Buy/Drive/Burn: Sporty Compact Sedans From 2006

buy drive burn sporty compact sedans from 2006

In the last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we concerned ourselves with unpopular large luxury sedans. The general B&B consensus at the end of the day was that none of them were a great purchase idea (see, you’re getting the point now). In the comments, Brian E. suggested we cover a trio of compact-ish sporty sedans he evaluated in real life, back in 2006.

So let’s travel to those days before the Great Recession and pick apart some sporty import sedans. By they way, they all have automatic transmissions.

Acura TSX

The first-generation TSX was introduced for the 2004 model year as replacement for the aged Integra, which wrapped up its tenure in 2001. Underneath the badging and bumpers, it’s a Euro and Japanese domestic market Accord. In 2006, slight modifications to front and rear trim updated the design, installed fog lamps, and added five horsepower to the inline-four engine. The 2.0 K-series engine from the Accord is the only mill available, sending 200 horsepower through the five-speed auto.

Saab 9-3

The remarkably long-lived second-generation 9-3 debuted in 2003, and would continue through the 2011 model year until Saab closed its doors. Though the first-generation 9-3 played the role of successor to the popular 900 hatchback model, the second generation pushed forward without a hatchback — on offer were sedan and wagon versions, as well as a convertible. Revised engine offerings in 2006 coincided with the discontinuation of the Linear and Arc trims in North America (V6 trims were still called Vector). Both trims were replaced with the 2.0T trim, powered by a 210 horsepower turbo four.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Our only brand new competitor, Volkswagen’s fifth-generation Jetta, filled dealer lots between 2006 and 2011. The Jetta sat on a world platform that was also used by Audi, Seat, and Skoda. North American Jettas was assembled in Mexico, just like their MKIV predecessors. Today’s Jetta is a GLI trim (known as Sportline in other markets), which swapped out the standard seats with sportier buckets and lowered the profile of both the wheels and the car itself; the GLI sat .59 inches lower than standard models. Power came from a 2.0-liter like the rest of our trio, specifically the FSI version. That engine provided 197 horsepower, traveling through the front wheels via the six-speed DSG automatic.

Three small-medium sedans for the 2006 consumer. Which one do you sign and drive?

[Images: Acura, GM, Volkswagen]

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  • WallMeerkat WallMeerkat on Apr 04, 2018

    Went to look at an Accord (the European version which the TSX was rebadged from), seller said in advert "definitely no check engine lights!". Turned up, the dashboard was lit like the Enterprise. "Oh I know someone can turn the check engine light off!". No dice. To get a CEL in the first place on a Honda it must be catastrophic! Bought a 9-3 automatic. 1.8T, really a 2 litre but only 150bhp. Linear spec, which meant a crappy 4 speaker radio and not many toys. Nice car though, relaxing and did everything I needed of it. Had no interest in this era Jetta, the ricers/boy racers love them. Ended up with a Skoda Octavia, similar but with a fastback hatchback. Of the 3 cars, none are available in Europe anymore (Accord, Jetta and of course Saab went to the wall)

  • MyerShift MyerShift on Dec 21, 2018

    BUY: The Acura. Aside from the issues with Honda's 6-speed manuals (like spitting the lever out of third gear while shifting so you rev like an idiot in traffic a la my '08 Civic SI), it should be the most trouble-free of these three and it has the crispest styling. DRIVE: The SAAB. The most unique car here even accounting for all of GM's stupidity with the marque. Will probably be the rarest in the future. Classic midsize Euro style, but not classic SAAB. Neatest features. BURN: The Volkswagen. Probably the least attractive styling, horrid reliability and durability of electronic AND mechanical components. After my stint in a NEW 2008 Golf V (Rabbit a la North America), never ever again unless I was rich.

  • JMII Nobody in the US was going to buy the more expensive Alfa version anyway. Google tells me Alfa has less then 180 dealers in the US vs Dodge that has over 2,400. And nobody cares how it drives or the quality either, as mentioned its a me-too CUV that apparently the world can't get enough of.
  • IBx1 Maybe if they focused on making good cars instead of anonymous consumer-grade automatic blobs they wouldn't get platform-shared.
  • IBx1 Looks fantastic, especially the front aero feature, but it sounds like an Oreck and no EV will ever have soul.
  • Tane94 are both eligible for federal tax credits? That's the big $7,500 question.
  • Jkross22 Toenail says what?