Saturday, October 10, 2009

The case of the missing manual

We like the Fiesta so much, we sold our regular car. I just couldn't go back to automatic and an SUV. I mean, the handling, the fun of driving a manual subcompact has forced me to rethink what I want in a car. The past few weeks looking at cars has yielded very few results in our price range. In fact, there isn't a manual hatchback that even comes close to the Fiesta in price and fit and finish.

Here's my shortlist to replace the Fiesta:

1. Focus SVT
Drove one and loved it. Problem...most have been destroyed with "upgrades" from Pep Boys or Auto Zone. No thank you.

2. Mini Cooper
Waiting to test drive. Hard to find one in my price range, the ones that are have sold before I got to them!

3. Mazda Protege 5
Waiting to test drive. Same problem as the Mini...people keep buying them.

4. Honda Civic Hatch
I really wouldn't mind having another Honda. My first was a hand-me-down that served me well. My second was a brand new Element. Will there be a third? Hard to find the hatchback civic that doesn't have racing stickers all over it and gull wing doors:

5. Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix
I did a TON of research on these...liked that they were in the price range, even with the 6 speed manual GT version. But there are problems. First off, I read that the paint jobs on these wasn't good. Didn't know what that meant until we test drove one. It was only 5 years old, but the paint was cheap. Faded, thin, and felt horrible to touch. It didn't help that the one we test drove died in a cloud of stinky fumes. Not joking!

6. Abandon hope for an affordable hatchback. Go back to driving something like the Element. It may not be sporty, but at least I'm goin' down the road knowing I can fold my seats up and carry just about anything!

What would you buy with $5k?


Anonymous said...

used Mazda3, used Focus ZX5. Its tough to lower your expectations once you have experienced a Euro Ford made car. They are "spot on" for driving dynamics, plus the built in substance is not the norm found in the North American small cars offered.
Good luck.

Joel said...

that's exactly what we're going through! I don't want to lower my expectations. in my opinion, every car should have this attention to detail without breaking the bank.

out of all the cars i've owned/borrowed/rented/etc. the Fiesta has the right "feel" to it.