Buy/Drive/Burn: Hot Japanese Sport Compacts From 2009

On a recent Buy/Drive/Burn that featured some alternative Japanese compacts from 2008, frequent commenter theflyersfan suggested a second look at the same three cars, but in hotter variants. Today’s the day, and it’s 2009.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Alternative Japanese Compacts From 2008

In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we considered the Mazda Protegé, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Subaru Impreza sedans from 1998. Most of you preferred the Protegé as your Buy of the three. Today we fast forward to the same offerings in 2008, and see if things shake out differently.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Alternative Japanese Compacts From 1998

Our last two Buy/Drive/Burn entries covered the 1998 and 2008 versions of three mainstream Japanese compact sedans: Civic, Corolla, and Sentra. Today we look at the alternative offerings in 1998 from Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru.

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Rare Rides: The 1995 Mazda Lantis V6 Type R, Don't Call It 323

Today’s Rare Ride comes to us courtesy of commenter Bumpy ii, who linked this imported JDM Mazda on the Thunderbird Rare Ride posted a few weeks ago.

Let’s check out a compact five-door liftback with a very small V6.

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Junkyard Find: 1995 Mercury Tracer Trio

Kicky appearance packages and vivid colors were all the rage among Detroit makers of cheap econoboxes during the late 1980s through middle 1990s, and so it became necessary for the Dearborn masterminds to create a Mercurized Ford Escort that would enthrall younger car shoppers. Thus was the Mercury Tracer Trio born. Here’s a screaming purple ’95, spotted in a Denver self-service yard.

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Piston Slap: American Rust Vs. Japanese Rust?

Stefan writes:

Sajeev, I recently had a conversation with my cousin in Wisconsin. He claimed that cars assembled in North America are more rust prone than cars assembled in Japan or other oriental countries. Apparently his observation was based on several cars in our extended family: An elderly Dodge Durango and a not-so-elderly Honda Odyssey with the traditional clapped-out transmission.

I have never seen any statistics to support these ideas and really don’t recall reading suchlike statements in the TTAC in the past. That older American cars rust more than newer Japanese, and vice versa, seems natural and I recall seeing many old Japanese cars with severe corrosion damage, but what is the truth in this matter? Over to you and the B & B!

Stefan (’97 Fat Panther without a speck of rust)

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Piston Slap: A Rather Thirsty Escort?

TTAC Commentator Weltron writes:

Hi Sajeev!

The car I am writing about today is my winter beater, which is a 1999 Ford Escort SE sedan which says it has a tick over 155,000 miles. The problem I’m having with it is it it getting dreadful gas mileage. My average tank is about 19 miles to the gallon (in comparison that is what my twin turbo straight six Volvo gets around town). Over the winter I replaced both of the o2 sensors and got a marginal improvement (about .4 mpg).

And here’s the kicker: the dumb thing runs perfectly. No error codes or anything. Idles smooth and everything (well as far as Escort refinement goes). When I go on the highway (which is fairly often) I can see upward of 21… If I’m lucky.

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Hammer Time : Pick Your Stick!

5 cars – 5 sticks = 0 Customer Demand

I hate looking at that equation. But these days, it’s about as true for the car business as Georgia is hot. An older stickshift vehicle that isn’t an all out sports car will sit at a retail lot for months on end.

Nobody knows how to drive them except for those folks who are either too middle-aged, too arthritic, or too affluent to buy an older car with a manual transmission.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s five vehicles that have become the equivalent of heavyweight paperweights at my humble abode. The funny thing is I like driving them all… I just wish I wasn’t two stickshifts away from driving a different handshaker every day of the week.

They are….

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Piston Slap: Throwing (Ignition) Parts at a (Fuel) Problem?

Chris writes:

Hey Sajeev,

Long time lurker here. Since you asked so nice, here’s a problem that I haven’t managed to troubleshoot myself, and so far my own searches & forum postings haven’t nailed an answer. My girlfriend drives a 99 Mazda Protégé. If driven for an extremely short distance (like from the street into the garage), it will not start the next morning. It turns over just fine, but doesn’t catch.

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Review: 2010 MazdaSpeed3

Most cars today avoid doing anything terribly well so as to avoid doing anything terribly badly. Then there are Mazdas. I love my Protege5. The agile chassis is a joy around town, BUT refinement and rust prevention were clearly not on the engineers’ to-do list. I love the RX-8 even more. Outstanding handling, surprising utility for a sports car, BUT the rotary is torque free and can drink a Corvette under the table. And then we have the MazdaSpeed3. You already know what I’m going to say about the MazdaSpeed3. But I’m going to say it anyway.

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  • Jho65697139 That's going to take a lot of buffing.
  • Corey Lewis No need for unique qualifications to care for this thing, it's just a Corolla with a different body on it.
  • Jeff S How's you Fiat doing?
  • Syke Had the exact same car, only difference is that the trim was the JDM bB rather than the American xB. Enjoyed the car immensely, originally bought it because it was excellent for transporting my then-invalid wife and her wheelchair around. Best thing about it? I also owned a Porsche 924S at the same time. I could go from the Porsche to the Scion and not feel disappointed by the difference in the way they drove.
  • Tassos I have never driven this loser, but I was driven for 4 hours in the smaller XA. I had to go from Ann Arbor to CInncinatti to buy my second E320 Bluetec, and a post-doc of mine offered to take me in his pitiful XA. Luck had it that the April 2017 day we drove down there was windy, and the tiny, very lightweight, sorry excuse of a vehicle frequently felt like the wind would take it and smash it . Those of you who have a clue, will easily imagine how different was my experience on the way back, driving the 4,000 lb E320 sleek sedan.