Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Cars - Toys or Transportation

As of late I cannot get cars out of my head. For some reason its been dominating my thoughts. Here's my situation I have a 2002 Nissan Altima 3.5 SE V6, loaded to the max with 5 speed transmission. It's got 4 doors but it is faster then stink, actually it's stupid fast, it corners incredibly well. It has a huge interior, huge trunk and it is one of the best looking family cars on the market. But I guess there is where lies the problem with this car it is a big family car. I do not have a family, well not per se, I do not have kids or stollers or the bitchy wife. I have a family but that consists of a girl friend named chuck (click here for her blog) and a dog named ender (click here for his blog). There is just something about the car that chuck and I just don't like, we cannot put our finger on it but its always there naggin us. My definition of a great car is a small compact made in japan with a high revving 4 cyclinder engine with 4 wheel independent suspension, a tight firm ride, 5 speed transmission and 9000 rpm redline. Luckily I also have one of those! We have a 1995 Acura Integra RS as well, that has been heavily modified. I dropped a 95 JDM H22A engine and tranny in her and had her custom tuned. The teg is one hell of a blast to drive, it has loads of torque and plenty of high revving fury to put a smile on your face. The problem with it is it delivers its boat loads of fun with a very rough edge, it is loud and because we had to shoe horn the engine in the engine bay the engine is almost completely hard mounted which sends vibrations all through the car and did I mention it is loud? So for long journeys it is not the ideal car.

Recently we(mainly I) have been pondering why not get rid of the altima and get a car that fits closer to our ideal car yet still offers some levels of creature comforts that are superior to the teg? There in lies the big problem, what to buy? First I guess some criteria of what kind of car I(we) like, it must be Japanese or German, it must have 4 cylinders, it must have 4 wheel independent suspension or as close as possible, it must have comparable performance to the altima, it must have a 5 speed manaul transmission and it must have room for ender (my co-pilot), it should have 2 doors although on the right car 4 doors is acceptable, it must have good build and fit and finsih quality. And overall it must have good gas mileage.

So here is a short list of what we are considering:

  • Mazda 3 Sport GT
  • Fits pretty nicely with our specs, costs about $23000 fully loaded with leather, and has things that lexus and mercedez do not such as steering wheel mounted audio controls and electonic brake force distribution
  • Acura RSX Type S
  • Not a bad performer, excellent quality, good interior room but not as much as the Mazda 3, very expensive for what you get, when all said and done it will be $34000, and has no bell and whistles just a basic car really.
  • Mercedez C230 Coupe Kompressor
  • Not sure of the quality, Mercedez quality has been nose diving for years, it is a rear wheel drive which tweaks my interest but has lower performance numbers then any of the front wheel drive cars we are considering. It is the slowest of all the cars we are considering, it is the only car that is not naturally aspirated (higher maintenance costs). It is the worse on gas considering it is a 1.8l four cylinder. Roughly $38,000
  • Lexus IS 300
  • Very nice car, clean styling, incredible fit and finish and excellent quality. Performance is less then breath taking although competent (The mazda 3 is faster). It is rear wheel drive but again has worse cornering performance then the front wheel drive cars we are considering. Well apointed interior but lacks steering wheel audio controls (what kind of sick bastard sells a $45,000 luxury car without steering wheel mounted audio controls?) Very small interior space, back seat does not fold down or flat, it has a small trunk pass through. the most expensive of the bunch at $45,000
  • BMW 1 Series
  • At this point we have only seen pictures of these cars and they look similar to the Mazda 3 Sport but not as nice. My estimate at this point in time is that it will not have good acceleration will handle poorly like the 3 series (except for the M3) and will probably cost too much for what you get. I would like just one auto magazine to put the BMW 3 series up aginst a Honda Prelude, they will never pick the 3 series.
  • Honda Civic SI & SIR
  • hahaha what a joke, Honda were they having a sale on Crack Cocaine when you guys were redesigning it? It looks bland, its performance is bland, its technology is bland not to mention way too over priced base price is $4000 higher then the Mazda 3 Sport GT and lacks half the features. This is not the civic the world knew and loved.

    That's it what would you pick?

    MAZDA 3 ! :D
    Dude Subaru WRX and you know where I stand on Japanese cars...

    programmer formerly known as paulicat
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