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¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
4/4/18 7:08 a.m.

I am hunting for a replacement for our 318ti- it's getting to the point where it can still be a fun car for somebody who uses it less, but with our typical 30k miles a year of use it will probably become a liability soon.

The Volvo C30 is on the radar, and I'm going to look at one tomorrow.  We want something similar to the ti, but more highway focused since 800+ mile highway trips are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence- I would prefer some sort of GT for this but we typically bring two dogs with us so wagons and hatchbacks are more practical.  What I want to know is if, based on these things about our 318ti, the C30 is a good choice, or if we should look at other things.

What we like about the 318ti:
-Decent fuel economy  
-Manual transmission
-Fun to drive on our choppy PA backroads
-Fits two people, two dogs, and a week's worth of stuff comfortably
-Fits horse stuff, car parts, lots of boxes, etc with the rear seats folded

What we don't like about the 318ti:
-Underpowered
-Buzzy as hell at highway speeds
-Magical disintegrating interior
-Not very rust resistant
-Requires a dyno emissions test (because 1995) which makes legally swapping the engine to fix those first two things questionable

Comments?  Suggestions?  I know from searching that GRM loves the C30, so I'm interested to see what everyone thinks.

Indy-Barely Functional-Guy
Indy-Barely Functional-Guy SuperDork
4/4/18 8:02 a.m.

Turbo Volvo wagon comes to mind. Maybe turbo Saab wagon? Newer, and can be had for cheap, even a nice example.

fanfoy
fanfoy Dork
4/4/18 8:42 a.m.

One of these:

Or one of these:

Seem to be the good choices for you.

The C30 seems a little cramped for your intended usage

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
4/4/18 8:46 a.m.

In reply to fanfoy :

It might be cramped, I have never sat in one to see.  We're pretty happy with the interior space of the 318ti, so if it's any bigger than that we should be OK.  My worry with the bigger wagons is that they might be pigs on the fun roads, but I'd have to drive them to see.  We had a Saab 9-3 briefly, which wasn't terrible but wasn't great either.

pres589
pres589 PowerDork
4/4/18 8:49 a.m.

Make sure you're okay with the mpg's on the C30 as I think they're noticeably worse than a 318ti.

I like the suggestions above.

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/4/18 8:52 a.m.

If manual transmission, fun-to-drive, and fuel economy are at the top of your list ... I’d look into the Mazda 3 hatch. 

If easy high-speed highway cruising, comfort, and space are more important ... I’d consider a Mercedes (S124) 300TE wagon. 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
4/4/18 8:56 a.m.

To be honest I think the absolute ideal answer may be is300 sportcross manual swap.

What about Subarus?  They seem to be the vehicle of choice around here, but it's hard to tell if that's just because everyone is scared of the snow.

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/4/18 9:02 a.m.

Haven’t heard many good things about Subaru reliability lately. Wouldn’t be my choice for a car that racks up 30k miles a year

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/4/18 9:25 a.m.
LanEvo said:

If manual transmission, fun-to-drive, and fuel economy are at the top of your list ... I’d look into the Mazda 3 hatch. 

FWIW, we just did a ~1500 mile road trip in my GF's 2017 Mazda 3 (base 2.0L 6MT). The car was very comfortable, roomy, and quite happy to cruise at interstate speeds for hours, returning fuel economy in the very high 30s (on 87 octane) in the process. The dynamics of the chassis and to a certain extent the driveline are very BMW-like (albeit FWD, of course). I'd certainly put it in the running, given your requirements.

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/18 9:45 a.m.

How about the Volvo V50? Might be harder to find with a manual though. 

tjbell
tjbell Reader
4/4/18 10:20 a.m.

I vote Mazda 3 wagon, or Elantra GT ?

Sonic
Sonic UltraDork
4/4/18 10:31 a.m.

How about an e46 or e9x 3 series wagon? The size and room and sportyness should all be just about right.  Manuals are out there, just take some looking. 

logdog
logdog GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
4/4/18 11:03 a.m.

You are looking for the wrong C30laugh

 

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/4/18 11:38 a.m.

My daily driver is an E90 335xi sedan. Only 50k miles on it, but already quite a lot of maintenance headaches.

Coils and injectors go bad. I just replaced my coils for the second time (in 50k miles!) and replaced the injectors last year. They need periodic cleaning for carbon build up. They tend to be trigger-happy with CELs and such. Flushing fluids isn’t a simple DIY  job due to “lifetime fill” bull, so drivetrain maintenance is tricky. Oil takes a beating; it’s recommended to change every 5k miles with BMW Turbo oil. And, if you let them boost, your fuel economy will dip below 20 mpg.

All in all, probably not the best choice if you’re really going to put 30k miles a year on the car. If you want the car to last, you basically need to do a fairly extensive (and costly) service about every 25-30k miles. With your mileage, that would be annually ... which is crazy. 

dculberson
dculberson UltimaDork
4/4/18 12:10 p.m.

I think the c30 could be a great fit. I loved my turbo 5 Volvo - a ‘96 850 - and the engine only got better as time went along. The platform of the c30 is a good one. I’ve seen manual ones for reasonable prices. The only hitch might be interior room. They have about 20 cu ft of room with the back seat folded down. The 318ti I’ve only been able to find volume with the seats up - I think - at 15.1cu ft. If that’s seats up then I bet it’s over 20 seats down. You’ll need to check it out and see if it will fit your stuff. 

They sure are good looking. 

pres589
pres589 PowerDork
4/4/18 12:20 p.m.

Semi-jack: I am really curious to see what the 2019 Mazda3 ends up looking / being like.  If they can hold pricing close to the current model's, and I bet they can, that vehicle may be very appealing in a couple years for myself.  

NGTD
NGTD UberDork
4/4/18 1:16 p.m.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ said:

To be honest I think the absolute ideal answer may be is300 sportcross manual swap.

What about Subarus?  They seem to be the vehicle of choice around here, but it's hard to tell if that's just because everyone is scared of the snow.

If you have the coin, one of the newer WRX`s with the 2.0L FB-series engines is a good choice. Avoid the 2.5L EJ turbo`s. Lot`s of discussion on ringland failues. The FB`s also get way better gas mileage.

If you don`t want a turbo the the FA engines also get way better mileage than the EJ. I seriously want a Crosstrek with a stick. Most of them seem to have CVT`s though.

MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/4/18 1:53 p.m.

In reply to NGTD :

I have a 2018 Crosstrek with the manual. I have put 15k on it since August I am averaging 30mpg in about 80% highway/20% ciry. The Crosstrek has no power that's why you see them flying everywhere because you have to keep the momentum up. Iirc 8.5 sec 0-60 for the manual and 11 sec for the cvt.

 

The only thing you really need to watch for on the 1st gens is oil consumption.

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/4/18 2:35 p.m.
LanEvo said:

My daily driver is an E90 335xi sedan. Only 50k miles on it, but already quite a lot of maintenance headaches.

Coils and injectors go bad. I just replaced my coils for the second time (in 50k miles!) and replaced the injectors last year. They need periodic cleaning for carbon build up. They tend to be trigger-happy with CELs and such. Flushing fluids isn’t a simple DIY  job due to “lifetime fill” bull, so drivetrain maintenance is tricky. Oil takes a beating; it’s recommended to change every 5k miles with BMW Turbo oil. And, if you let them boost, your fuel economy will dip below 20 mpg.

All in all, probably not the best choice if you’re really going to put 30k miles a year on the car. If you want the car to last, you basically need to do a fairly extensive (and costly) service about every 25-30k miles. With your mileage, that would be annually ... which is crazy. 

The carbon and injector problems are particular to the turbo motor. Stick with N/A and many of the engine-related headaches go away.

 

LanEvo
LanEvo GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/4/18 3:55 p.m.

Good point. The NA engines are port injected. Then again, the platforms is big and heavy enough that FI adds a lot to the fun. Plus, turbo models generally have better options (adaptive HID lights, SatNav, etc. etc.) that make for a more pleasurable driving experience. 

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/4/18 4:19 p.m.

got any info on the 318ti? I miss mine

02Pilot
02Pilot Dork
4/4/18 4:45 p.m.
LanEvo said:

Good point. The NA engines are port injected. Then again, the platforms is big and heavy enough that FI adds a lot to the fun. Plus, turbo models generally have better options (adaptive HID lights, SatNav, etc. etc.) that make for a more pleasurable driving experience. 

Depends on what you want. I specifically looked for a car without Nav/I-drive when I was searching for my 128i. HIDs would have been nice, though. BMW's are mix-and-match for options, so there are unicorns out there with all the goodies on the low-spec engine.

paranoid_android
paranoid_android UltraDork
4/4/18 10:33 p.m.

It sounds like your BMW needs to come live in a state where they don't do emissions testing- like Michigan (tee hee).

My plain 08 Impreza wagon has been berry berry good to me, but the only miles I ever put on it are driving to rallies.  Otherwise I drive it around town, and that's it.  It isn't quite as roomy as I would like and it has an automagic, so I don't know what the manuals are like.  But the NA 2.5 is surprisingly peppy, and AWD is nice in the snow and slop.

What about a Lexus?  Like an IS300 wagon?

buzzboy
buzzboy Reader
4/4/18 11:01 p.m.

The correct answer is obviously 318ti. No, I'm not biased.

It's sad that engine swapping would be hard for you. My s52/ti puts down 213whp and is hella fun to drive. I just need to swap to your higher and more compliant suspension setup.

paul_s0
paul_s0 New Reader
4/5/18 9:49 a.m.

If you're looking at C30s I'd put in another vote for the Mazda 3 hatch as well.  Having had a 318ti (a few years ago) and a Mazda 3 hatch (recently), I'd say interior space was similar, the Mazda probably slightly bigger, I'd also say the Mazda felt a bit quicker than the ti, although it was a few years ago I had the ti.  I believe the Volvo V40 is similar chassis wise, just with a bit more space in the boot.

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