Single Car House - Looking for a Balance of Practical and Sporty - Suggestions?

Disclosure. I am not a car person. To me they are tools that don't need to be more than reliable and not visually offensive. We are a single car house.

The husband on the other hand watches car shows for fun.

We currently run a Mazda 3 MPS. Don't ask me the year, maybe 2011? It's black. It is in fine condition and I think perfectly 'keepable'. However, I am advised we should consider a newer vehicle for various reasons. Some of which I agree with. We are in no rush to buy but I'd like to know what I need to keep an eye out for.

I don't want to spend the earth. That money is better directed at mortgages and holidays. However, we need to balance his desire for something that looks good and is fun to drive with my desire to fit my groceries and two dogs.

I want to go to the negotiation table with him armed with some sensible options. I would be very grateful if anyone could give me some hints on vehicles that might suit us. To my mind we need:

  • Price up to $40k ish. This can be a bit flexible.
  • Up to 18 months old, need not be brand new.
  • Four doors with room for dogs
  • Sporty enough to keep him happy BUT automatic to keep me happy (we currently have a manual but I have a bad ankle and find city traffic is not great)
  • Not an ugly shoe box or a midlife crises car (to keep me happy)
  • Not too much wider or longer than what we have to fit in the garage!
  • Um four wheels?

I like the little BMW hatches but think they are more than I'd like to spend. He likes things that cost about five times what we are spending…

I suspect there is oodles I am missing - this is not my forte. But I do appreciate any help anyone can offer!

ETA - also thought of:

  • Keyless entry/button start
  • auto lights
  • auto wind wipers.

Yes - I'm lazy.

Comments

  • +3 votes

    a used kia stinger gt

    •  

      Thanks - but I've just come up with another criteria - we only have a single car slim garage so it can't be too much wider or longer than a Mazda 3. Which I think the Kia might be!

      • +2 votes

        Ah dang it. Kia Stinger would've been perfect. Here's the Dimensions to compare:

        Mazda 3 (2009 - 2013 Models)

        Length 4,595 mm (Sedan); 4,505 mm (Hatchback)
        Width 1,755 mm

        Kia Stinger

        Length 4,830 mm
        Width ‎1,870 mm

        So yeah. Longer by 235 mm (than Mazda 3 sedan) or 325 mm (than Mazda 3 hatchback) and Wider by 125 mm. Hmmm…. it's likely got better parking sensors? (I really like the Kia Stinger haha)

        •  

          I'm impressed that you've bought the figures to back this up!

          Sadly for me I have the hatch and I'm quite confident the garage does not have another foot length ways in it with what we have stored…

          Width though I'll concede we could have made it work.

        •  

          @PugHugger: Yeah fair enough, it's a fair bit longer. Probably for the best, I've moved to larger cars from a smaller hatchback and getting used to the size re parking (even outside) etc was a chore.

        •  

          @HighAndDry:
          has anyone actually bought a stinger gt? I have seen like one on the roads ever! Don't think they are a huge hit as ozbargain makes them out to be. I wonder about their depreciation rate too…

    •  

      Beat me to it. Was going to advise getting a 2016/17 Kia Stinger. Will still have about 6 Years Warranty left, is Auto (doesn't even come in Manual, sigh), big enough PLUS is a hatchback for practicality, drives amazingly (according to every review) and should match up with OP's budget.

      •  

        I agree. Kia stinger indeed was the first car that came to my mind.

        @OP as previously suggested, I highly recommend you seriously consider the stinger (Like HighandDry, I also just really like the car) haha!

        •  

          Where would one be best placed to look for one of these Kia Stingers second hand for under $40k? I'm seeing around the $60k for used.

        •  

          @casey2:

          I'm not well versed in car prices for this particular car but I was fairly certain it was a reasonable priced car, and likely to be in OP's budget.

          If you can't find anything that cheap yet, maybe best bet is just to wait it out until the car gets a tad older and people start selling.

  • +8 votes

    Skoda Octavia RS?
    It's a wagon, 4 doors, enough room for groceries and 2 dogs and it's an RS. (Really Sporty /s )

    Ignore this just saw the comment.

    How big are the dogs? Maybe a Golf GTI?

  •  

    Toyota CHR or Mazda CX3?

    New hot hatch Corolla coming.

    •  

      Actually I had the CX3 on my list so thanks! The Koba CHR looks nice also. Shall have a nosey at one. Thanks.

      • +4 votes

        Just to temper your expectations a bit, most SUVs (because of their higher center of gravity, weight, etc) don't correlate with "fun to drive". Exceptions do exist though.

      • +1 vote

        Not sporty in the slightest. You will loose the negotiation at the mention if these vehicles.

      • +1 vote

        I wouldn't go for crossover SUVs. Theyre not a sporty car in the slightest and a lot of car enthusiasts basically despise the class.

      • +2 votes

        The Koba CHR is hideously underpowered. Have a look at the Hyundai Kona instead.

        But as already mentioned in this thread, a SUV isn't exactly 'sporty' and I wouldn't have thought they would be as fun to drive as your current car.

        • +1 vote

          These are all front drive, high CoG SUVs w small engines and brakes.

          Defining 'sporty' would help. What allows one car to handle a corner safely, let alone recover when it slips out, is one of the most important aspects of safety, (not just front end collision test results). *Important, because at some point, it will happen.

      • +5 votes

        The CX-3 is very small, it's basically a Mazda 2 with black cladding and a teeny bit of extra rid height. Also not even remotely fast, so if you're looking for a performance step up from the 3 MPS, this definitely isn't your car.

    •  

      lol an 85kw CHR, the blokes going to get to the supermarket in 2 hours … she did specify fun to drive, not retiree car to drive to local rsl and back

  • +6 votes

    Small to mid sized sporty wagons are your friend. Look at Octavia RS, Golf R Wagon, Renault Megane GT and Subaru Levorg. All have auto versions.

    Hatch versions for the first 3 as well if they're too long for your garage.

    • +2 votes

      Thanks - to be honest most of those words mean very little to me so I shall google them. Although I think I'm still angry at VW…

      •  

        Although I think I'm still angry at VW…

        Why's that?

        If so, the Skoda Octavia is a Golf underneath. So then maybe just look at Renault Megane GT and the Subaru Levorg for small wagons with a bit of go.

        • +7 votes

          Emissions. I just think it's poor form for a company of that size.

        • +3 votes

          @PugHugger: Fair. Though…. that rules out most of the European brands. VW got caught first so they got the most PR flack, but from what I've read, every single European car maker was doing the same thing, and even some Japanese brands.

          https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/19/many-car-...

          Unfortunately you're going to have to cross out far more than just VW if you're going to go down that route. (Not saying you can't - I can understand the need for people to vote with their wallet, but just letting you know it's not as simple as avoiding just VW). From the article… actually just scroll down to the graphic which lists "Breach as a multiple". It's practically every major car maker.

        •  

          @HighAndDry:

          Thanks! I will in fact strike out more - happy to do so to be honest! Thanks for letting me know it was more than VW. I have to admit my understanding is mainly based on John Oliver's segment but it is important to me to not buy from a company engaging in these practices.

          Pity in some ways, I suspect the Golf would have been a good fit!

        •  

          @HighAndDry:

          Wow, why haven't I been made aware of this yet. Thanks for referencing the article, it was an informed read. British Land rover and the other European brands having bad emissions is expected but what surprised me are the Korean brands Hyundai and Kia, and American General Motors's brands Opel/Vauxhall. I thought they were ethical.

        •  

          @HighAndDry: I heard just yesterday that Mercedes got pinged for the same thin but in Germany

        • -1 vote

          @HighAndDry:Although, just by avoiding VW, you directly hurt them and put the fear of god into the others who just happened to not get caught. Seeing the damage it did to VW will encourage them to change their ways. So what I’m saying is that by crossing VW off your list and buying some other European car, you are still doing something effective.

        • -2 votes

          @HighAndDry: VW were intentionally cheating the tests though. The other manufacturers get poorer performance when you change the test method. It's possibly an issue with the test method not being representative of real world driving, not an issue with them cheating it.

        • +1 vote

          @AddNinja: Not a chance. They are all doing it, and will continue to do so because they are used to getting their way with the idiots in charge of the BIG wheel!

        •  

          @resisting the urge: Well, VW is not doing it anymore. And I’d bet that other car companies that are faking test results won’t keep doing it. And if you were VW and you knew your competition was faking their emission results - well what would you do?

        • +1 vote

          @PugHugger:
          Golf would be a great fit. A GTI. Good looks, sporty, 4 door, boot space, nice interior, smooth to drive, auto, decent on fuel, reliable enough, safe, spacious enough, fits in garage, joy to drive.

      • +1 vote

        Glad to see an ethical person that cares about future generations :)

        •  

          What kind of driving will you be doing for recreation? country/snow/unsealed roads.
          If its one car only i recommend some sporty all wheel drive. ie a WRX.

          I have a Renault Clio RS, but while I love the car I'm struggling with how im going to go to the snows this winter and the future.
          Snowchains dont fit and will foul the wheel arches/suspension. I believe this is the same with the Megane and many sport cars with lowered suspensions and 18+ inch wheels.

          edit: replied to wrong thread

    •  

      Good advice.

  • +1 vote

    Hubby is the car guy, let him do the research. You get better buy in than suggesting something ozbargain thinks is good, but he wouldn’t drive. Both agree on the criteria, then tell him to work it out.

    • +7 votes

      Hubby is the car guy, let him do the research.

      #metoo

      • +13 votes

        So much more concise than the three rough replies I came up with.

        No doubt when we need a washing machine next my turn to shine will come…

        • +1 vote

          I think that was taken the wrong way! Wouldn’t matter if wifey was the car nut and hubby thought the current car was fine. Set the criteria together, let the car nut do the research, agree on the outcome.

        • +4 votes

          @Euphemistic: Yeah I think OP is hoping to not come home to a new MX5 or Supra in the drive-way….

        • +3 votes

          @HighAndDry:

          Or a Jaguar/Porsche/Lambo or anything else costing more than 20% of the value of the house!

        •  

          Do your own research and have the knowledge to back up your position. Practicality Vs Sporty is one thing but you also don't want to be saddled with a car that costs a fortune in upkeep. I agree with others that the hot hatches are probably a good compromise all round - as long as the back seat folds down so you can carry shit home from Ikea.

        • +2 votes

          @try2bhelpful:

          The Honda Jazz was the BEST car for IKEA. I loved that car so much. We sold it when we went to a single car house and it makes me sad constantly…

        • +5 votes

          My interpretation was its not about your gender, its about your interest.

        • +1 vote

          @jacross: it’s about making sure the car suits both people’s needs. This is best done by making sure both people are actively involved in the research and the decision.

        •  

          @Euphemistic:

          I accept your apology

        • -2 votes

          @PugHugger: Put your bid in for something you want, this is your car too. Frankly, who gives a toss what a car can do 0 to 60 in; it should be how easy is it to drive, how safe it is, how practical it is and how much it is going to cost you - both to purchase and over the lifetime of ownership. Being a car "anorak" can well mean you lose sight of the day to day use of a car by being too caught up in the specs and/or the "image" of the car.

          We have one of the previous version Mercedes A classes; the one that looks like a smaller B class. It can get some speed up for overtaking but it is an immensely practical car. You can get many cases of wine, and ikea shit, in it - even more when you fold the seats down. It does break the costs rule though, a tad too expensive but a really nice car.

  • +1 vote

    what about a 1-2 year Golf R hatch? or even a wagon if you can fit it in your garage.4wd, fun drive, comfortable and plenty of room for a hatch.

  • +3 votes

    i30 SR, yes it's not the N or even considered a hot hatch, but it's warm enough and comes with all the modern features.

    • +1 vote

      just bought one 3 weeks ago after having looked at the i30n and some 1 year old Golf GTIs.

      Though the SR is nowhere near in the same league as those two, my criteria for a car sounds somewhat similar to OP.

      IMO some of the suggestions people have put forward are certainly more in the category of sporty and less in the category of practical.

      In the end, i came to the same mind as the OP which is that the money saved in going the i30SR route would be better off in a holiday or mortgage. For me, the i30 SR was more practical financially (that and i really had to think, how much of that extra power am i really going to make use of in the city?).

      no the i30 SR wont turn heads or light up the road, but if you're trying to balance practicality and sporty, it does hit the balance well.

  • +2 votes

    the i30N would be an amazing choice for you and your husband but it's only in manual :(

    •  

      I'm getting one nearer the end of the year and excitement doesn't do what i'm feeling justice.

  •  

    Sounds like what you say he says he wants is not even half of what he actually wants

  • +1 vote

    Not sure if the etiquette is to reply to each suggestion individually or just add on down here… No doubt someone will correct me!

    Thanks for the suggestions. I've been googling. I quite like the idea of something Toyota/Honda/Mazda ish. Simply because I've had them all before and nothing has ever gone super wrong.

    I'm quietly confident the i30 won't fit his preferences.

    Any opinions on the Civic Luxury VTi-LX? I know he would strongly prefer a turbo in anything we buy. Me, I activated ours once. Almost…

    • +1 vote

      The etiquette is flexible. If you're replying specifically to a suggestion, reply to that comment. If you're replying to a bunch of comments all at once, like you're doing here, a new comment is fine.

      I don't think an i30N would fit the bill, just because it doesn't have the catchet and head-turning factor of other suggestions. I'm also not sure it's that much of an improvement over the Mazda 3 MPS either. For basically the same reasons, while I'm a fan of the Civic, I'm not sure it's got the 'oomph' factor.

      I personally tend to shy away from European cars, but if you're upgrading from a 2011-ish Mazda, and in the future will stick to a similar upgrade timeframe (i.e. less than 10 years so the car will be mostly under warranty and not holding too long term), then I might actually second a 1-2 year old VW Golf R. THAT has catchet, will be a solid step above even the Mazda 3 MPS (and the i30N and Civic), will have all the bells and whistles, and really can't be improved on in its market segment.

      •  

        Helpful response on a number of levels thanks!

        Yes upgrade timeframe to remain about the same. Possibly shorter from this next car to the one after depending on how Tesla perform…

  • -1 vote

    The most costly and pointless waste of money you can pursue

    Marcus Padley, SMH, 12 June 2018

    https://www.smh.com.au/money/planning-and-budgeting/the-most...

    • +2 votes

      OP is upgrading from a ~7yr old Mazda 3 MPS, so I'm not sure how your comment really relates.

    • +2 votes

      Don't know how good his advice is if he says having kids are the worse investments he's ever made.. maybe he's not a good father?

  •  

    On a side note - can you hug the pugs for me. We had them when I was young and they are great little dogs. Big dogs in little dogs bodies - but they are extremely stubborn and fearless. The other problem is their sad eyes, and big bellies, mean they tend to turn into ottomans.

    • +1 vote

      Happy to hug the pugs. Stubborn, fearless (apart from my umbrella, that is a scary thing apparently) and greedy little fur balls that they are!

    • -1 vote

      There's nothing great about a dog bred with inherent breathing problems, skin disorders and eye problems among many other genetic deformaties. But hey "it looks cute!!!" to some people I guess.

  •  

    Hi PugHugger, could I please ask what the reasons were to buying a new car? Your Mazda 6 MPS is a sporty, powerful vehicle that fits all of your criteria, except the "up to 18 months old". I'm just curious on this one because I cannot find any good reason why you would want to replace the Mazda 6 MPS.

    •  

      Its a 3 not a six, no idea if that makes a difference.

      It is not an urgent replace, far from it. However my ankle is such that the clutch is starting to become frustrating in city traffic.

      It is also of an age where we can get an okay price for it second hand without off loading a money pit to someone else.

      It is not something we need to replace otherwise. And if I'm going to be honest I'd keep it until the Tesla's were available as I don't drive it often… but the husband does work hard and would like a newer toy!

      • +1 vote

        Oh right, Mazda 3 MPS and oops, forgot about the ankle detail. Nevertheless, it doesn't make a difference in terms of fulfilling your criteria.

        I would definitely buy a new automatic car because of your ankle and your health is important in my opinion. I'll advise on selecting a suitable car because car looks can be subjective. My suggestion is a 150kW-200kW (To compare, your Mazda 3 MPS has 190kW), hatch and automatic car that you think looks good. Avoid brands such as Suzuki and Nissan who uses European high emission engines and Korean makes Kia and Hyundai for the same reasons according to HighAndDry's article post. European makes would turn you off due to bad emissions and prices well over 40k too.

        Choosing a car with this advice will definitely fulfill your criteria. Following my advice, the cars on the top of my head that I think looks sporty and meets your criteria include Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R, Subaru Impreza hatch, Mazda 3 hatch. The focus RS and civic type R are over 40k if bought brand new but I believe you can get it for under 40k for around an 18 month old year model.

        •  

          Those two both came to my mind as well but both the the Ford focus rs and Honda type r are only available with a manual transmission. The only auto car that meets the sporty requirement coming from an mps is a golf gti. A auto mini Cooper s not as sporty but better than most. The other option but that meets all other requirements but price audi s3 about 60k for car 1 year old

        •  

          @Fornax:

          Oh I thought manufacturers would have an automatic option now for those two since automatics are much more favourable now due to efficiency. In that case, the normal focus and normal civic hatch can be an alternative. Golf GTI is an option but OP doesn't like Volkswagen due to diesel gate.

  • +1 vote

    I hear Dodge is releasing the RAM 1500 in Australia soon ;)

  • +1 vote

    I think that the hubby's proposal of upping the budget by 5x is a fantastic one.

    In that category, I suggest the upcoming RS6 or the recent E63.

    The biggest reason - :)

  • +3 votes

    Looking for a Balance of Practical and Sporty

    2012 Camry + fluffy dice.

  • +3 votes

    Subaru WRX - available in auto 4 door
    Golf R - auto 4 door

    Satisfy yourself with these two vehicles and I can guarantee your negotiation is as good as done.

  • -1 vote

    2016+ Volvo V40. w/ LED head lights for future proof. 4 Door Hatch. Comes in nice colors. Known to be Safe yet stylish. All the bells and whistles. Certain models can get a performance upgrade package. Costly service.
    2015+ Nissan Juke. AWD. Funky design/ crossover look. Certain models has keyless start, cruise control and rain sensor wipers. Not too expensive. Not everyone taste in the looks department.

    •  

      While I know some Volvo models are fairly sporty, I'm not sure how that would go over as a "compromise". I've never met a car guy who wanted a Volvo.

    •  

      If your hub is having a bad day, tell him that you are thinking of the nissan juke as the fun sporty car upgrade.. might just get a few chuckles out of him

  • +3 votes

    Subaru Levorg? Basically a Impreza WRX in wagon format. I'm assuming a wagon would be advantageous for your dogs.

    Only potential downside is how it compares size-wise to your Mazda 3. I imagine it'd be bigger, but not stupidly so.

  •  

    —-edit—-

    I had recommended a Subaru WRX STi, but the STi models only come in manual. I'm not as sold on a plain WRX since the auto version has a CVT (as opposed to a 6- or 8-speed auto, or DCT, etc) (it's still a great car, just not that much of a standout) - can still give it a look. It's definitely sporty, also practical as it's a hatch. It has the brand recognition of a WRX (performance reputation, not necessarily a premium/luxury brand per se), is arguably safer as it's AWD for better traction, and again, definitely sporty. And new 2018 models are perfectly in your budget range of $40k.

  • -1 vote

    Thanks for the suggestions all. I feel mildly more educated but still not thrilled about this exercise. When we get around to making a decision I shall try to post an update.

    It is such a pity the Type R Civic is so ludicrously styled…

  •  

    Most cars today have sporty performance if that is what OP means.
    Best advice is to short list 3 cars that suit and take them for a drive.

    • +4 votes

      Most cars today have sporty performance if that is what OP means.

      That's just not true at all. The most popular car in the world - Toyota Camry - is far from sporty in its base trim level because while it has a decent powerplant, its combination of high curb weight, large size, and soft / comfort-tuned suspension means it's absolutely not 'sporty' at all. That's just one example.

    •  

      Agree. The sports mode button on my astra was fully sik bro

  •  

    Renault Megane GT. I think that is the small stationwagon version. Not a sports car, but could be ok as has boot for the dogs. But check it out.

  •  

    As others have said, Subaru WRX CVT. It seems to fit all your criteria and you can pick up a 2017 model for well under 40k.

  •  

    Nissan Xtrail

  •  

    Skoda Octavia RS or Superb 206 TSI AWD. The Superb will be used given the budget, but it is a very good all rounder. The Octavia is more overtly 'sporty' but is not AWD.

  • +1 vote

    Get a used M135i.

    Fits everything you've listed, and it's a BMW.

  • Top