By on June 6, 2011

Brady Writes:

Dear Steve/Sajeev,

I’m a 35 year old physician with wife and 2 kids, who has happily made do with a succession of automatic VW Passat wagons, first a chipped 2000 and now a 2010 I use to reverse commute out of my large metro region. We’ll be moving to the oceanfront suburb of a small New England city this summer and I’ve got to select car #2. My commute will by short and pokey–7 miles each way, some of it along beautiful marshland and ocean, some of it not. Long haul family trips can be done in the Passat, but the second car should safely carry the kids in a pinch. Budget is 30-35k max. I’ve been thinking new v6 mustang convertible, but then again, is it time to invest in the future and, say, lease a volt? Or practical, comfortable fun in a new GTI/Golf TDI? Revisit a heavily depreciated bug convertible we used to love despite it’s crude underpinnings and tight back seat? Or take advantage of some older interesting vehicles–S4 cabriolet, 3 series convertible, or something I’m too boring to have considered?

Steve Answers:

What will make you happy?

 

That’s what you will have to figure out. The answer is almost limitless and you should take plenty of time to test drive whatever strikes your fancy. Since you already like Passats, I would start off with a 2008-2009 Audi A4 Cabriolet with low miles. Maintenance is absolute critical on these machines due to the overall fragility of VW products (don’t get me started).

 

But like a lot of ‘second car’ models, you can find a fair share of them with low miles in today’s market. Many of which will have CPO warranties and the all too essential books and records. Both the A4 and the more powerful S4 cabriolets can seat four people in the real world. The 08′-09′ time period I mentioned is also right about the time when Audi started making strides in their overall quality.

As for top of the line convertibles and hardtops, I have a very soft spot for the M3 convertibles. However so does every yuppie between Boston and San Francisco. The Audis will cost less money and will tend to not be nearly as abused as the M’s. Given your short commutes and beautiful scenery, I would play the field but start here first.

Sajeev Answers:

Brady, you need to see what you really want in a second car. Reading between the lines it needs to be topless, not insanely powerful with VW-sized proportions (Corvette LS3-FTL) and of premium intentions. That said, always buy a German ride with a factory warranty covering your entire ownership period.  The Mustang is a good long term value, but I don’t see you liking it over the long haul. Then again, prove me wrong.  Or really blow our minds and buy an LS-1 powered Miata, as that’s what you really need.  I’m serious!

My even more serious choice?  A MINI droptop, preferably a Cooper S.  And most definitely in Hot Chocolate paint, as the autobloggers-turned-Facebook-Admins at the Brown Car Appreciation Society demand it. The MINI is small, upscale, eco-friendly in appearance (though not really in practice) and drives like a firecracker.  You can fit kids in the back seat, especially if they must be punished for misbehavior.  And when the inevitable “repairs trump resale value” argument happens, the MINI has a strong following and hold their value quite well.  Especially compared to any and all Audis.

 

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

 

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62 Comments on “New or Used: The Short and Pokey Commute...”


  • avatar
    JJ

    So car #2 is going to be used as the daily driver and the Passat will move on to family car, right?

    In that case, eventhough your commute is fairly short, I wouldn’t go with a bug and would probably pass up on the MINI convertible as well. Too cute-sy, and not nice and comfortable enough to be in every day (even for say 20 minutes cause it still every day). More or less the same thing goes for the Mustang, apart from the cute part.

    I’d forget about the A4 since it’s too old of a design to spend this kind of money on (if you were to buy one of the last A4s). I believe it rarely makes sense to buy a car at the end of its lifecyclce new and used only if you can get a great deal on it (in this case, unless you get a great deal on an A4 vert, you’d be slightly annoyed anytime you come across an A5 vert).

    Which leaves the E93. I’d probably get that. You can forgo the M3 and go for a 335i instead, or even a 328i. I’d probably go for the latter since I like NA engines (both characteristics and less potential complications), plus it’s a convertible not a coupe, so you’re not supposed to take it to the track anyway. It is quite a heavy car but really the 328i is enough (again, in a vert!)…here in Europe the E93 is even sold as a 320i and even (IIRC) 320d.

    Alternatively a Volvo C70 might work for you as well. I think it looks great from some angles and a bit less so from others, with the pre facelift model looking a bit better. Personally I’d prefer the BMW for it’s RWD/steering feel but the Volvo do tend to have great seats, which is important too. Plus, you’re a physician, so you simply owe it to your profession to drive a Volvo ;)

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      JJ –

      From a certain perspective I agree with the sentiment that buying at the end of a car’s life cycle isn’t a great idea. That said, most German makes tend to be the most reliable in their last model year runs as compared to earlier model year runs.

      If you are into long term ownership, you may be better suited by going with the last model year or two of an A4. As someone else mentioned, the 2009+ Audis (especially the 2.0T based models that run the updated version of that engine with a timing chain versus belt, starting in 2008.5) seem to have made massive leaps in overall reliability. In fact, if I’m looking for a second car I would take a last year B7 A4 over a first year B8 A4 for this fact, even though the new A4 is superior in just about every regard (reliability included, actually).

      As for me, I owned a 2000 Jetta VR6 that was a complete nightmare – saved only by an extended warranty. Conversely, I owned a Mk IV R32 that would have been 100% bulletproof with the exception of a rear wheel bearing that went south at around 10,000 miles. Otherwise it was oil changes and tire replacements. I was shocked at the night and day difference.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      The E93 is not much longer for the current model cycle either. But I agree it’s a great choice in 335i or 328i guise.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Audi TT. As new as you can afford.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Actually, I know of several people with the current TT and I’m pleasantly surprised at how reliable these cars have been.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark MacInnis

        Finally, some Audi love on TTAC…as for me, I have a 14.5 year old, 168k mile A-6 (of which I have put 75k on it)….and in my 6 years of owning it I have spent less than $1,000 all told on non-scheduled maintenance. Few car marques could claim such a fine example of reliability…..

        Why do I therefore conclude that it ain’t the Audi, but the original owners that tend to have the problems?..

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        @ Mark -

        It runs both ways. I know of a lot of Audi owners who simply don’t perform good routine maintenance and then bitch when things break. However, I would argue that the majority of angry (former) owners are those who either were inconvenienced by too many trips to the dealer during the warranty period (irritating), or who shelled out some serious bucks once outside of warranty (painful AND irritating).

        Follow the maintenance schedule and you’ll rarely have a major malfunction on an Audi. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t make up for things like failed AC compressors, diverter valves, PCVs, blower motors, wheel bearings, control arms, etc.

        Those are the items that nickel and dime you to death.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      I can’t speak for the current TT, but there was not really enough room in the back seats even for kids in my first generation TT, and that was the coupe. I can’t imagine that the convertible would be any better, so the A4/S4 sounds like a better bet to me.
      Reliability of the TT was OK for the first ten years, but the car started having some issues in year eleven, hence the A5 in the driveway now.

  • avatar
    IGB

    Whatever New England town you’re in, you may prefer front/all wheel drive which may preclude the BMW’s. It’s probably only a few days a year but getting to work matters.

    The Volvo is nice but is getting more Chinese as time goes on. Something to think about if you’re still driving it in 5 years.

    You like VW’s and weren’t completely embarrassed by a beetle so there is always the Eos. Under appreciated and a hardtop convertible. Not de-contented yet.

    Lastly, you could put aside your convertible aspirations (how often do you really put the top down anyway? Do you really need the extra UV exposure?) and get a GTI which you’ll love. Put the extra money away. You’ll need it with medicine changing the way it is.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      In New England, we have hills (although if he’s where I think he is, they don’t) and front wheel drive, slippery conditions, and hills are a very bad combination. I live at the top of a hill and I know. A RWD BMW, especially with snows, will out climb a front wheel drive vehicle. Think about it, when you climb a steep hill in a vehicle, where does the weight shift?

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        While the GTI is front-heavy, with the faux slip diff, understeer isn’t all that unmanageable.

        While I don’t live in N.E., our GTI made it up and down Mt. Washington on a slippery day, pretty damn quick (helped it was a weekday and off-season and nobody was in front of us.)

        “Think about it, when you climb a steep hill in a vehicle, where does the weight shift?”

        What is this, a 20% gradient? Snow prefers AWD/FWD, even with hills.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Perhaps a Fiat 500C? You still get a useable back seat plus roof rails in convertible mode in case you go turtle. The yellow isn’t quite Luigi (pale flat yellow), though.

      The Miata can only hold one kid with the airbag disabled. Mine was too old for the cutoff switch so no kids ever rode in it :(

  • avatar
    eldard

    I suggest a Porsche Boxster. Better get one now before the most reliable Euro marque gets tainted with VW ElectroMagnetic Pulse issues.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I owned a 2008 Passat wagon and they are truly, truly great cars. I also owned a 2010 Jetta TDI and I wouldn’t empty my bladder on that engine to put out a fire. Probably beucase I was the one who set it on fire. at 7 miles each way commute, you’re wasting your money on an uber-efficient vehicle anyway. Look at the Prius, but to be honest, it has the driving dynamics of a garbage skow, and the truck capacity is comical.

    I would suggest you stay Audi or VW if you’re happy with the ones you’ve had, if for no other reason than VW/Audi has wonderfully consistent switchgear arrangements and getting into any of them feels like home, if that’s what you know.

    My first pick would be an Audi A3. They’re every bit as much fun to drive, can be had new for well under 35k or used CPO w/100k mile warranties for well under 30k, and you’ll be taking it to an Audi dealer for repairs, and they tend to be a smidge more competant than VW dealers.

    I’ve owned enough ocnvertibles in my day that I don’t like them. they leak, they’re noisy, and they’re cold in winter. IF you simply must have one, then I would go with either a used 335, a new Mini, or maybe a Satrun Sky/Pontical Solstice with the turbo motor, if you can find one.

    • 0 avatar
      monomille

      I haven’t found the Prius to handle like a garbage scow – with decent tires and proper inflation it handles as well as any other FWD car of its size. The 2010 and later version has a dumbed down ECO mode which makes it feel numb but its fine in PWR mode just like the 2004-2009 cars. Acceleration is not brisk but it is adequate for most use and the starting torque is noticeably faster than other small engined cars due to combined ICE and electric motor power. It should fit in with “pokey” just fine. As far as cargo capacity it has the same virtues and vices as other hatchbacks of its size. With the back seats down you can carry a lot of stuff including 8 foot 2x4s if you rest them on the dash, 6 footers if not. It is sized well for 2 people to travel with lots of belongings on long trips.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Be careful of those “decent” tires, since the Prius has that 600lb gorilla known as the E-CVT sitting right above the LF tire most normal tires in that position will be overloaded or at least at their limit. Plus switching away from the XL LRR tires can cause your MPG to drop significantly.

      • 0 avatar
        monomille

        @scoutdude
        I can’t say what might have applied to the first gen Prius but since 2004 there have been no “special” tires. My 2005 came with ordinary Goodyear Integrity tires which lasted 50K miles but were noisy. I replaced those with Michelin X from COSTCO which gave me 60K and better noise performance. Those tires wore perfectly evenly both side to side and across each tire. I replaced them with another set. Based on this actual experience I don’t believe the E-CVT placement has any effect. Also, there has never been a loss of MPG that wasn’t easily explained by environment (mostly very cold weather which makes the ICE run more to keep coolant hot for interior heating) except once. That was when the 12V battery was failing after 4 years (down to 9.5V!) and the extra charging from the traction battery/ICE showed up as about a 2 mpg “unexplained” change. Changed battery and returned to normal. MPG usually in the 48 to 50 range.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The Prius does come with “special” tires but since you went to Costco and purchased the Michelin you replaced your LRR tires with LRR tires. So no loss of MPG. Take a look at your current tires they say “Green X” on the sidewall, which is Michelin’s name for their LRR tires. You’ll likely find the LRR designation too.

        http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=182

        When you said decent tires I assumed you meant you moved up from standard all-season tires, not meant that you upgraded to premium standard all-season tires. You move upp to a performance tire you’ll find that some of them are LL or light load tires not SL tires.

        Do you not rotate your tires? If you don’t you’ll see the difference in wear between the LF and RF tires. If they are rotated properly and regularly then no you won’t notice the side to side difference.

      • 0 avatar
        monomille

        @Scoutdude
        Thanks, now I understand what you meant re tires. I didn’t consider using performance tires since the design is optimized for efficiency and that would seem self defeating – the LRR tires performed well enough and were guaranteed for 80K miles. I did rotate the tires (front to back each side each time) and when they were replaced at 60K miles all four had the same amount of tread left. I was surprised that they wore that evenly. I got a rebate equal to 1 free tire since they didn’t reach 80K.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Just as an FYI keeping the tires on the same side of the vehicle when rotating went out of “style” many years ago. Take a look at your owners manual it should have the recommended rotation pattern. You should find that the preferred method, for FWD, is to “cross” the rear tires as they move to the front. The fronts stay on the same side as they move to the rear. That way if done frequently enough every tire will be in every position eventually. That negates the effect of the tire that gets most of the drive torque (or has heavier loading) wearing quicker. I remember servicing cars, particularly FWD ones, back in the late 80′s and early 90′s where the right side tires were bald while the left side had lots of tread left.

        The fact that you wore out a set of 80K Michelins in 60K does show just how hard those cars are on tires. If you had used some cheapo off brand tires you would have likely shredded the LF.

        On another note you must drive on the verge of Hypermiling because the people I know with Prius don’t get anywhere near the MPG you are reporting. The one when using it for his daily commute consistently gets between 44-45 MPG and complains when his wife uses it when she is taking a longer trip, brings it back, and it only got ~42 MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @scoutdude, thats difficult to manage with directional tires, and rom what I have seen, most tires these days seem to be directional, not just performance tires. I havent checked out any LRR tires, so maybe they are different. Having to bring it to a shop to pay to have them unmounted and remounted can get expensive, and frustrating to verify if they even do it correctly.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    I’ll also +1 on an A3. Look into a 2008.5 or newer model with the updated 2.0T engine.

    Pre 2008.5 models had problems with PCVs, AC compressors, blower motor fans, DV valves and more. Audi seems to have really overhauled things with the updated 2.0T and that includes many of the subcomponents. Far more reliable.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    7 miles in or near a quaint NE town? phew, get a bicycle, get a cargo bicycle if you want to transport the kids.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    If you are willing to buy used and your budget runs to $35k then the sky is the limit. 20 yo Porsche, 30 yo Ferrari if you are really crazy. Hell, you could even get a late ’80s Roller for that kind of money. As a doctor, nobody other than maybe other doctors will give you grief for your bizarre choice.

    That being said, Mazdaspeed Miata FTW!

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I leased a 2006 A4 for 45,000 miles, and am now nearing the end of my 2009′s run with similar miles, and not a single problem with either. The 2009 is vastly superior to the 2006, and it’s one of the most pleasant all-around cars I’ve ever owned (and I’ve owned a lot). I’m now looking forward to the 2012 model.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I would get a brand spanking new Mazda RX8 touring package with the sunroof.
    It seats four to drag along the kids and would be a blast to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I love the RX8 but buying a new one is a waste of money… resale value is so bad, they are a bargain as a very slightly used vehicle, and you still get the 100k powertrain warranty. And no silly grinning grill…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Doctor, if you’re not short and pokey, you can choose just about any convertible you wish. How about a Mercedes SLK?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Infiniti G Convertible. A little less outré than the Mustang, a lot nicer inside and with a backseat better than that the Germans and the sadly-under-engined Lexus ISC.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    Forget all those granny convertibles and add some excitement to your life, your only 35!

    You need a brand new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 4 Door with the Freedom Top Hardtop. Your kids will love it too. And you never know when you’re going need to go off-road and save someones life during a medical emergency.

  • avatar
    snabster

    SAAB 9-3 convertible.

    Find a 2006 or 2007. The Aero versions with a v6 turbo are very fun.

  • avatar

    (If the SLK and Boxster can be kicked around, let me suggest that you)

    Punt your final decision to 2013.

    BMW has an insanely cheap lease offer this month on Z4s.

    Doing a 24 month, 10K miles/year lease yields a residual of 80 or 82%, depending upon sub-model. You’ll pay less in depreciation over 2 years than the amount the car loses in value the instant you drive it off the lot. Throw in incentive money factors, loyalty (or Elite credit) MF discounts, plus a glut of inventory to lower your buy price and the deals are near unbelievable. (Deal started in May, continued this month.)

    Check out bimmerfest for more tips, but it is common this month for people to be getting Z4′s (with NO money down, but with multiple security deposits to lower the interest rate) for under $400 per month. (Offer not approachable in IL or TX due to their crappy tax system.)

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Sounds like you’re already a VAG fan…I’d take a look at the S4 verts (popular in Utah) or even the VW EOS (I think) since it has a metal folding top. Enough room for the kiddos, which the MINI or TT may not have.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    +1 on the Mini.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    My standard reply to these types of questions: Classic Porsche 911… 1987-1988, a cabriolet, since they are even more plentiful than coupes and you like convertibles. Plus you are a doctor in New England, isnt there a law that says you are supposed to own a Porsche?? :)

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Chrysler Sebring?

    Nah I’m just kidding.

    Might I suggest a slightly used BMW 335i convertible? Drop top, lots of power and able to carry the kids in a pinch….or a 328i if you’re not power hungry but a good idea if you go this route would be to get the extended warranty.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    SAAB 9-3 convertible. Find a 2006 or 2007. The Aero versions with a v6 turbo are very fun.

    I second this. In as you are in New England, there are plenty of Saab mechanics if needed. One of the safest convertibles out there, and a pretty roomy back seat. The turbo 4 is more than adequate.

    The VW bug sounds awesome, but as a dad… put this in perspective as I did a few years ago when I was lusting at a ’69 Mustang convertible…. SAFETY FIRST. The old iron is beautiful…but the new stuff is way safer for my kid(s). Just a thought.

  • avatar
    Mr. K

    look, sounds like you want some fun. Want to be at the garage? No? Nix the BMW and Audi. 2 quick ideas – since you like convertibles why not a pair of Mazdi – a used Miata and a used or new 323.

    Nothing much I can say about the Miata you don’t already know.

    323 is your golf with reliability and the performance of the Golf if you get the bigger engine in the 323 (standard on the hatch BTW) Good MPG Zoom Zoom and decently fun to drive with low insurance and a conservative image for old doc Brady.

    No? Mustang convertible sounds like a Great Idea 300 hp and out the door for somewhere around 33-35k. Warranty, reliability and an American icon – you will be called upon to drive in parades for the next 10 years with the ‘stang especially if you get it in red!

    Volt? Let someone else take a hit on it – the second generation Volt will be eons better – but a Prius…

    The Focus looks like a great ride but I dont buy cars their first year out.

    Silly idea – you can afford a used boxter and its so so so so good its worth the trips for service!

  • avatar
    ChuckFL

    + 1 for the Saab 9-3 Convertible!

    My parents who live in Northern New Hampshire have been using a Saab Convertible as one of their DD’s year round since 96′. Currently they are driving a 05’9-3 2.0T. They are great winter cars with a real backseat and a good sized trunk. Saabs are great buys CPO’d or new with current incentives. Good luck!

  • avatar
    EEGeek

    There are some definite mixed messages in the OP’s desires. With a 14 miles commute in a 2nd vehicle I’d consider a Nissan Leaf rather than a Volt, and you’ll get a nice nod from your neighbors and colleagues if you run in that sort of crowd. Range anxiety shouldn’t be a problem and the Passat is there for longer trips anyway. To me a Golf TDI mentioned would be a waste for this application – you’d hardly even get the engine up to temperature by the time you arrive.

    But a Leaf doesn’t have a drop top and doesn’t inspire the driver the way the German cars mentioned do. So back to Steve’s response/question: “What will make you happy?”

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a lot of suggestions for sporty convertibles, but I’m with EEGeek that some of the hybrids might be worth considering. The short distance fits the use case of a Leaf to the T, but a Prius or Fusion/Camry/Sonata hybrid would still help with the environmental impact of the short distance.

      Does the rest of your family not have a preference for the 2nd car? I’d poll them to at least scope it down to what class of vehicle they like.

      Personally, I’d go for a fully loaded Mustang V6 convertible. Blasphemous to consider the V6 over the V8 for a Mustang, but more than enough car to have a great time.

  • avatar
    wsn

    7 miles one way screams Nissan Leaf.

    I mean, isn’t that too short of a distance to be good to an ICE car?

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Short drives like that are definitely less than ideal for an ICE from an efficiency and durability perspective.

      Nissan Leaf and a motorcycle would be my recommendation. Get an SV650 or something for a little bit of a thrill while commuting and drive the Leaf when you need to tow the kids or it is raining.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      But 7 miles isn’t far enough to justify a Leaf. To make a Leaf pay off you need to drive it much much more than that.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        But if you drive too far, you wont get back… :)

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        True but the key to getting your money’s worth or at least some of it is to use up a significant amount of it’s range most days not to use it’s range over the course of an entire week. A 25 each way sounds about perfect for a Leaf from the reports I’ve seen. It should still get you too and from and allow for getting stuck in traffic when you need the heat/AC, lights ect and/or make that small detour to the store to pick up milk on the way home.

  • avatar
    JMII

    If you looking at the GTI and Mini then do yourself a favor and take a look the ride my wife grabbed (same as my avatar) a Volvo C30. A Saab convertible would a good choice as well as second car. For me a second car would do the commute, plus some weekend fun, so I wouldn’t consider a Volt or Leaf – those are strictly commuter vehicles. If that’s all you might as well by a used Camry or Accord. The other vehicles on your list indicate you want some fun and the C30 is a funky little hatchback. I bring it up because its off most people’s radar but size & performance wise its in the GTI arena.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    After reading all these suggestions, I agree that a Volvo convertible would also be a good choice. The good doctor is only 35 yrs. old, but he must also project the proper image even in his “off-duty” time, plus he has a family and in my opinion, a Porsche or any of the super hot rods would be sending the wrong message – and that is very important to how he is viewed by his peers and patients.

    Just something to consider along with all the other comments.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      For better or for worse, the BMW 3-series is almost part of a young doctor’s uniform these days.

      The local hospital doctor’s parking lot had the occasional visit from an NSX and a current Quattroporte, not to mention the usual luxury marques. Your peers need to know how much you’re billing.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    You need to throw at all the previous suggestions and buy a proper doctor’s car a Buick. I’m not talking about a modern one but say a late 60′s Skylark or LeSabre. With a 7 mile commute you’ll likely never get to enjoy a “performance” oriented ride so get a good cruiser. At 15 MPG you’ll be burning less than a gallon a day and a 60′s Buick with 350 power will get that 15 MPG regardless of whether is is city or hwy driving, I know mine does.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    If you can hold out till near the end of the year, I say get the upcoming Golf R with 6-speed manual and 4 doors. It’ll be a blast to drive with that mega-turboed 4 and AWD, and will carry your two kids and stuff easily. Fuel economy will be outstanding for the power output (I average 28 mpg in my 2008 GTI w/ stick and same engine, though detuned) Also, the AWD comes in super-handy in those dastardly New England winters. It’s a win all around.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Sadly, Volkswagen of America just delayed the Golf R until 2012 due to production constraints.

      I owned a 2004 R32 and it was the best car I’ve owned. Still miss it. A set of Blizzaks on that thing during the winter and it was a beast. The only problem I ran into was that since the car sat relatively low to the ground a good snowstorm turned it a plow. ;-)

  • avatar
    anchke

    At least do yourself a favor and test drive the Saab 9-3 convertible. They’re made for New England weather which was sucky last winter and promises more of same in the future. As a New Englander I can tell you that there’s nothing exclusive hereabouts re: Bimmers and Audis. They’re lined up at every intersection, many of them blinged out, slammed and with concert hall size sound systems boomping away. To join this company, a buyer has to pay a premium price? No, thanks. My brother, who owns a very nice, new BMW, reports it’s ok in snow once you get used to its habit of traveling sideways from a stop before proceeding forward. Winter can last six months in NE, so it’s a practical matter to consider. My Saab scoffs at snow.

  • avatar
    drcase

    Well, the bad news is that I needed to go ahead and get something a month ago (I guess the sifting process for these questions takes time), the good news is that I followed all your advice in spirit and got something I was excited about. And that was, strangely enough: a 2005 Jaguar XJ Super V8, green, vast, and smelling like pipe tobacco (or what recall that smells like), the useless but charming drop down rear trays, backseat entertainment for the kiddos, etc. 50k miles for $23.5K, turned down an extended warranty. The huge back seat swallows modern car seats beautifully, and the car feels surprisingly sporty (harsh on bad bumps, maybe I need to back down from the stock 19s), and I love how old the thing looks.

    Probably an idiotic purchase by some measure, but so far so good. A used Miata when the kids are a little older.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Try out a low-mile Volvo C70. There’s one in my quaint New England village and it looks quite fetching in black.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I grew up in a small pictureque city in New England near the ocean, and if you’re going where I think you are, you’ll have a convertible top down for 3-4 weeks in the Spring and 3-4 weeks in the Fall. In between you’ll want air conditioning to chase the humidity and the other times you’ll be using the heater, the wipers, defroster and an ice scraper. Anywhere near the ocean there’s freezing rain, and the roads get slick. Get a car with a sunroof and extra rustproofing. A Subaru WRX (or Impreza GT) would work just fine.


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