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scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
2/18/23 5:07 p.m.

Ok, today I test drove 3 cars and I'm not in love with any of them.  I'm not sure where to go next.  I want to be in love.  I'm looking up to mid $30 thousands.  But the answer can absolutely be "Wait until you can spend another $10k." 

BIG QUESTION: WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

  1. 2016 Mustang GT manual
  2. 2023 Miata Grand Turing Automatic
  3. 2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo Manual

Mustang - I was impressed with S550.  Shifter/clutch were great and handling was great, but it was bigger than I'd like and 430HP felt intimidating. I liked the immediacy of the steering and the soundtrack.   The Recaros were great too.

Miata - completely let down by the automatic.   Needed a manual.  Also, when the soft top was up, it felt claustrophobic.  I'd love a touch more power, a touch stiffer suspension and a little bit grippier tires.  It felt very tossable and fun and really approachable.  If it was 220 HP with grippier tires and slightly stiffer, it would be perfect.

Nismo Z - Plenty of power.  I could be just as happy with a little less.  The ride was little too rough for bad pavement (and it's significantly stiffer than the regular Sport trim).  The other bit was that it skipped when I hit a bump on a curve.  Really liked the rev matching.   

 

Sonic
Sonic UberDork
2/18/23 5:26 p.m.

A new GR86/BRZ might be the droid you're looking for.  Smaller than the Mustang, more power and a little bigger than the Miata.  Right in your budget. 

What does a lightly used 2.0t Supra go for these days?  

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
2/18/23 5:32 p.m.

In reply to Sonic :

I'm wondering if the GR86 might be "it".  Test driving that or a new BRZ is going to be tough without committing beforehand though.

The place selling the Z had a Supra 2.0 for something in the $40s.  The ATS I'm getting out of has the 2.0T, and I think I'm not a big fan of turbos.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/18/23 5:47 p.m.

How much Cayman will your budget buy? Boxter?

dps214
dps214 Dork
2/18/23 5:55 p.m.

Option a) Wait for cayman prices to come back down or your budget to go up.

Option b) BRZ/gr86 with a front swaybar is basically a slightly heavy version of what the Miata should be. 230hp, good torque, not stiff but better. Still feels small and nimble.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/18/23 6:25 p.m.

I've written suggestions in the body of the test below, in bold 

scardeal said:

Mustang - I was impressed with S550.  Shifter/clutch were great and handling was great, but it was bigger than I'd like and 430HP felt intimidating. I liked the immediacy of the steering and the soundtrack.   The Recaros were great too.
If you switch to the 300hp V6 or 310hp 4T that might take away the intimidation but still leave the shifter/clutch/brakes/seat.  No, this does not solve the size issue but the lighter weight might help some. 

Miata - completely let down by the automatic.   Needed a manual.  Also, when the soft top was up, it felt claustrophobic.  I'd love a touch more power, a touch stiffer suspension and a little bit grippier tires.  It felt very tossable and fun and really approachable.  If it was 220 HP with grippier tires and slightly stiffer, it would be perfect.
Switch to manual is easy.  There may be engine mods that will get you the wanted 40hp more.  Choices for stiffer and grippier are plentiful.  Would a retractable roof help or hurt the clausterphobic feel?  

Nismo Z - Plenty of power.  I could be just as happy with a little less.  The ride was little too rough for bad pavement (and it's significantly stiffer than the regular Sport trim).  The other bit was that it skipped when I hit a bump on a curve.  Really liked the rev matching.   

 

 

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
2/18/23 7:13 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Re: Mustang - The v6 is a decent idea.  I'd have to find one if it feels right.  My gut says "Mustangs need a V8", but as long as the suspension translates, it might be a very good idea.

Re: Miata - I do plan on trying both an RF and manual (hopefully together).  It might be that the manual has just enough extra... extra?

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/18/23 7:35 p.m.

In reply to scardeal :

For V6 Mustangs, the critical year is 2011 which was the launch year of the 3.7L V6 and its 300hp rating.  Previous to this the V6 is the 4.0L at 210hp.  In that same year the V8 went from 4.6L and 300hp to the new 5.0L and 400hp.  The new V6 delivered what the old V8 delivered!  

   

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo UltraDork
2/18/23 8:27 p.m.

You can get a ratty C7 or a really nice C6 Corvette for 30k.  I would buy a ratty C7 because they look so much less dated thatna C6.  Or you can get the nicest C5 on the planet for 30k.  

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
2/19/23 7:41 a.m.

If I'm shopping S550 and don't want to pay the V8 tax, I'd go Ecoboost. One of my track students had one and I was extremely impressed (bone stock).

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
2/19/23 8:20 a.m.
scardeal said:

Ok, today I test drove 3 cars and I'm not in love with any of them.  I'm not sure where to go next.  I want to be in love.  I'm looking up to mid $30 thousands.  But the answer can absolutely be "Wait until you can spend another $10k." 

BIG QUESTION: WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? 

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

  1. 2016 Mustang GT manual
  2. 2023 Miata Grand Turing Automatic
  3. 2013 Nissan 370Z Nismo Manual

Mustang - I was impressed with S550.  Shifter/clutch were great and handling was great, but it was bigger than I'd like and 430HP felt intimidating. I liked the immediacy of the steering and the soundtrack.   The Recaros were great too.

Miata - completely let down by the automatic.   Needed a manual.  Also, when the soft top was up, it felt claustrophobic.  I'd love a touch more power, a touch stiffer suspension and a little bit grippier tires.  It felt very tossable and fun and really approachable.  If it was 220 HP with grippier tires and slightly stiffer, it would be perfect.

Nismo Z - Plenty of power.  I could be just as happy with a little less.  The ride was little too rough for bad pavement (and it's significantly stiffer than the regular Sport trim).  The other bit was that it skipped when I hit a bump on a curve.  Really liked the rev matching.   

 

Tell me about your skills and preferences.   
  Do you like to work on cars yourself and have a good selection of tools  so work isn't a compromise?  
     Do you prefer to work on cars or rather have the dealer/ mechanic do that?  
  Do you like cars that quickly depreciate  to the affordable range , then stabilize and go up in valve, sometimes to the nosebleed area? 
      If you don't want to work on cars, and rather have someone else  do it for you .  Ignore every thing from here on.  
    Otherwise look at z Jaguar. 
     Jaguar has some eye watering cars with sophisticated handling.  ( not race car  stiff but real stick to the road and comfortable)  they are nimble yet comfortable.  
     Fast, really fast!   But not brutal let's go drag racing fast.  They have some powerful and extremely reliable in line 6 cylinders. ( one supercharged)  and V8's  with up to 545 horsepower. 
      Do not look at the smaller cars.  They are basically tarted up English Fords. 
     

Loweguy5
Loweguy5 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/19/23 8:53 a.m.

In reply to scardeal :

As a former S550 Mustang GT owner (2020) I'll tell you the car that seemed like a great package to me;  the Ecoboost.  I read that you're not a huge fan of turbos, but I didn't feel like the EB drove like a turbo.  It more reminded me of a torquey V6.

The have very good power and are both quick and fast.  I ultimately bought the GT because I'm wired to buy "MOAR" but the EB was a really good car.  You can find them with the 10 speed auto which is really good or with the 6 speed manual.  

They made some Performance Package cars that had a little more power and better suspension bits.  At the time I really struggled between the two.

The gooder news is the EB cars tend to be cheaper on the used markets than the GTs are.  They are lighter cars so the dynamics are a little better IMHO and they offer better fuel economy to boot.

Finally, funny enough in my situation I elected to go a different route.  I sold my S550 and bought a really clean S197 Mustang GT stick.  Mine is a 2008, and probably one of my favorite cars I've ever owned.  It's smaller, lighter, slower, and less technologically advanced than the newer cars but for me it's the right fit.

Good luck in your search!

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
2/19/23 11:26 a.m.

Some clarifications and further ruminations:

The intimidation from the Mustang was mostly around "I can easily break traction at 40 or more miles per hour" not "Oh, this is too fast for me".  It's more of a traction vs power issue than an outright speed issue.

With that in mind, since someone suggested Corvettes, do they put power down better than a Mustang?  I mean a C5 is at 350 and a C6 is at 400, both a little lower than the 'stang.  And I'd imagine that the transaxle means they might be a little less squirrelly if I put the hammer down.  Does the real world confirm that?

As for maintenance, at the moment I'm garage-less, have a somewhat demanding job and smaller children.  So, time and space are at something of a premium.  For the next 5 years at least I'm probably looking at most of my maintenance being farmed out.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/19/23 11:41 a.m.

In reply to scardeal :

Your Mustang V8 perception jives with popular internet lore...

frenchyd
frenchyd MegaDork
2/19/23 1:17 p.m.

In reply to scardeal :

That's fair.    Not everybody can and should do their own work.   But I would never tell someone to buy a Jaguar that depended on the dealership/ mechanics.  
    I've constantly heard horror story after horror story about dealers and mechanics.   Unneeded work,  silly prices charged for parts. I had one independent mechanic brag to me that he just wanted to work on the V12 engine so  he wrote a quote up and talked the owner into it.  
      When a former friend of mine lost. A knowledgeable mechanic the guy who replaced him started telling everyone who came in that the engine was bad and the cheapest solution was a Chevy V8.   
      Over time he had swapped out  a lot of engines. That he made me a fantastic deal on just to clear up space in the shop.   I sold a few through ads in Hemmings  over a 5 year period.  And wound up scrapping the rest.  None of them had anything wrong with them.   I know because metal that is "clean" scraps for a much higher price than mixed metals.  So all the steel went in one batch all the aluminum in another etc.   
   

amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter)
amg_rx7 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
2/19/23 4:22 p.m.

Echoing the 86 or corvette options. Great cars. Maybe also consider an Alfa Giulia 

buzzboy
buzzboy SuperDork
2/19/23 9:17 p.m.

Ex drove a 3.7 auto S197 mustang. Outside of my affinity for 3 pedal cars, the only downside I could find was the high window sills impeding sight lines. Was comfy and quiet on road trips, civilized around town and was plenty quick when needed. Honestly, I liked it better than the 5.0 auto S550.

11GTCS
11GTCS Dork
2/19/23 10:15 p.m.

In reply to scardeal :

In regard to Mustangs and breaking loose.  Tires can make a huge difference; when I swapped from the stock Pirelli P Zero Nero all seasons to Continental EC DWS06 it made the car much more manageable.  The Pirellis would get squirrelly with even the slightest amount of moisture on the road, it’s hard to describe how much better the car is with the Continental tires. 

Another vote for the twins! I love mine, and also find V-8 Mustangs a bit much, and Miatas a bit claustrophobic and underwhelming, FWIW. I realize it is tough to test drive one, but they are a fantastic dual-duty platform IMO. Great driver's cars with a little space inside, a real roof, and so much fun on track!

I wish I could easily upgrade my first gen to the latest model in the color/spec I want, but alas, that is not the world we live in these days. Base-model MT Toyota in Neptune Blue (or maaaybe Halo) Toyota without a heavy markup is what I want, but everything I've come across is autotragic, and/or heavily marked-up, or a bajillion miles away from the PacNW. It may also be noteworthy that the option to special-order a Subaru and wait for delivery is heavily compelling (take note, Toyota!) but the Subaru exterior styling pales compared to the Toyota, and if I'm paying a premium and waiting months for delivery, I'm not going to do so for something that isn't exactly what I want. /rant 
 

I also have no experience with a V-6 Mustang, so I can't comment accurately on the potential that is the droid you are looking for. Good luck with the search.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/20/23 12:29 a.m.

Drive the manual Miata and rev it over 6k, you'll find it more rewarding than the slush box. The engine likes revs.  Look for flow and compliance in the suspension. Also, the car hasn't really changed since 2019 so you save a few bucks on the used market. Not many, but some.

You can get 220+ crank out of a 2016-18 with an emission legal turbo kit if you want.

Keep in mind a BRZ is about 500 lbs heavier than a Miata, so it needs 20% more power just to match the power/weight. Power/drag is likely a different story, Miatas have never been slippery. 

scardeal
scardeal SuperDork
2/20/23 10:06 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I've got an appointment to try out a manual today, hopefully.  And I am keeping power to weight ratio on my mind, not just pure power.  These are probably a smidge off, but my mental target has always been the ~ 10lb/hp value.

  • GR86/2nd gen BRZ - 11.2 lb/hp
  • ND Miata - 12.2 lb/hp
  • 2003 350Z - 11.1 lb/hp
  • 2007 350Z - 11 lb/hp (I had loved this when I had it 10 years ago.)
  • Nismo 370Z - 9.4 lb/hp
  • 2016 Mustang GT - 8.6 lb/hp
  • C5 Corvette - 9.1 lb/hp
  • C6 Corvette - 7.7 lb/hp
dps214
dps214 Dork
2/20/23 11:30 a.m.

Just fyi some of those numbers are very off. Miata is more like 12.8, BRZ is 11.7 at best but nominally 12.2 (dynos suggest stock power is a bit underrated)

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/20/23 12:08 p.m.

You should drive a new Mustang with good tires on it.  A tire and wheel swap transformed my 2013 GT.  I should've bought the Boss 302 and kept it.  It was the last great solid rear axle Mustang.  

Old_Town
Old_Town Reader
2/20/23 1:01 p.m.

Could an Infiniti Q60 cure some of the Z faults if you can live with the automatic?

If traction is a concern, $35K may buy a nice Audi TT or Golf R (and get rear seats when needed).  

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
2/20/23 1:08 p.m.

Of course I'm biased, I say 2nd gen BRZ. Mine finally hit 1000 miles last week, so when I went to gas yesterday I finally really opened it up 1-4 on the onramp back on to the turnpike. Plenty of power for a street car. 

And if you don't care about the warranty, tuners are already getting them close to 250whp with a header and E85. 

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