Fun Car (Mini, TT...)
Last Post 08/30/2013 11:22 AM by Orange Crush. 40 Replies.
Author Messages
jmdirt

Posts:653

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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.
pabiker

Posts:80

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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.
Dale

Posts:442

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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.
longslowdistance

Posts:589

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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.
jmdirt

Posts:653

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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.
79pmooney

Posts:1021

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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.

Ben
SideBySide

Posts:142

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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.
Dale

Posts:442

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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)
jrt1045

Posts:357

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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
THE SKINNY

Posts:342

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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.
6ix

Posts:113

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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.
huckleberry

Posts:215

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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?

jrt1045

Posts:357

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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

Posts:254

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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.
dkri

Posts:68

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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
Orange Crush

Posts:1148

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08/28/2013 11:24 AM
I like Ben's pick cause it was made for all the right reasons.

If "fun" is the key metric, stick with the moto, compared to that any car will be "girlie". :-)
Entheo

Posts:316

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08/28/2013 12:30 PM
maybe the most fun car i ever owned was a VW Golf GTI; manual tranny of course. practical too; i could get two road bikes in it via the hatchback.
Keith Richards

Posts:698

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08/28/2013 02:05 PM
How much you trying to spend?

I am familiar with VW/Audis. Love them, but you have to be aware of their problems.

If the model you choose has a timing belt (no matter WHAT car) instead of a chain, they need to be replaced every 60-80k. It just has to be done. Early Hondas had timing belts that needed to be changed as well.

WRX/Sti....great car if you want a toy to drive fast. One look at a Subaru interior compared to an equivalent VW/Audi product and you will see what the term "fit and finish" means. I can put on a tuxedo and dive up to valet parking in a nice Audi/VW product and look like a grown assed man.

Mini's are BMW's version of the VW Golf/GTI and priced accordingly. Again a timing belt. It has to be changed. It is inherit in the design and has nothing to do with the manufacturer. Like I said, VWs GTI beats a Cooper S anyday for an everyday car.

VW/Audi transmissions and clutches are prone to being fragile if not taken care of. I picked up a 2003 GLI with a close ratio 6sp for cheap. I KNOW I will have to replace the tranny as the 1/2 shift fork is only held together with rivets. Water pumps came with plastic impellers from the factory. They WILL go bad. Replacements are metal. GTIs are great cars. WAY better than the equivalent Mini and cheaper. Also used parts are EVERYWHERE and inexpensive for VWs in general.

If you are married, get a VW/Audi product. The Golf/GTI is not the #1 selling car in Europe for no reason.

Would also recommend looking at Acura RSX-S models. Nice car, quick. Has a timing chain so no belts to worry about. Timing chains, if the oil has been changed and checked/topped off as necessary, will go 200k easily unless their is a design flaw, as in the Cooper and 12v VR6 engines in VWs.

On the hybrids. You guys buy your hybrids. Leaves more gas for me...lol!

(edit) NO AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS!!!!
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
mondonico

Posts:32

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08/28/2013 02:35 PM
I have owned A Hurst Olds 442, vet, Audi S4, 64 small block v8 comet conv. Boxster S and a 99 Miata. The best all around blast to drive almost hands down was the Miata. Never had a problem and never had as much fun just driving. Sucks on long trips, not much luggae room, not really fast compared to other cars. But small enough to be just tossed around anything that gets in your way. You want a fun car to drive. I can't believe there are many better when you can put the top down. The Boxster comes in 2nd and for only two people works great for anything. Lots of luggae room so good on trips, shopping. And can be had at a good price used. With the Miata you have to have another car. You might be able to get by with just a Boxster if one chooses.
jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/28/2013 03:07 PM
I'm hearing Miata quite a bit so I'm going to explore that option as well. The local Miata club is huge. I've see them on groups drives stretched out for miles.

Keith, $12K ish.

I have an '06 Toyota Tacoma and a '01 Honda Insight (wife's car). Having a third car is really against the way I think but I'm getting old and need to enjoy life. It seems like the moto is getting more and more dangerous due to distracted drivers. The fun car would take the place of the moto for me as a daily driver and for road trips that don't require the PU. The Insight is still a great commuter but is getting worn out for road trips out of town. I really only need the pick up a dozen or so times per year and have toyed with the idea of getting rid of it but then I need it for hauling something and drop the idea of getting rid of it.
Keith Richards

Posts:698

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08/28/2013 03:11 PM
mondonico, you have the turbo V6 or the V8 in the S4?

I love Miatas. I am a convertible junkie. I firmly believe that everyone should own a convertible at least once in their life.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
SideBySide

Posts:142

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08/28/2013 05:43 PM
+1 on Miatae. They are not the most practical of cars, but a lot of fun.
jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/28/2013 07:03 PM
KR, I had a Buick regal (76) with t tops but they got lifted so I consider that my convert ible. :-)
pabiker

Posts:80

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08/28/2013 09:02 PM
Methinks the VW GTi would absolutely smoke a Mini and/or a Miata. S4 is in an entirely different price category. My A4 (V6) wasn't all that great, my BMW 318i (4dr 5speed) was much more fun to drive, but very hard to find now. The WRX Sti is likely the fastest out of the group and you can put bikes on it and go off-road.

The ones around here aren't teener horror shows more like this, but with roof racks and blacked out wheels.



This is far nicer than a Miata:

jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/28/2013 09:45 PM
PA, just before I came here I was looking at a '02 S2000 with only 35K miles on it (on craigs list).
longslowdistance

Posts:589

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08/28/2013 09:58 PM
I dunno. the S2000 is a splendid track car, but not a good a car to live with day in and day out (contrast with the Miata)
Keith Richards

Posts:698

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08/28/2013 11:27 PM
His wife is going to be driving it, a happy medium has to be reached. The S2000 and the WRX and it variants are a little to severe.

And as a WRX comes out of the showroom, it is no more off-roadable than a Audi Quattro.

The GTI is the best choice. Sporty and practical.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Orange Crush

Posts:1148

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08/28/2013 11:45 PM
Of all the cars listed I'd pick the WRX in a second (I love my Subaru). But for reasonably serious off-roading (things can get sketchy pretty quick around here) you need something with a bit more clearance...the WRX would not have been able to keep up with my Forester on our Wells Gray adventure unless you're willing to commit to some serious underbody damage.

Keith - you're stereotyping (happy medium)!
Ride On

Posts:415

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08/29/2013 06:12 AM
Sicon tC , Never driven one but it looks like a fun car $20K new.
Keith Richards

Posts:698

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08/29/2013 10:21 AM
jmdirt, she can drive a stick, yes?

What are your limitations/wants? Under a specific mileage? Newer than a specific year?
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/29/2013 11:09 AM
KR,

She has never owned anything but man. tran. Neither of us are opposed to an auto though. Our limitations are somewhat fluid at this point but the year is less important than millage because I don't want a used-up sports car. That's a tough call too though because a car with 10K that has been hammered won't be as good a car with 30K that has been babied. It will come down to the inspection and test drive. In the photos of the S2000 that I was looking at the guy's garage floor was cleaner than my kitchen floor. That might indicate a guy who takes care of his stuff.
Orange Crush

Posts:1148

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08/29/2013 12:12 PM
We always buy 2nd hand, to me the sweet spot in mileage in somewhere around the 50,000km mark. By that time you know if engine is a lemon or not. At low mileage you always wonder why car is getting sold.

I'd rather buy one that has gotten some good hwy exercize than a city car, which is hard mileage. We bought a 2nd hand city car for our Tour of Aussie, turned out its lungs were all clogged up from city driving, when we took it out on the Ooodnadata Track all that $4it got shook loose, then when we hit pavement again, klaboom, everything clogged up. We had to drive at 50kph from Ayers Rock to Darwin before we found a mechanic with the proper equipment to clean things out (after waiting for half a week in a 2 cent town for a new radiator that never showed, killing time "gold panning").
jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/29/2013 02:50 PM
I've never been a Subaru fan but since several people thought that the WRX might be a good option I checked Boise Craig's List to see what's around. Aesthetically, its a family wagon, not a sports car (no matter what plastic effects they hook on them). The wagon is more functional but I already have a PU for function. The thing that keeps slapping me in the face about Subaru in general and especially the WRX is that they are over priced for what you get IMO. The used WRX cost way more than the other fun cars (with much lower millage) that we have discussed here.

We're still early in our search so who knows where we will end up but the S2000 and the Miata are certainly on in my mind. I wonder about parts for the S2000? The Mini is still on the list too. I wonder why Toyota doesn't have a car in this area (I guess they have Scion). The Supra was a fun car in the '80s.
79pmooney

Posts:1021

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08/29/2013 04:30 PM
jm, Toyota put a lot of their eggs in the hybrid basket. I suspect that is part of why they have let a smaller part of the market slip.

Ben
jmdirt

Posts:653

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08/29/2013 04:50 PM
Ben, you might be correct on that. An all electric Supra could be a big seller.

One car that I thought of but let slip out of my mind is the Nissan 350 Z.
THE SKINNY

Posts:342

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08/29/2013 05:02 PM
Golf R? fast and comfortable.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
mondonico

Posts:32

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08/29/2013 08:17 PM
To K.R. the Audi was an 07 V8. And the only reason I listed the cars was to show that a small, slower car, can also be a blast to drive. My understanding of the OP question was a fun car to commute in. To replace a motor cycle. Not carry a lot of stuff, take long trips, go off road or race big time. Well maybe a little racing on the way to work. None of which the miata is good at. But it does at least have a servicable trunk that the top does not take up when down, at least the older soft tops. Now a mini sounds like a fun little car and have thought about one myself.
pabiker

Posts:80

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08/29/2013 11:07 PM
Fun to drive and automatic transmission do not compute.

My mentioning the S2000 as better than the Miata was purely a guess. I'm sure it is indeed higher performance, but mostly I think it is a far sharper looking car in that small convertible category. Personally, I'd never own a convertible.

In the money no object fantasy world i'd own a new WRX STi and a Range Rover. In the reality world I'd own a lightly used WRX Sti 5 door and my VW Routon Mini-van. The WRX is likely my next car and; ergo, my son's first in 5 years or so.

steelbikerider

Posts:40

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08/30/2013 12:09 AM
Owned a first year GTI that was my all time favorite car
passed on a chance to buy an almost new WRX 5-door for under 25K
How about the new BRZ or Scion twin?
I would go for any of the 3
Keith Richards

Posts:698

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08/30/2013 09:28 AM
Well, for $12k you are talking about a car with 50k+ in mileage minimum if you want something sporty. You MIGHT be able to get something with less, but it will be tough.

There are a lot of nice things out there used in that price range. They all have their quirks and issues but with internet access you can find out about them before you purchase and find out if the previous owner has addressed them.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Orange Crush

Posts:1148

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08/30/2013 11:22 AM
Patience is key in looking for a good 2nd hand that meets the criteria set out.

It took us over a year to find Forester with right amount of mileage, good maintenance (those were easy) and a stick (that one made it hard but I put my foot down).

Speaking of motorized fun, nephew out in my old home town today.



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