some car notes

These are mostly for my own reference.

The single most important criteria is that I want to buy a car that’s fun to drive – I want something that will make me want to drive in it, lure me behind the wheel. I want a car I can love. Of the cars I’ve owned or leased, I’ve loved two (Toyota Tacoma, Toyota MR2 Spyder, tolerated one Ford Escort GT), and been bored to the point of annoyance with one (Honda Civic – beige). I want it to look cool and interesting, hug curvy roads, be small enough to be easy to park or swing down narrow roads.

More practically, I want good fuel efficiency (lets out a Mustang), enough range to go to the lake house (lets out any electric car but a Tesla), a functional back seat (lets out a Miata). I have money saved and plan to pay cash, not finance, but while I could swing lower-end luxury cars, something like a Porsche is out of my range. I really want a nav system and a moonroof and Sirius radio; I’d prefer to have leather seats, a rearview camera (for backing up – not needed with a small car so much, but they make backing in so much easier!) and probably all wheel drive – last year we didn’t really have a winter but I think we do get some ice most years. Once we turn in the Ford Edge I drive (which I dislike), our only other vehicle will be an F-350 (very big truck) and there are times you just don’t want to take it.

So here are my notes so far, mostly for my own reference, with plusses and minuses. I may update this as I get more data.

Mercedes-Benz CLA250
+ Holds the road like nobody’s business – Really, this one had great
handling.
+ Solid luxury inside and out – This was the only one that actually looked a bit like a luxury car.
+ Lots of gadgets – Hey, I’m an engineer. This car has cool stuff.
+ Round air vents – I find they’re better at putting the air where I want it)
– Not intuitive – bells and whistles are a bit obtrusive. Needs some
getting used to.

Audi A3 or S3
+ Logical intuitive controls – everything is right where you expect it to be
+ Clean modern look to instrument panel
+ Lots of power, if I get the S3. If I get the A3, it’s still pretty decent – on a par with the BMW and Mercedes.
+ Tiny turning radius – I think it handled well, though I need to try it
again after trying the MB for a while.
+ Round vents again
– Boring exterior – if you didn’t see the Audi rings you’d think it was a Honda Civic.

BMW M228i (Haven’t driven it yet, only sat in it, so I don’t have much data.)
+ It’s a 2-door, though 4-seater (I want to be able to have rear
passengers, but I don’t have them often).
+/- More cluttered instrument panel than Audi, more intuitive than Mercedes.
– Not impressed with dealer – The first time I went I was ignored, the second time the salesguy was arrogant and a bit of a jerk.

Mazda 3
+ Half the price for all the features – Ted worked out that if I buy this and put only half the money I save into our house payment, we could pay it off – and thus retire – a few years sooner.
+ Speedometer on heads-up display (that’s just cool 🙂
+ Best looking of all the cars so far.
– Smaller sunroof than the others
– Armrest doesn’t move far enough forward – when I scoot the seat up to
where I can reach the pedals, the armrest doesn’t come far enough forward to reach my elbow.
– No all-wheel drive option.

I should probably visit Volkswagen too. I think the CC is bigger than I want, but the current Beetle has a lot of power and a lot of options including all the features I want – and does fit my wish to drive something interesting and quirky.

Suggestions and opinions cheerfully entertained.

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3 Responses to some car notes

  1. Lori says:

    Is Tesla in your area? If so check out the model s, it just broke the Consumer Reports ratings with a score of 103 out of 100! Not posting the link to it, please google if interested. Happy car hunting!

  2. dichroic says:

    I’d looooove to have a Tesla. BUt the very cheapest possible version of a Model S starts at $52.5, which is already a little more than I’d prefer to spend. Add a couple options and it’s out of my price range entirely.

  3. dichroic says:

    Correction: it’s actually $70K cash – they just subtract a $7.5K Federal incentive and “estimated gas savings over 5 years” to calculate the lower price. (I don’t mind them including the upfront incentive, but including gas savings seems a bit unfair.)

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