Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Miscellany: Car shopping

For the last few years (since I destroyed my lovely 944T on January 8, 2006), I've been driving around in my 1995 855T with reckless abandon. With my stay at Northeastern ending in 11 months, I've started car shopping, thanks to a combination of scholarshipped college and some sandbagging on the SAT.

At this point, I've reached an annoying crossroads. The engineers at Subaru have transformed the Impreza WRX STi into an expensive, ugly hatchback, and the WRX is even uglier. I mean, I realize I'm currently driving a car with the aerodynamics of a brick, but I'd like my first new car to look like it was designed by an engineer who owned something other than just a t-square, and perhaps is trying to make his vehicles look more like Ferraris than Kias.

Right now, I'm probably at the point where I need to test drive my candidates. I'm stuck between the STi/WRX/Mazdaspeed 3. The STi is clearly not in the same class as the other two, but as the price nears $40,000, I'm not sure the added performance and reduced fuel economy are worth it. The 3 looks nice, but I'm hesitant to put 280 horsepower through the front wheels. I understand limited slip differentials and other electromechanical doodads can help reduce torque steer, but I refuse to believe that this innate problem with FWD is something they've fixed.

Finally, the WRX. Uglier than the STi, and far uglier than the 3, it's a compromise between both cars. I like the AWD, but I don't like the styling or options pricing. It's also, supposedly, not as fun as either of the above cars.

I've been trying to find additional cars that meet my specs, but haven't had a good deal of luck:
  • seats at least 4, preferably 5
  • at least 250 horsepower
  • 0-60 under 6.5, 1/4 mile in low 14's
  • under $35,000
Anyone with any recommendations or experience with the above vehicles, please let me know.

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