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Discussion Starter #1
I am pondering finally replacing my SUV for something I would rather drive. SWMBO takes a dim view of Mini Coopers and the like.

I was thinking, what out there in the econo box realm handles well enough that a minor suspension upgrade would make it at least interesting.

I don't need it to go fast, just make my daily exit ramp a little more fun. Maybe frighten the occasional townsfolk.

I'm not looking for a WRX or Civic SI, just something unassuming



Ideas?
 

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I am pondering finally replacing my SUV for something I would rather drive. SWMBO takes a dim view of Mini Coopers and the like.

I was thinking, what out there in the econo box realm handles well enough that a minor suspension upgrade would make it at least interesting.

I don't need it to go fast, just make my daily exit ramp a little more fun. Maybe frighten the occasional townsfolk.

I'm not looking for a WRX or Civic SI, just something unassuming



Ideas?
Honda Fit. Especially the Sport version (bigger wheels). Handles great out of the box, all the car magazines applaud its handling. Engine is the basis for a Formula series.

Unassuming, AND the way the seats fold, also crazy practical. Has more cargo space than a mid sized SUV.
 

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Honda Fit is a good call. I know they are getting old but the original Scion Xb was an absolute hoot to scream around in. My wife had one with a set of light wheels and sports tires and the handling was excellent. That thing got red lined at every gear change and never skipped a beat! It was really roomy as well.
 

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We have a 500 Abarth. It was dirt cheap, handles quite well, and certainly can scare the neighbors.

Of course it also drinks a quart of oil every 1000 miles but, you know, Fix It Again Tony.
 

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My daily is an Si. Other than being orange it does not seen assuming to me. Lotsa fun with the manual, handles decent as stock but I’ve wondered what a few minor upgrades might do. Brakes are the weak link. And first gear very short.

Interested to see what you decide on. A good little project, the sort of thing that’s practical and a good return on investment.
 

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Less is Better
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I am pondering finally replacing my SUV for something I would rather drive. SWMBO takes a dim view of Mini Coopers and the like.

I was thinking, what out there in the econo box realm handles well enough that a minor suspension upgrade would make it at least interesting.

I don't need it to go fast, just make my daily exit ramp a little more fun. Maybe frighten the occasional townsfolk.

I'm not looking for a WRX or Civic SI, just something unassuming



Ideas?
What other criteria do you have? How old or new do you want to go? Why did you eliminate the WRX?

I absolutely would stay away from the Mini but then again, I wouldn't daily any European car. They are just plain inferior to the Japanese and domestics for long term TCO.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
We have a 500 Abarth. It was dirt cheap, handles quite well, and certainly can scare the neighbors.

Of course it also drinks a quart of oil every 1000 miles but, you know, Fix It Again Tony.
Funny that when searching for thoughts came across a video of an Abarth being rolled in an autocross. I guess they are being 'outlawed' for being too short wheelbase and tall
 

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My 2013 Hyundai Veloster turbo is it’s just enough to have a little fun in an otherwise mundane commute. Looking to sell it soon as my wife now has the longest commute and wants something bigger, but it has nice features, been 100% reliable, and they are dirt cheap !
 

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Wingless Wonder
1988 Esprit Turbo
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My daughter has a well-maintained (by me!) '07 Fit, manual trans, 150K miles.

She is suffering from foot pain so is planning to sell it and buy something with an automatic.

I agree, the GD Fit is a fun-to-drive little box.

PM me if you want to consider this one.
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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There are quite a few choices in this space. 'Economy car' covers a lot of ground. You also haven't said if you will be buying new or used and if used, how old you're willing to go. Another question is how much economy you want and how much performance you want. Likewise, if you want AWD, the WRX is likely your first choice. There's some tuning support for all of these, but if you give more detail on what you want, what you don't like, and how old / how expensive, these can be tailored:

Sedan:
Civic SI
WRX
Corolla XRS (if used) / Levin with M20-FKS if new
Jetta GLI (some years - goodness depends on the Euro-dollar exchange rate, among other things)
Mazda3 with the 2L engine

3 door hatch:
GTI

5 door hatch:
WRX wagon
GTI
Fit
Mazda3 with the 2L engine

Recent years of the Diesel Jetta would also get an honorable mention - they scoot quite well (variable nozzle turbo among other tricks) and get 700 miles out of a tankful.
 

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As stated kinda depends on what you are looking for, price and, 2wd or 4wd

I am a fan of ford’s focus and fiesta ST. Both are pretty laid back from the oooks department and offer good economy and performance. I am not much of a fan of the interior (dash layout) of either car however that’s a area I can deal with due to handling/performance etc.

I have been driving a friends fiesta SE and for being the model below the ST (basic suspension and NA 4 cal engine) it handles pretty well, is descent in the acceleration department and is comfortable to drive.

Older and cheaper Saab 9-3
 

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2005 Lotus Elise; 2007 Lotus Exige S; 2012 Porsche 991S
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I was going to second the comment on the GTI, that is just an all around great car.

Also, I haven't driven one yet but I really love the styling on the Ford Focus ST. And it's gotten very good reviews.
 

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you said nothing about your budget :)

On my wishlist are plenty dailys:

BMW 3 Series - 6 Zyl. -> NA Engine & RW drive
2013+ Mazda 3 -> 2l Engine -> NA engine & beautiful car
Lexus GS450h // 600h - Electric power tuned for fun and not for economics like the toyota models :D

if it should be smaller:
Mini -> the ones with SC
Suzuki Swift 1.6l (easy bold on SC on pre facelift ;) )
Renaultsports Clio III -> 2l NA! :)
 

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you said nothing about your budget :)

On my wishlist are plenty dailys:

Suzuki Swift 1.6l (easy bold on SC on pre facelift ;) )
Renaultsports Clio III -> 2l NA! :)
I don't believe these are available in the States
 

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08 Elise SC
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If 2-door body style is OK, I'd throw the BRZ/86/FRS out there. Pretty light compared to most normal cars, low center of gravity and high agility. Not speed machines, but a joy to flog and you can always boost them later if you want more go. It's got two seats in the back that can be used in a pinch, and a big enough trunk for daily use. Other than being a 2-door coupe of modest size, they don't really shout "hey look at me" like some other cars do. Later model years can also be equipped with upgraded suspensions and brembo brakes.

WRX is a solid choice, as is GTI (but of course, it's FWD). Civics drive decently, but I can't look at them. You may also score a deal on a leftover Fiesta or Focus ST. Depending on where you live, if AWD is desirable, Impreza is another option.
 

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Civics drive decently, but I can't look at them
The new type 10 Civics are an horror to look at but the earlier ones (ours is a 9) are not so bad.
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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I forgot to mention the Fiesta ST (just as much fun as a Fiat 500 Abarth, but with better dealer support and more cargo space). The Focus ST also is quite popular and so probably quite tunable as well.

The 500 Abarth is a stupid amount of fun for not much money on the used market. It does require some mechanical chops, though, unless you're one of the lucky few with a good FCA dealership nearby.
 

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Puff Daddy
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I also vote for the Focus ST.

The Fit is nice but holy cow it's slow and gets terrible fuel economy for what it is...
 
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