I love reading your columns, and have a question that I think you’ll enjoy. I’ve been living in Washington, D.C. for seven years, about half of that time without a car. I’m planning on getting a raise soon, and with that, I’d like to buy a car. And not just any car, but an adult car that I can rely on to start when I need it, and not constantly have to wrench on the little things that break.
For so long now, I have wanted nothing more than a Focus ST. Everything I’ve read about them just screams to my inner child, and at 29, I think I can still listen to him because I’m not expecting a family any time soon.
I am anticipating that my 1997 Subaru Legacy wagon, with 210,000+ miles on the clock, will need replacing soon. I’m lucky in that my wagon is a five-speed manual with the 2.2-liter EJ motor, so has been fairly bulletproof. In the last 19 years, it has needed only minimal work besides regular maintenance and wear items (brakes, clutch, tires), aside from the occasional axle or other random parts (i.e. alternator). I’ve been looking around at affordable commuter 5-door hatchbacks (Mazda3, Impreza, Focus, etc.) as it must fit multiple kids, sports gear, and I need a daily driver for work (~45 miles round trip).
Here’s my question: I would like something a little sporty as more than half of my commute is on fun twisty back roads. I keep going back and forth on whether or not to go for a naturally aspirated or turbo engine, followed by trying to decide between auto or manual. I feel like my five-speed-manual Subaru skewed my perception to believe a naturally aspirated engine and manual transmission is a much more sturdy, robust and reliable setup that’s less prone to breaking and needing repairs (fewer parts to fail) than a turbo and/or automatic.
Please advise a guy who just turned 50 and is rolling in a ’96 Honda Odyssey. My Ody was great, but the oil filter adapter O-ring recently failed and caused all of my oil to drain out while I was driving. It’s still running, but its days are numbered.
My wife happily handed me the keys to the Ody when we bought a new one for her in ’09. Yeah, we have two minivans. How great is that? The compromise was that she allowed me to get a motorcycle, which I have put 27,000 miles on in the last five years. I love riding my bike and dread the days I must take the minivan to work.
I recently got my first big boy job that pays big boy money. But because I’m definitely not a big boy yet and have nearly no responsibilities other than making rent, I’m going to spend it on silly things like cars and candy. (Effing bravo! –Bark).
I bought my first car three years ago, and I’m possibly the only person to win German luxobarge reliability roulette with an ’03 Audi allroad 2.7TT. (Brown: Check. Wagon: Check. Sorry B&B, not a manual diesel.) It has yet to lunch a turbo, and I’ve learned a lot by fixing the little things that have come up. I love this machine and will be keeping it as my dedicated AWD winter wagon/shit hauler/adventuremobile in addition to whatever I get next.
However, the winter-limo is neither the most fun nor most practical thing to scoot around my central Idaho ski town during the non-winter months. So, I’m looking for something much more fun and slightly more economical to become its stablemate.
The time has come to replace my Cadillac STS with a newer ride, so I have spent the last couple of weeks narrowing down the potential replacements. I have bought and sold enough vehicles that my evaluation process for resale vehicles is somewhat cut-and-dry, but buying a new personal vehicle seems to bring more questions and answers.
The Cadillac STS came from an auction like many of my previous daily drivers. It was a purchase of opportunity, due to low cost at the time. Profitability trumps emotion for many of my car-buying decisions; I care more about how much it costs to buy and recondition a car — and its subsequent profitability when I sell it — than I care about how it feels. (Read More…)
BMW has M, Audi has a whole alphabet and Honda has Si. In truth, just the Civic has Si. Honda’s “Sport injection” trim started back in the 1980s but never expanded beyond its compact offerings in the U.S. Honda’s performance trim also never expanded beyond sharpened responses, a modest dollop of power and some looks-fast trim additions. The first Honda Si model came to our shores in 1985, but the first wasn’t a Civic — it was a Prelude. The Civic Si joined us a year later in 1986. But I digress.
Cars like the Civic Si are popular with journalists like me. The reason is simple, quite like the Civic itself. Unlike some performance packages, the Si treatment still favors sharpened responses and improved feel over simply jamming an over-boosted turbo engine under the hood. While the later is obviously a hoot and a half, the former is ultimately more pleasing to my peculiar tastes.
Thanks for the recent advice on winter tires & wheels for my new Focus ST. I took delivery of the car two weeks ago and I’m having a blast. The first thing I did when I got it home was take Bark M’s advice and sign up for the Octane Academy.
So here’s another question: What’s your take on fuel octane and the ST?
Although GTI sales are on an upward trend, the American hot hatch is a rare breed as there are just three options. We have the aging Ford Focus ST, and a new pair of hatches from Germany: the Volkswagen GTI and the MINI Cooper S. (Yes MINI fans, I’m calling the MINI German.) The last time I reviewed the GTI and Focus ST, the Focus came out on top despite the greater refinement Volkswagen offered. This time we have an all new GTI while Subaru has kicked the 5-door WRX to the curb, BMW has redesigned the MINI Cooper JCW and Ford has “gone Euro” by jamming a 2.3L turbo in the Mustang. Where does that leave the GTI?
Hot hatches are all the rage in Europe but represent a fairly small segment of American consumption. The formula is fairly simple, you take a compact hatchback, insert a turbocharged engine, stiffen the springs and add an anti-roll bar that can lift the inner rear wheel in corners if you really push it. The result is the polar opposite of a pony car.