By on March 31, 2016

The Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: PRNewsFoto/Mazda Motor Corporation

Kirk writes:

Bark,

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.

With two of my four girls in college and our third just a few years from leaving home (our youngest is 11), I’m itching to get something fun for myself. I’d prefer to buy new and spend no more than $30,000. I’d like to get something sporty with a manual transmission. I will rarely have passengers in my car. I’m 5’8” and 140 pounds, so smaller cars suit me. I’ve driven the new MX-5 Miata several times and really enjoy its light, nimble handling and responsiveness. Another car that I loved driving was the GTI. I’ve always owned Japanese cars and would have a hard time buying German (yea, I know the GTI is built in Mexico).

My favorite car that I’ve owned was a ’83 Toyota Celica GT five-speed. Something like that would be great. My concern with the Miata is that it’s too small and only has limited trunk space. We also have a lot of cold days and hot, sunny days here, so I’m not sure how often I’d have the top down. I think the ticket for me may be the upcoming 2017 Honda Civic Si Hatch six-speed. I don’t think I want a WRX type of car as the ride I heard is a bit harsh. And I’m not a Camaro/Mustang kind of guy.

Please let me know what you think I’d enjoy driving. As you can tell, I tend to hang on to cars for a long time.

Thanks for your advice!

Kirk, I feel like you’re baiting me into recommending a Fiesta ST … and maybe I will! But let’s explore some of the other options first.

Some cars that I’m going to exclude right off the bat: Audi A3 (German, not as fast as you’d want it to be in sub-$30,000 trim), all the pony cars (Camaro, Mustang, Challenger), Nissan 370Z (too heavy, not super nimble, small trunk, unrefined engine), Hyundai Genesis Coupe (a little too heavy and too much grunt in comparison to the cars you prefer).

You might be the poster customer for the MX-5. You have the minivan for family transportation, you don’t need to take many people or possessions with you when you travel, and you like lightweight, tossable cars. And while you’re rightly concerned about trunk space in the Miata, how much space do you really need when you have the Odyssey? You mentioned that driving to work might be a concern, so maybe you’re a cellist? If you need more space, let’s investigate other options.

If you liked the Toyota Celica, why not take a look at the upcoming Toyota 86? I saw the Toyo-ized version at the New York International Auto Show last week, and it looked great. However, getting in and out of the Toyota isn’t the easiest thing in the world. If you’re planning to keep the car for a while, that could end up being a concern in the future. Trunk space isn’t all that awesome, either — only about 7 cubic feet.

I also saw the Civic Hatchback in New York, and I’ve heard very, very good things from those in the know about the upcoming Civic Si hatch. If that’s up your alley, you might try waiting the Odyssey out and see if you can make it last until the new Si bows.

And yes, if you really enjoyed the GTI, you owe it to yourself to check out the ST twins from Ford. The FiST has no problem swallowing my 27-inch suitcase in the hatch, and it’s every bit as much fun as the GTI. However, the FiST is considerably harsher riding than the GTI, and the interior isn’t nearly as nice. It’s more of a raw driver’s experience than the VeeDub, and you mentioned that you’re not a fan of the WRX-style driving experience.

Why not a Focus ST? It’s got a little more grunt than the GTI, it’s not as stiff as the FiST, and it’s got about as much room as the GTI. It depends on what you like about the GTI. If you like the creature comforts of the GTI, the FoST isn’t for you. If you liked the driving dynamics, the Focus might be more your speed.

But let’s not kid ourselves. You wrote to me asking for permission to get an MX-5, so I’m going to grant your wish. Yes, Kirk, not only will I give you permission to do it, I’m going to tell you that it’s the best possible choice for you. You’ll enjoy the convertible on the days you can use it, you’ll love the driving experience, and you’ll smile every time that you get to drive it. You’ve endured a lot of minivan time, my friend. It’s time to reward yourself with the roadster of your dreams. In fact, why not the new RF model?

So while Miata might not always be the answer, in this case it definitely is.

[Image: PRNewsFoto/Mazda Motor Corporation]

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59 Comments on “Ask Bark: Going from Minivan to Just Plain Old Mini...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    The Miata is a solid choice but I would go for the GTI. Since you keep cars a long time do you want to be 60 getting in and out of the Mazda? Maybe or maybe not. The GTI would be more useable and a day to day and could be a car that your kids could use if needed and is safer than the mazda. Not sure where you live but the GTI would be the better winter car, unless you put snows on the mazda,You will still have the bike to enjoy the great sunny days. Drive both ( and if the honda SI comes out soon) and see which won fits you better.

    • 0 avatar
      Lsjumb

      Mazdaspeed3. I have one (110,000 mi. so far.) and love it. Affordable, reliable, practical and fun.

      Had an 82 Celica GT 5-speed which was my favorite car until my MS3.

      My only concern about it is how I can replace it when it eventually wears out.

    • 0 avatar
      mikeg216

      He wants a car with a manual transmission, no one under 35 can drive a manual transmission

    • 0 avatar
      slap

      I’m 61 and have no trouble getting in or out of my Miata.

      The GTI is more usable, but will cost more to maintain and repair. And the insurance on a Miata should be cheaper.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Speaking from experience here. What ever you do, until all of your daughters are finished school and on their own (permanently) ensure that you keep at least one mini-van in your driveway.

    Over a period of over 2 decades we always had at least 1 and usually 2 in ours. Traded in the last 1 a few years ago. Kept a Kia Rondo as our ‘family hauler’. Smaller than a mini-van but still very practical.

    However, in this economy, children move back and forth and quite often. Between apartments and their parent’s or between subsistence/precarious employment and school.

    The Rondo is great for moving a residence room’s full of supplies. However since ‘losing’ our last mini-van, I have had to rent one so many times that I now long for one of my own.

    Also minivans are generally a great vehicle for young/learning drivers, just as long as they don’t fill all the seats on a regular basis. Good sightlines, usually come even in basic trim with all the required safety ‘gadgets’, relatively heavy (for those who buy their vehicles based on physics), and usually slow and bulky enough that they don’t lead themselves to spirited driving beyond a young driver’s proficiency.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    GTI is the working man’s 911… a seriously hard car to beat. You have to REALLY like driving engagement to give up all the practicality and economy of the GTI for a Miata. Not saying that can’t be the case, but you don’t sound 100% committed.

    I have told this story about 30 times, but for a short while I had a 350Z and Civic at the same time with my motorcycle. I bought the Civic to replace the Z and my time with all 3 simultaneously validated my decision. When the weather was good or I didn’t have somewhere far/important to go I’d grab the bike. When the weather sucked or I had to go somewhere far I’d get in the Civic. Insanely enough the Civic was quieter and more refined on the road than the Z, and obviously the motorcycle was more raw. So if you have a bike you can go much less extreme with your daily driver. The worst is to have a car and bike that compete for the same purpose.

    GTI is a beast man. As fast as my Z in a straight line these days, out of the box. Probably not much less practical than your minivan either. Obviously not as raw as the Miata but then is the Miata as raw as your motorcycle?

    • 0 avatar
      VW16v

      Accord v6 coupe with a manual would also be a good car. He did mention his past favorite car was a Celica GT. Yes, I use the name VW16v. But, let’s be real. No way a GTI would hold up to a Accord v6 or WRX.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Baee model manual transmission WRX is the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      VW16V,
      Except the Op said no to the WRX.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        He still should check out a new WRX. Won’t have the issue like a GTI and more room then a little miata. He could drive the WRX 8-10 years and sell it for about $7-8k less then he payed. GTI it will be worth about 20% of its original value. Safer then a Fiesta ST.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        +1 for the WRX.

        The OP sounds like he hasn’t driven it but is relying on the peanut gallery we call the internet.

        Go drive the car, then make your decision. I like the GTI but I’d take a WRX over it any day. And, the OP generally keeps cars for a longer period of time.

        The WRX will hold its value better and statistically will be more reliable. This is coming form someone who likes VW and has owned many.

        Give the WRX a try!

        • 0 avatar
          redmondjp

          My neighbor has a new WRX and I hate, hate, HATE the way that it sounds (rumbles my whole family room every time he comes and goes). He spent buku bucks on a custom exhaust for it (no idea why) and I think it sounds worse now than it did stock.

          It sounds like a badly-running garden tractor to me. If that’s your thing, then fine.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Not all WRX’s modified like your neighbors. A stock base model WRX is a completely different vehicle from a STI or modified WRX.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I don’t find those to be very well handling cars at all…

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Sounds like you’ve already made up your mind on the Miata. Why not? You may want to try out the Fiat 124 version to see which you prefer. There’s plenty of sporty small car options out there.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      I had 2 Alfa 164s and a Saab 9000CD. The difference was night and day even with the same platform for each. So if the Miata feels right, the Fiat might be worth a look based on my experience. But it comes with the unknowns of Fiat dealership etc. If the major bits are the same, could you get it serviced by a Mazda dealership or a good indy?
      PS, also had a 69 124 Sport Coupe and a 74 124 Spyder. The Coupe was a much, much, much better car while the Spyder was a nose heavy pig. No substitute for an extended test drive.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      It sounds like the Fiata 124 will be a fun car especially with the engine and raucous exhaust from the 500 Abarth.

      I’m sure Mazda could service some things but engine related issues not so much. But isn’t this engine also used by Jeep in the Renegade and by Dodge in the Dart?

      I’m sure a good indy could work on the car. In fact, you might prefer it.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        As far as warranty service goes, gotta bring it to a Fiat dealer. For general service, any FCA dealer would have access to service info and be familiar with the engine as it’s very similar to the 1.4T used in other FCA models.

  • avatar
    phreshone

    Not knowing the area you’re in, I would go GTI… should be money on the hood, great financing given VW’s situation. It’s your driver for poor weather, not good weather.

    In a few years you can always get a used MX-5 and complete a small block (or maybe ecoboost) swap if you need super 4 wheel thrills on top of the motorcycle

  • avatar
    nels0300

    What is an “oil filter adapter o-ring”? Catastrophic oil loss isn’t good.

    Is this another issue on Honda V6s?

    • 0 avatar
      kclindley

      In my ’99 Ody the oil filter screws onto an oil filter adapter which is screwed onto the engine. The oil filter adapter is a about the same diameter as the oil filter and about an inch or two deep. Some cars have these so that the oil filter can be reached and serviced. It never occurred to me to unscrew the adapter and replace the O-ring because I didn’t realize there was an adapter. I always thought I was just screwing the filter directly onto the engine. It’s of course not surprising that after 20 years the O-ring failed. If you have an old car it would be worth checking.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Many cars also have an oil cooler sandwiched underneath the oil filter which also uses large O-rings to seal. Most cars nowadays use O-rings somewhere in the oiling system (take Volvos where the oil comes from the block into the pan casting to the filter – there are several in there) and when your car gets to a certain age, it’s time to renew them.

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Nippon fan, but I truly might consider a Mini. Left-over R57 Cooper S convertibles start around 30k, including ATM (I’d go for it … torque steer is an issue). Extremely fun to drive. Seats 4. The upright windshield gives you true convertible feeling, the optional wind deflector makes driving in cooler conditions quite fun.
    2015 Cooper conv non-turbo with MT start at 21k. Drives nicely with the stick.
    The new F56 Minis … they are just normal small cars.
    But of course, if a MX5 fits all your needs, it’s a great choice.

  • avatar
    daro31

    I’ll probably take all kinds of hits for this, but I found myself in a similar position 5 years ago. At 60 years old my motorcycle a Gold Wing which I had for 17 year 270,000 miles and and was my toy vehicle had reached its end. I was down to a minivan for me, and my Wife has an Elantra. My choice for new toy, a Miata but found it too small in luggage carrying capacity. I expaded the old guy convertible list and ended up with a 2004 Jaguar XK8 convertible. I don’t know if you can do regular maintenance stuff yourself, but if you have a motorcycle you probably can change oil and filters and keep her waxed. For pure driving pleasure head turning looks and cruising I have never had anything like it. I know there is a reliabilty reputation but I drove mine 7000 km. to the Gaspe in Canada, and are annual trip to Myrtle Beach last year, all together 15,000 unspoiled glorious kilometres. With your budget you could find a much newer one then mine. I am 6 foot tall and 205 lbs. and my goal until I am 75 is to be able to still get in and out of this car.The car now has 173,00 km. on her and I would even hesitate to head out cross country this afternoon and know I was going to love every mile of it.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    What about trying a Toyobaru (even though Miata Is Always The Answer)?

    A little bit more space, hardtop for those who have no soul, and still a lively handler.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I agree. The GTI and Focus ST seem like perfect choices, especially as you get older.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      But what about a Mazda3 with manual?

      And perhaps wait till they introduce the new turbo skyactiv (mazdaspeed3) as they seem to be hinting at once it shows in the CX9?

      I still think unless you REALLY know you don’t need the rear seat or cargo…a hatch is the way to go.

      And the GTI turbo lag just makes me crazy. At least with the auto since I never drove the manual.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I didn’t feel the GTI had much turbo lag.

        But I forgot about the 3. A manual Mazda3 might also be the ticket, if the LW is looking for a well-balanced daily-driver.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      You know what’s a good choice for someone getting older?

      Whatever they want.

      I’m not being flip, it’s just why make age related deficiency judgments when the OP has mentioned none?

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Definitely worth driving the BRZ and 86 in addition to the Miata. It is one step more toward practical than the Miata while retaining excellent handling, a great gearbox, fantastic seats, a great chassis, and RWD. The back seats fold flat to open up the trunk. You can fit a bicycle in the trunk with the seats flat, for example.

    I actually sold my MKV GTI in the summer of 2010 planning on buying an NC Miata or an AP1 S2000. My wife and I were talking about starting a family and she talked me into waiting to see how that all played out. Family happened and as soon as my daughter was forward facing, I picked up an FR-S. The Miata or S2000 would have only graced my garage for a very short period of time had I pulled the trigger.

    If you can keep the top down 50% of the time and don’t need the trunk space, it is hard to fault the Miata, though. Your daughter being old enough to be out of car seats would make the Miata a pretty nice choice. It will definitely be on my consideration list when my daughter is big enough to sit up front.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    People are expecting me to say C-Max. No, I’m going to say Mini Cooper S – or C-Max (just to be consistent).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Like I said, I’m still bitter we didn’t get the Grand C-Max. That’s the one they had at the auto shows as a concept. That thing is just cool.

      But if I needed a hatchback or wagon hybrid, the C-Max would still be my top choice, versus the Prius V. And you can find a well-equipped C-Max for well under $20K, all day long.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    Minivan to just plain Mini…I thought this would be a topic on the Mini, but I enjoyed the piece anyway.

    My two cents…and at 73, I am older than most responders. I’m also 6′ 1″ and rather portly at 245. I bought my first sports car in 2004, a new NB MazdaSpeed Miata. Loved driving, it handled great, and had plenty of grunt. Great for jaunts through the mountains on spring, summer, and fall days. Unfortunately it was a bit tight for me and my expanded girth, but it was so much fun to drive, I persevered…until I decided to take it on an extended trip. 500 miles in one day was enough to make me realize I needed something different, something with more space. My lovely spouse, being a few years younger and more svelte than I, had no issues with comfort, but she did have issues with trunk space, particularly vacations to the mountains where she invariably wanted to buy stuff from local merchants. The sweet part for me was reminding her we had no room for transport. Her answer to that was having the items shipped, but I digress. I kept the car about 30 months and sold it with 15K on the odometer. I subsequently bought a C6 Corvette, more space, including cargo, hip, leg, shoulder, etc, and more than twice the grunt. Loved it. Kept it nearly 7 years, but decided to sell it for seed money to build a shop in my back yard. It had 26K miles, and had a 3700 road mile trip from Texas to California, covering that distance in 3 weeks. Great gas mileage too, 30 plus average for the entire trip including mountain and back road jaunts in practically every state we drove through.

    By this time I had grown accustomed to having a sports car, and decided to get a cheaper ride, but one that was comfy, yet fun and sporting to drive. I found an 02 Z 3 with factory hardtop, and that fit the bill nicely. Easy in and out, relatively easy for regular maintenance, and had enough grunt as well as decent fuel mileage to carry my butt around on special occasions. I’m 73 years old now, and have the Z 3 sold to a friend in KY, delivering it to him within a couple of weeks. I still do autocross competition, and am looking for a good compromise in daily driving yet still fulfills my competitive spirit.

    Enter the Mini Cooper…in this case a John Cooper Works Mini…not mine but have been co driving it for a few events this season, plus a couple hundred miles of street driving. This is the R 56 model, 208 hp, with big brake kit, etc. 2012 model…I love this danged car!

    Bottom line to this drivel is I am in the market for a nice, low mileage Mini JCW in the 2009 to 2013 model range without the danged panoramic sun roof option…a difficult task at this point, and preferably 50K miles or less…another difficult task…under 17K…also a difficult task. But I prefer these to the newer series of Minis with their added weight and softened suspension…

  • avatar
    kclindley

    Is Bark a mind reader? I sent my question to him last night and as I was driving home I just kept thinking about the how much fun I had test driving the Miata, which I did about four times. When I got home I said to my 11-year old, Abby I think you and I would have a lot of fun in a Miata!

    I love reading your comments as it helps me think through my options. And there are a lot of good options that you’ve provided. I have driven the FR-S/BRZ and did enjoy it although it paled a but compared to the Miata with the top down. I’ve never driven a Focus ST, so I’ll put that on to to-do list. I’ll drive the FR-S/86 again too. With warm weather on the way I’ll be on my bike for the next several months, so if I delay the car purchase maybe I’ll be able to drive the Civic SI hatch as well before pulling the trigger.

    If I had to decide on a car today my gut tells me to go for the MX-5 Miata as Bark concluded. I really don’t think I’d regret that. I have have the feeling that if I talk myself out of the Miata I will regret that.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Is there any reason to consider an older ‘Vette? Never owned one myself, and it’s on my “minivan lease over” list as well. Is it just too far on the gold-chain side from Miata?

    …edit…oops, just finally rolled back to OzCop’s answer. That answers that, but I guess it comes down to temperment. Highway bomber or zippy personality?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    Don’t let the internet sour you on the WRX. Go drive it and evaluate the car for yourself. I went into a WRX test drive thinking I wouldn’t like it at all. You know what, I loved it.

    To me, it was more engaging than the FoST, GTI, Regal GS, and Accord Sport (not really the same type of car). Out of the four door cars in it’s price range, for my money, the WRX is king.

    If I were you, I’d drive all the cars you’re considering and I’d wait to see what the Civic SI will offer.

    The Miata is always a good choice and you have the van if more space is required. So make a list and go drive and drive some more.

    And give the WRX a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.

    • 0 avatar
      kclindley

      Thanks for the advice. I get too caught up in reviews. I will drive the WRX this week end. I have heard a lot of good things about it.

    • 0 avatar
      slance66

      Agreed. And they have restyled it. It looks sporty but in a tasteful way. No longer has that boy racer look. The reality is you can drive your wife and 11 year old and a friend of hers and wouldn’t need to take the newer van. Can’t do that with a Miata.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      The WRX is a sedan. Maybe a sporty sedan, but still a staid sedan. I’d prefer something with two or at most three doors.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    If you didn’t already have a motorcycle I’d have said go for the Miata, but does anyone really need two wind in the hair/bugs in the teeth experiences?

    As for the WRX, I’ve always found them to be no more than a cheap sh!tbox on steroids, but you may think differently.

    However the BRZ/86 is definitely worth a drive. It’s no speed racer, but it moves right along and the engine is smooth and revvy enough to make up for any numbers deficit. Also has a nice interior, a usable trunk and a back seat that’s good enough for kids or the occasional adult passenger.

    The GTI is the most practical all round solution, as well as being the quickest. Hard to say what kind of a dice roll the VW is as far as reliability goes. It’s a brand new platform since 2013, so one can hope.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    How about a Fiat 124? It’s a Miata with more horsepower and performance-tuned suspension as well as a relatively unique appearance.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I have a 2002 Miata and have driven a few GTIs. They’re night and day. The GTI is great if you don’t have a practical car at home (and don’t need a deep hatch), but it’s only fun relative to other practical cars. The new one, especially – its steering feel is woefully numb. The turbo lag is frustrating and its suspension requires a bit of patience if you’re used to something firmer and more responsive. So no, the GTI is not an alternative to a Miata or 86/BRZ. It’s a compromise between those and a minivan.

    The Focus ST and WRX are more exciting than the GTI, but you’re still getting more speed than responsiveness. I’m not sure that’s what Kirk is looking for. Also, the former forces you to sit inside a kaleidoscope of an interior.

    The downsides to the Miata are hearing all the road noise made by the vehicles around you, sun squeezing through the gap between your sunglasses and your face, and frustration at being stuck behind people taking onramps at 20 mph. In my experience, it’s easier to deal with cold days with the top down than hot. Acceleration will only be marginally better than his minivans’ – probably worse in certain speed ranges – but at least there’s no waiting involved. And the current Miata (the last one too) rolls more than I think it should, stock. But it’s such a different experience from that of a sporty sedan or 5-door. Try it out, at the very least.

  • avatar
    FlyerHIker

    At age 56 I bought my first convertible, an ’07 Miata PRHT. Initially I thought I would just drive around SoCal on days off when the weather was nice. It turned out to be a lot more fun that I had imagined; For seven years I took it on road trips as long a 16 days, and drove ridiculous numbers of twisty, narrow, motorcycle-style backroads with it. My girlfriend (now wife) enjoyed it thoroughly; however, the 5.5 cubic feet of trunk space combined with the transmission hump on the passenger side and the lack of room for her 36″ legs gave me a great reason to upgrade to a Boxster. Of the choices mentioned I would narrow it down to the Miata, GTI, & WRX. Miata if it’s going to be for shorter trips mostly by yourself. WRX is you want a more raw engine/clutch/shifting experience. GTI is you want the most-versatile, most-refined car. They are all good choices and the Fords would work if you want a domestic product. With all the choices available, It’s a great time to be shopping for cars.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    Sure, I’ll toss my 2 cents worth on this pile. I am 52 and have three daughters. Two out of college an one headed off to college in the fall. On January 3 I drove home in a 2001 Miata Britich Racing Green special edition, 55,000 pampered miles, all for the princely sum of $6,800. The car is an absolute hoot to drive. But it is definitely small and is probably not everybody’s cup of tea. Furtermore, you still have two girls to get through high school, and as the OP knows with two out of the house already, things can change dramatically year-to-year.

    My advice? There are pampered Miatas to be found at great prices all over the country. Find a nice one, grab it, enjoy it for a while and decide whether it is your thing. If you still want a brand new one, go for it in a year or two with no regrets. The used Miata provides many benefits in the father-daughter-wife relationship, including the low cost out-of-pocket and the opportunity to teach your girls how to drive a manual shift without having them worry about ruining dad’s brand new car. Seriously. Find a good used Miata and enjoy!!

  • avatar
    amancuso

    The GTI is the obvious good choice, Mazda 3 is a second, but the engine on the base car is slow, and the car itself really could use more sound deadening for wind/road noise in all trim levels. To get a manual equipped closely to a base GTI S you’d be looking at an MSRP with destination of $26,280, and I’d say for that I’d rather have the quicker, more fun to drive GTI.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Has the OP checked out a 2015 Civic Si yet? Without knowing exactly what the ’17 Si will drive like, I’m assuming the switch to turbos and such will lead to a car that’s very quick, but also a little more serious and less lively than the outgoing car. Since you’re already an avid motorcyclist, and are into the Miata (which, excellent choice), it might be worth checking out while its still an option.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I had a Miata for a number of years and it was a great car. I am 5-9 about 140 Lbs and for me it was great. My wife hated the ride and noise. We have three cars in the family so i sold the Miata and brought a 2011 VW GTI with the auto transmission. I loved the car but missed my manual transmission. My wife also drives a GTI and was quite happy with it. One day we had nothing to do and stopped in the Mini dealer to looks at a new Mini. We took one for a test drive (Cooper S) and i was hooked. Only thing is you can end up with over $10,000.00 in accessories before you drive out the door. A few months later i came across a 2013 cooper S nicely loaded with a 6 speed with 14,000 miles that i purchased on the spot. Still had a warranty and service for another year. I sold my GTI 2 weeks later and have put on over 4,000 miles on the Mini. I am 80 years old and still run 30 miles a week. I love this car. When i press on the gas this car goes. Mostly i love how it handles and i love the looks. Of course my wife wanted a new car so i brought her a new VW Golf to keep her happy and she loves it. My advise buy what keeps you happy and enjoy life. For the record our third car is a 1990 VW Cabriolet with about 68,000 miles that looks and runs like new. Just a summer car.

  • avatar

    FYI, as far as interior space goes, the GTI is bigger than the current Mazda 3, which is bigger than the current Focus, which is smaller than the previous Focus. This doesn’t matter since Kirk would easily fit into a Miata, but it is good to know.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      It’s mostly in the rear seat. The GTI’s hatch has more volume on paper, but it’s quite a bit shorter; you can only fit more stuff in it if said stuff is stackable. I thought the GTI’s hatch was too short for me (couldn’t fit our stroller horizontally) so I bought the Mazda3. Its rear seat room is marginal for child seats, but in our case it just works.

      The Mk VII GTI has no steering feel, though. I thought it was nice but not fun.

  • avatar
    slap

    I used to ride motorcycles – I’ve ridden around 50K miles, both as a daily driver and for trips, like from DC to El Paso, TX. A couple of years ago I started thinking about getting another bike. But frankly, the way people drive these days I really didn’t want to get back out in traffic. So I ended up buying a NC Miata. It’s a hoot to drive, and if I need to carry anything I’ll use my wife’s CR-V. The trunk is big enough to go grocery shopping and 99% of the trips I take. As an example, I went to Target, Lowes, and Home Depot today. I didn’t buy the 8′ lumber today, but I bought everything else I wanted.

    • 0 avatar
      kclindley

      Your situation is similar to mine. I see several people looking down at their phone every day when I’m on my bike and I’m concerned that I might get bumped eventually. I think the Miata will scratch my itch for fun trans portion and then I can either sell my bike, just keep it for week-end canyon riding.

  • avatar
    zososoto

    I’ve been lurking on this site for years, and only recently started posting. There are all sorts of people from many walks of life having passionate and serious discourse here, and I appreciate that. From the stodgy right wing old fogies like CJ to the anarchist cartunez and BTSR in the middle, just about everyone gives me pause and makes me think.

    However, there seems to be a trend here that is troubling me. I keep on seeing men lamenting about their “better half” not allowing them to purchase or own toys, even with their own money. This might be a motorcycle, a fishing boat, or old reliable-ish cars such as a 1986 Supra or 1998 Camaro.

    Many times, the men gave up the good fight without being able to muster any protest at all, nay, not even a whimper. “She’d never let me keep this in the driveway.” These men are more content to wistfully long for their playthings than to even broach the issue? Presumably, most of these married men have jobs and support their families. Are they not entitled to a hobby or toys of their own?

    I have 4 sisters and no brothers, and my father is an extremely flawed role model, though he has his merits. I grew up cherishing the women in my family, and eschewing many of my father’s habits, such as his womanizing, and how he treated my mother. I foolishly extended too much kindness, honesty, and openness – as if all women were worthy – to crushes, female friends of mine, or even acquaintances. Only now, at 27, am I learning that I and many other men have gone too far. That many (or even most) women do appreciate a strong, decisive, masculine male. One who DOESN’T find it appropriate to cry while watching a drama. One who assumes the position as leader of the family.

    It might have been endearing, 50 years ago, to call your wife “your better half.” However, let’s not forget that it the reason it caught on was because it was a subversion of the norms at the time. The problem is that now many women and men are actually starting to believe it!

    Maybe I, as a single male, simply do not understand. But how hard can it be to say, “Honey, I’m going to buy myself a 1968 Mustang as a project car. I always wanted one, and I found a nice runner for 8K.” Your responses to her objections? “I’ll be cleaning out the garage to make space.” … “Wont it be fun to drive up to Napa in it on the weekends?” …. . Or if you’re feeling cheeky, “You aren’t going to leave me over a car, are you?”

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      It’s often just a way to justify (to other car guys) what you yourself know is a good idea. Usually in the financial sense. Most people saying that haven’t actually tried very hard to make it happen.

      We just had a baby and I’ve bought a Mazda3s 6MT hatch as my family car (she doesn’t like driving stick, but she has her own car) and I’m keeping the Miata. My wife’s fine with it as long as it doesn’t create a hassle – if it does, she trusts me to do whatever it takes to deal with it. Which isn’t to say I have free reign – there are cars she considers ugly enough that she’d put up a fight if I tried to buy one.

      • 0 avatar
        zososoto

        That’s true. The old blame it on the wife/gf when you dont want to go out with your buds, or camping, or what have you.

        In your case, I think you’re doing it the right way. There’s nothing wrong with you having a car you like, and she gets to have a car she likes. And you have your affordable toy as well. However, she does have some veto power on new purchases. Just like I would want to have if I was married and my wife decided she just needs an Evoque or something like that.

        By the way, I feel like sometimes people who are learning stick hate it because of how nervous they get, especially when the car’s owner is with them. Maybe you should try letting the wife borrow your car? Without your supervision? She might learn to have fun with it.

        A few years ago, I taught my sister how to drive stick. She knew the fundamentals, but had not mastered it. One day, I asked her to pull out my RX7 and put it on the street. My friend and I watched her stall several times, and he was trying to coax/coach her with the process. I then realized the best thing we could do is walk back inside the house and let her do it alone.

        A few minutes later she pulled up to the house, haven taken it for a quick joyride around the neighborhood. She ended up buying a CRX of her own, and now drives manuals exclusively if she can help it.

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