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Help me pick another horse for the stable:

  • 2002 GTI 1.8T

    Votes: 3 8.6%
  • 2002 A4 1.8T

    Votes: 4 11.4%
  • 2002 BMW 325i SP

    Votes: 10 28.6%
  • 1998 M3/4

    Votes: 5 14.3%
  • 2003(?) RX-8

    Votes: 11 31.4%
  • 2003(?) G35 6 speed

    Votes: 2 5.7%

Which second car should I get?

1319 Views 21 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  TD
Which second car should I get? Should I go for the:

GTI (Nice fun and cheap)

A4 1.8T (Nice, almost as fun, but not as cheap)

325i SP (Very nice but somewhat dull next to an M3)

Used M3/4 (Then have two of the same car but increase my chances of actually using the second one as a commuter car rather than just driving the M3 all the time. Also, finding a good used one is tough)

Wait for the RX-8 (Can get a wicked discount, car looks fun, but it means one more year with the 92 Sentra)

Wait for 6 speed G35 (Ugly, unappealing interior, but looks like good performance and relatively cheap)

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Thanks for all the input. I didn't include the Acura because to get a stick you have to get a two-door, and in a car that size I'd prefer to have 4. Plus, it's FWD, and the G35 and RX-8 (probably) will both offer similar performance for a similar value.

The VR6 is a good thought, but in truth I've driven the GTI 1.8T and don't mind the four. It's lighter than the VR6, and the turbo lag is surprisingly mild. The VR6 is quite a bit more expensive, and just doesn't seem worth it. On the other hand, the tires/chassis of the GTI do suck; a far cry from my old A2 GTI.

Reliability is another concern, but there's little chance I'll have this car more than three years (and I'll probably lease), so as long as it's not in the shop every day, I don't so much care if the engine grenades at 100K miles.

Finally, with respect to the C Coupe, I drove one at the Power Trip and was really not impressed. On paper, it looks great, but in person it feels cheap (and rattly) and has the Mercedes trademark numbness. The GTI is a superior choice, IMHO, even with FWD.

The other option that I didn't include is the V8 S4, which is substantially more expensive than any of the above but that may be worth it.

I'm thinking what I'll do is nothing now, and wait for the RX-8 to hit the streets. That design has a lot of potential, and it's hard to argue with the price point. In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes open for good M3/4s, and if I find one of those, maybe I'll pick it up.

geomax said:
Since you're used to the BMW's smoothness, the 1.8T engines will probably come as a big disappointment. Having owned an Audi 1.8T in the past, I was never thrilled with it's performance, especially in hotter weather. The turbo lag just plain sucks. The VW 1.8T has the same engine - you could chip either car, thats true. But there are downsides to doing this such as voiding the warranty, and reliability of the turbo becomes a big question. And you're still stuck with the turbo lag.

But if you like 4-bangers and turbo's, etc - Have you considered the Benz C Coupe?

Supercharged 4 cyclinder, rated at 190hp. Seems like a fun car, and starts around 25,000. Can get pricey with options, but you can pick and choose. MB has a car config website, and there are extensive options for this car.

Otherwise, I think the GTI VR6 is a really fun car. The VR6 engine is potent, but the suspension needs work. On the flip side, for commuting, the suspension would be a lot more comfortable. The GTI VR6 also comes loaded with all the toys. I though I heard that it will soon be offered at 200hp. But I'm not sure. I'd still take the 174hp 6 over the 1.8T anyday - smoother and more torque. (Rumor has it that in 2004, VW will offer the GTI with AWD and the W8 engine. Now that will be interesting!)

I would also consider the Acura CL, type S with the 6 tranny. Again, a lot of bang for the buck, more comfort than sport, and RELIABILITY if you're going to do a lot of commuting miles.
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TD said:

325i SP - Why bother? It's expensive for what it is and will never compare favorably to the M3C, so it'll never get driven and end up as an ultra-low-mileage trade-in.
I don't have quite the anti-E46 fervor that you do, and if it were just me I'd always pick the 325 over the A4. However, my wife really likes/wants an A4, for reasons that have nothing to do with driving dynamics, and she doesn't really like the 325 as much.

For a commuter/trip car, I think the 325 is a nice balance. However, your point about the 325 never getting driven is very valid. When I had both the 323Ci and the M3 for a couple of months, I had to force myself to drive the 323 occasionally, and I was constantly looking for excuses to drive the M3 instead. I suspect it would be the same with a 325 (and, FWIW, I don't understand why ALEX325i would ever drive his 325 over his M3).

I'd feel a lot better about an M3/4 if I could buy one less than 4 years old. I've already committed to owning one high-strung 4 year old German sports car, and I'm not sure it's such a good idea to have two. Plus, variety is the spice of life.

I saw a really nice M coupe at the dealer last night, but the last thing I need is to add something smaller, faster and louder to the fleet and have the M3 be the "family" car.
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TD said:

Our cars both get driven as one is the slower CONVERTIBLE and the other is the FAST sedan. Since you have a FAST CONVERTIBLE, it almost assures the "other" car will be second-fiddle regardless of what it is.

I can also see an argument for an AWD A4, especially if your wife will be driving it most of the time. The Quattro is definitely confidence inspiring and it's one of the reasons I would think to replace my wife's 323iC with an S4 (or even A4) Avant rather than with a BMW wagon. (The fact that the AWD BMWs do not come with a sport suspension AND that the Quattro system is far superior to BMW's AWD system are also very important.)

I guess I should pick on you for posting something asking for opinions without detailing your needs. If I were you, considering that the M3C isn't allowed in CCA driver's schools, I'd want to get something I could track which would favor the M3/4 or RX8.

But to find a commuter that you might actually select over the M3C on occasion, you're really down to the GTI, RX8 or M3/4. None of the others would ever leave the driveway given the choice.
Yes, I should have been more specific. My needs for a second car are pretty much as you've described them. I want, in roughly this order:

1. A car that I can use to commute in and keep some miles off of the M3.

1.5 A car that is fun to drive and reasonably fast.

1.6 A car that doesn't cost a lot to maintain.

2. A car that I can use on trips, to keep some miles off the M3 (which is a bad trip car anyway).

3. A car that I can use for track days/driving schools; it doesn't have to be blazingly fast, but the understeering GTI probably wouldn't be too much fun.

4. A car that I can haul big stuff in, such as Ikea flat packs or my bike.

5. A car that is safer than a ten year old Nissan.

Obviously, number 3 and number 4 produce conflicting recommendations: A GTI would be good for 4, but not 3, and an RX-8 would be the other way around. An M3/4 would, of course, perfectly meet all of these criteria (as long as I could find one with folding seats), except (probably) 1.6.
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