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Fun Car (Mini, TT...)
Last Post 08/30/2013 11:22 AM by Orange Crush. 40 Replies.
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08/27/2013 09:06 PM
I get my fun driving fix from commuting on my Kawi Vulcan but I'm increasingly concerned with the game of pin ball that I am forced to play in traffic. The thought crossed my mind to get rid of the moto and get a fun car. My wife came home from a road trip with her sisters and said "we should get something more fun to drive". I've been casually looking around and narrowed it down to a Mini or a Audi TT. Used TTs hold their value so still cost $$ and I have read about more electronic problems than I care to deal with so that's probably out. There are plenty of OK deals on Minis around here but today I read about the thousands of Mini owners who put $600 timing chains in every 10K and if the don't ,its an $8K motor.

Any input from Mini or TT owners would be greatly appreciated. Other fun car ideas are welcome too.


08/27/2013 10:36 PM
watch out opinion below:

Audi TTs are for women. If you're a woman get one. If not, continue below.

Minis are cool and fun to drive, but really small and not that fast.

VW GTI, fun, small, fast, kinda a younger guys car.

Subaru WRX (STi if you wanna fly) get the 5 door not the sedan and it is a ageless rippin fun car that you can take off-road too.


08/27/2013 10:42 PM
109,000 on my 2009 Mini. Did not get the turbocharged version for a variety of reasons-- I get a spare, regular tires and regular gas. It's fast enough to get the job done, a ton of fun to drive.

Other than routine service: Some electronic part (a grand), new wiring harness (squirrel ate the old one). Tires at 50,000 Plugs at 100,000 ($23.00 each). Oil change every 18,000 miles-- I buy a few filters to keep on hand and get Castrol at the local auto parts store or discount place.

Service is expensive and the dealer is 150 miles away so that's a pain in the rear but I do most of the work myself-- oil, plugs, filters. The newer ones don't have the timing chain issues like the older versions did.

35-40mpg depending on how I drive. Four years ago that was fantastic, now there are mid sized cars that get 38 (but not nearly as fun to drive).

Tons of leg and head room, not much room in the back. The rear seat might work for 6 year olds.


08/27/2013 11:01 PM
Add to PA's list: BMW 1 series.
Too bad the Golf GDI (D for diesel) isn't imported.
FWIW, I know true he-men who "gentlemen race" TTs. These are not stock, but are street legal.


08/28/2013 12:40 AM
Dale, Thanks for the info! What is the year between "older ones and newer ones" in regard to the timing chain issue? The Clubman I might drive this weekend is an '08. The Clubman might be nice for a few more inches of space but not if it takes away from the fun (from what I've read it doesn't). If I get one it will be replacing my moto so no matter what it is it will have more space.

PA, you can't call anything a 'woman car' and then suggest a Subi instead. I drove a TT and you can call me woman all you want it was FN fun! ;]

My neighbor recommended a Saturn Sky.


08/28/2013 01:32 AM
I picked up a Prius C two weeks ago. Not a sports car, but a blast to drive! Now I can lead foot it and get just 40 mpg. (I often get 47 for 9 mile trips with 500 feet of climbing.) I've seen 51.

The driving is decidedly different. Big things like the drive train. Little things like no mechanical gears in the steering so no slop at all. As a package, really well thought out. Much more fun to drive than a standard Prius. (I didn't really give it a fair test. The Prius was an '09, the C new.) But the Prius drove like my Corolla All Trac, totally predictable and boring except better acceleration and cornering. The C feels quicker steering and a lot more fun. The Prius also had the shift lever on the tree and the old left foot parking brake. The C has both on the console where they belong.

Now that I am an owner, people come up to me almost daily and tell me of people they know who have put huge miles on them and done little beyond routine maintenance. Yesterday I heard of a taxi with 360k and yet to see an engine overhaul. I was impressed by my brother's 200k with no overhaul and original battery but now I've heard that story many times.



08/28/2013 03:11 AM
120K on my '04 Mini, non S. The car is not particularly well designed. I have replaced the power steering pump, which is expected every 80K miles or so at $800+ (IIRC). I now have the high speed fan going on after shutting off the engine. I also have to do the "Fonzi", i.e. whack the door above the speaker, to get the passenger window to roll down.

It does work well as a city car. It's easy to park in small spaces. It gets OK mileage, ~28 the way I drive with my CVT. it has a fair amount of room, but I would not put an adult in the back seat for more than a short drive.


08/28/2013 08:34 AM
IIRC, 2007 was the year of the newer engine. The early version was a lot more thirsty-- SideBySide's 26mpg is about what my sister gets out of her R50 (early 2000's).

R50: "Mk I" Mini One & Cooper (2001–2006)
R52: "Mk I" Mini Convertible (2004–2008)
R53: "Mk I" Mini Cooper S (2001–2006)
R55: "Mk II" Mini Clubman (2007–present)
R56: "Mk II" Mini Hatch/Hardtop range (2006–present)
R57: "Mk II" Mini Convertible (2009–present)
R58: Coupé (2012–present)
R59: Roadster (2012–present)
R60: Countryman (2010–present)


08/28/2013 08:58 AM
jmdirt, sounds like you are looking for a roadster

scare up a Miata if you want something fun and inexpensive. They are hugely popular with the SCCA crowd for a good reason; lots of parts available, infinitely upgradable and generally easy to work on. great support network out there, too. Personally, I like the early ones with the 1.6 engine

if you want something with a little more cache, Porsche Boxter - first iteration. Fun to drive, stone reliable but definitely more in maintenance cost

Personally, I would steer clear of any Audi. A mini is tempting, but be prepared going into it, and avoid that new Fiat 500 like an STD. I am sure KR will chime in hear with a few pointers, too


08/28/2013 09:43 AM
ford focus st. not classy but nice looking and a load of hp.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.


08/28/2013 09:45 AM
I have a 2012 Audi TT. Sure, it only has about 220 horses, but when you drop it into Sport mode, it has some serious torque. The Quattro really helps it stick to the road. Beautiful car too. Always getting compliments on it.

It's a fun little car. The "seats" in the back are a cruel joke though.


08/28/2013 09:46 AM
My wife loved her older style TT, which I thought was gorgeous. From what I heard, once they start going bad, they're expensive. We sold ours for a first gen Honda Fit, and it's a fun little car.

I disagree with PA on the WRX - although I like that car, that is also a younger man's car - 20's in my opinion. Almost on par with those older blokes buying new Mustangs ; )

Honda S2000?



08/28/2013 09:54 AM
the only WRX's I see around here usually have a giant wing, blown suspension, loose body parts, a potato launcher looking exhaust, a knock-off energy drink sticker kit and a sketchy looking kid behind the wheel
Yo Mike


08/28/2013 10:38 AM
My fiancee has a 2010 Mini Clubman that she loves. The rear seats are reasonable for a sub-6 footer, and the cargo area with rear seats folded is actually pretty good. It is not turbo, but takes mid-grade gas, so do a miles per DOLLAR calculation. Easy to drive with MT, tho I have not pushed it. Overall, it's too 'cute' for my tastes. I don't like the speedo location and the gimmicky 'mood lights' and 'candy corn' fuel level indicator.

Do be mindful of the spotty dealer network. The local dealership hardly gave her the time of day when she was looking to buy, likely cause they were in demand. She eventually bought at a dealer in another state, about 50 miles away, and got crap warranty service at that more local dealer the past few years. It was low on oil a few months after her last scheduled service!

And FWIW, I classify a greater number of automotive a-holes driving VWs, tho Dodge is a real close second, especially the trucks. Chicken or the egg?

It's just driving, and it generally sucks. The roads are often crap, and crowded. There's a speeder on your butt and and oldster or distracted driver ahead of you, clogging the road. 300 hp does not move you any faster in congested traffic, especially when there is often just one person per vehicle... sat radio, CDs, cell phones, and wifi do what they can to cut the boredom - and up the risks.

My 'commuter' is a 1985 Honda VF700S. Will likely do 80-90 commutes this year, 50 miles RT. Riding almost always beats driving.


08/28/2013 11:23 AM
2007 Mini S owner. Unbelievably fun car to drive, PLENTY fast (better w/kg than most that's out there) and apart from expensive tires it hasn't cost more than gas and oil changes in 40k miles (primary use is wife's short commute).
formerly dkri
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