownership...namely a thirst for petrochemicals in their various forms.  Getting into the 20's in mpg is considered a badge of honor in the rotary world.  Rotaries also, much like a 2-stroke piston engine, burn oil as part of their normal operation.  Accept these thirsts, and the RX can be a great all-rounder for someone who wants a sports car but has a family to consider.  Additionally, the RX is offered in normal and R3 trims (2009-2011 models only) that allows you to choose a more sedate drive vs a more track-focused model.

So, in the coming weeks, we will be trying to get seat time in some of these models and write more in-depth reviews to help identify each model's strengths and weaknesses.

Enjoy the ride.

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