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spear322
spear322 New Reader
5/14/14 9:52 a.m.

I need to sell my 2011 Legacy and have decided not to be practical and get something I actually want to drive on a daily basis. I have narrowed down my choices to Mini Cooper S (Supercharged or Turbo), 350z or the RX8.

This will be a daily driver, for the record I used to drive a Miata as a daily and miss it, but I need just a little extra room than can be provided by the Miata. It needs to be reliable as I tend to drive quite a bit.

I am concerned with the maintenance and reliability of the Mini. The 350z is tight for my budget (I would want to upgrade the brakes immediately). The only concern with the RX8 I have is fuel economy.

Which one would you choose and why? or would you get something else? I have a budget max of around 12K and am trying to keep the miles to under 75k. Thanks in advance for the input.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
5/14/14 10:05 a.m.

3.8 Gen coupe.

What? It's not a GRM thread without an option not listed!

rcutclif
rcutclif GRM+ Memberand New Reader
5/14/14 10:07 a.m.

I guess I'd just suggest to drive all three. My roommate used to work as a mini tech and drove those cars (all three) multiple times on trade ins. He would say they are all very different in feel even though they might be really close on paper.

I think he would say the s2000 is better than them all. Might not help your space requirement though.

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
5/14/14 10:08 a.m.

Personally, i'd go RX8. $12k should get you a nice facelift model with some shopping, and it's an incredible car to drive.

Up to you if you want to feed the thirsty beast daily driving, though.

Next in the ranking would be the 350z. (Though, i'd rather have the Hyundai Bob blurted out.)

Then, root canal.

Then maybe the Mini.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
5/14/14 10:16 a.m.

The MINI is a hoot to drive, and annihilates the others on fuel economy.

However, those are 3 radically different driving experiences.

As the only FWD in the bunch, I have a feeling you might prefer the RWD driving experience.

Drive 'em. Report back here. That is all.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde SuperDork
5/14/14 10:17 a.m.

We had a MINI S (2005, supercharged) as my wife's DD. I would not suggest it for a myriad of reasons (as a DD) that you can dig up by searching the forums. If you have a short commute with no interstate driving and are willing to pay the repair expenses.....nope. Nevermind. Still wouldn't DD another one.

I wouldn't DD the RX8. If I was willing to put up with those mpgs, I'd be driving a Mustang or a GTO. Might turn a profit on decreased oil usage that way too. 350Zs just never excited me.

z31maniac
z31maniac UltimaDork
5/14/14 10:21 a.m.
spear322 wrote: The 350z is tight for my budget (I would want to upgrade the brakes immediately).

If you aren't heavily tracking the car, the stock brakes are fine for street work.

I owned mine for about 4 months before ditching it. The rear tower bar killed useful space.

So I replaced it with a Speed 3. Nearly as fast, great brakes, plenty of room.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
5/14/14 10:23 a.m.

If I had to choose between those three, it would be an early blowed up RX8 and then swap it with a 4.8. Should be able to have that done for around $15k.

The mini's are just not that reliable in my professional experience. Too many stupid things that cost an arm and a leg to replace. They are a hoot to hoon in and get great fuel economy but they're ergonomics leave a lot to be desired for me. The 350Z is just a bitch to drive in tigh spaces, heavy traffic. The visibility out of a buttoned up M1 Abrams may be slightly better. I've never felt comfortable trying to back one into a parking space.

That's why I picked the 3.8 Gen coupe. It's got better economy than the RX8, more reliability than the mini and easier to driver/more comfortable than the 350z.

bruceman
bruceman Reader
5/14/14 10:40 a.m.

I really enjoy daily driving my Rx8

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker MegaDork
5/14/14 10:48 a.m.

I drove my friends newer turbo mini a little bit - they seem to have removed the fun of the older supercharged ones and replaced it with obnoxious torque steer.

I have not driven an RX8 since they first came out but I recall that I liked it just fine. People complain about terrible fuel consumption.

I like the 350z too - it feels heavy on track but I think it would be a great street car. I have not driven one in a long time but I was a passenger in one last month. It felt really tight at 170k miles so I think they are screwed together pretty well.

I'd go for the BR-Z

Ian F
Ian F UltimaDork
5/14/14 10:53 a.m.

Of those choices, R53 (supercharged) MINI, but in my case it's a "devil you know" thing. I know the faults with the MINI and can either deal with them or accept them. Space is also an issue for me and the MINI is the smallest of the 3.

That said, I agree about driving all three.

I would also add a Mustang and S2000 to the test drive list.

spear322
spear322 New Reader
5/14/14 10:54 a.m.

I have driven all 3 and enjoyed them. I agree on the viability of the 350z sucks. I did not think of the gen coupe, have not seen any with less than 80k miles on them. An LS v8 would be the future for the rx8 and the 350z if I get either of them. Mustang is an option but I wanted something a little different (I have owned 5 of them, last one was a 96 cobra). I prefer rwd, but did enjoy driving the mini, but it seems to be as expensive to maintain as a BMW (not a big surprise), so it is off the list.

I would love to find a GTO, I have not seen any in my price range. S2000 would also be great, but can not find those in my price range with low miles either, and it is low on space. I was considering a Lexus GS, but no stick option and a bit of a boat.

pappatho
pappatho New Reader
5/14/14 11:05 a.m.

I owned an '04 RX-8 and a '09 R56 JCW MINI.

I loved the RX-8, but didn't drive it much because of the fuel economy. I would usually take the Protege5 in the garage instead to save on gas. I sold the two Mazdas and bought the JCW. I loved it when it worked, but it had a habit of making a knocking noise and cutting power under full throttle acceleration. It is a bit of a long story, but I have been soured on MINIs by how MINI USA and my local dealership handled the problem. If I didn't have such a negative history with MINI I would suggest that.

If I were to get another MINI I would probably look for a 2005 or 2006 Cooper S, preferably with JCW package (or duplicate it in the aftermarket). I like the steering much better on them. However, I like the turbo engine and the sounds it makes on a JCW better than the supercharged engine with the JCW kit.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 Dork
5/14/14 12:15 p.m.

$12k is a nice sized down payment on a BRZ or FRS. Either new or pre-owned. I'd check that out along with the Hyundai.

spear322
spear322 New Reader
5/14/14 1:03 p.m.

I am trying to keep my payments as low as possible, I have about 5 to 6k cash to spend. This would keep my payments to around 120-150 a month. Did some more searches for the Gen.and the only ones close (within 3 hours)either are too expensive or have more miles than I would like. The search continues...

GlennS
GlennS Dork
5/14/14 1:04 p.m.

Lease or plan on selling a mini before it's warranty runs out. If my sample size of one is indicative of maintenance costs then they are very expensive to own.

cdowd
cdowd Reader
5/14/14 1:17 p.m.

Pilotbraden has a 2009 rx-8 that I have driven several times when I had cars down for one reason or another. I really enjoyed it. I would buy one. can't speak to the other ones.

bgkast
bgkast GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/14/14 1:17 p.m.

I recently sold my DD RX-8...too thirsty. Great car though.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
5/14/14 1:24 p.m.
GlennS wrote: Lease or plan on selling a mini before it's warranty runs out. If my sample size of one is indicative of maintenance costs then they are very expensive to own.

Your sample size is spot on from what I've seen.

Bobzilla
Bobzilla PowerDork
5/14/14 1:25 p.m.
spear322 wrote: I am trying to keep my payments as low as possible, I have about 5 to 6k cash to spend. This would keep my payments to around 120-150 a month. Did some more searches for the Gen.and the only ones close (within 3 hours)either are too expensive or have more miles than I would like. The search continues...

Expand your search! Fly and drive in a fun car? Isn't that pretty much every car dude's ideal "long weekend"?

racerdave600
racerdave600 Dork
5/14/14 1:32 p.m.

OK, I own a '06 Cooper S, and a 370Z (close to the 350), and have driven and shopped for a RX8. In fact, I came pretty close to pulling the trigger on the 8. To me, it's probably the best driver of the bunch, but two things killed it for me as a daily. 1st, the mpg. I know to some people that can be an issue, but friends that have them claim 16 to 18mpg. 2nd was the life of the rotary. I'm a big rotary guy, but again, most people that I know with RX8s are on their 2nd or 3rd engine.

OK, now to the other two. Let's start with the MINI, and I'll come right out with it. Maybe mine's a fluke, but I have had zero issues. It's been a fabulously reliable car, good MPG, and probably the best around town car I've ever had. I still get amused that people that complain about the specific problems the car has, will overlook the exact same problems in a BMW. And they really do have the same problems. It's not even that difficult to work on. Yes, I would and may buy another one. I'd love a Cooper Works GP.

The 370Z, well, I just like it. I bought it as a daily driver. It's much better for trips than the MINI, and is bigger inside. Of course it is also much faster, and the MPG isn't as bad as you might imagine. I typically get 23 mpg on my daily commute, and close to 30mpg if I take it on a trip. I know it's not a 350, but the one's I've driven don't feel that different. And if I were going to autocross one, it would be the Nissan. In fact, both the 350 and 370 have been doing very well lately. Of course I think the 370 is mis-classed in the new street classes. It probably should be a B car and not a C.

Anyway, if I were to be given your choices, I would rank them like this: MINI, 350Z, and RX8, especially if most of your commuting was urban.

racerdave600
racerdave600 Dork
5/14/14 1:39 p.m.
Bobzilla wrote:
GlennS wrote: Lease or plan on selling a mini before it's warranty runs out. If my sample size of one is indicative of maintenance costs then they are very expensive to own.
Your sample size is spot on from what I've seen.

I disagree with that. Between mine and 3 friends with MINIs, ('06 S, '09, '05S, and '11S) they have all been pretty reliable. Mine and the '09 in particular have been stellar. The '11 had a flywheel issue and a water pump, but other than that, not much.

mtn
mtn UltimaDork
5/14/14 1:52 p.m.

I'd throw out the RX8 due to the possibility of catastrophic engine failure, and the abysmal fuel economy. If you're going to put any different engine in it, then never mind--I'd probably be driving one right now had Mazda put a 6 cylinder in it. Heck, even a 4.

I'd also throw out the 350Z based on the utility of it--not much more space than a Miata, visibility sucks, MPG isn't that spectacular... It is really great, but just not quite good enough.

MINI seems like a winner, but I'm not a fan of FWD.

Ian F
Ian F UltimaDork
5/14/14 2:01 p.m.

I'm fairly active in the local MINI club, so I know a lot of owners; at any one time more than 50, less than 100 (well over 100 over the past decade). The vast majority of them have minimal problems with their cars. And these are "social" car people - not GRM-DIY types (at least half in the club are women). A few work on their own cars, but most don't even change oil.

Size tends to be a complaint moreso than reliability.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/14/14 2:06 p.m.

Yeah a Toyobaru would be perfect for what you want but price-wise it's in a different league.

The RX8 has an engine that needs a great deal of attention, the Mini is somehow no better overall despite being mechanically simpler (doesn't help that everything is packed into the engine bay so tightly that you have to disassemble the whole front end of the car to do anything) and parts are expensive.

The 350Z would actually make the best DD of your original choices, by far. Not high maintenance, not hard to work on, parts aren't too expensive, MPG isn't terrible.

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