Advice for a new sports sedan

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by jsiu, Jun 26, 2007.

  1. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    I'm looking to purchase a new entry-level luxury sports sedan within the next month or two. At around $30K, I've found the main competitors to be the Acura TSX, Audi A4, Lexus IS250, BMW 328i, Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT, Saab 9-3, and Volvo S40. I will only be purchasing one with a manual transmission.

    To be honest, I'm most interested in the TSX due to the extensive list of features which come standard on it. Many of the same features are options on the others which would bump up their price significantly. The TSX is also the only car I've test driven as of now, which I was thoroughly pleased with, especially once the needle went past 6K RPMs. The shifter was smooth, but precise and the engine wasn't as gutless in the lower RPMs as I had been led to believe by many reviews (expert and user). Though this may be because I've never owned a very powerful car (1993 Toyota Celica GT-S for 6-7 years before it was totaled by a drunk driver last year, sister's 2002 VW Jetta 1.8T since then). And let's not forget the interior, which is extremely nice and ergonomic.

    It may sound like I've already reached my decision, but I like to be thorough and will be test driving the competitors to make sure I'm not missing something. I've researched all of these cars, but was hoping you guys could provide your feedback on any of them (especially if you own) to provide another perspective. Thanks!
     
  2. maczter

    maczter Life is trying things to see if they work.

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    Given those choices, I'd stick with the Acura, the Lexus and the Volvo.
     
  3. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    Thanks. For the most part, I'm familiar with the specs of the IS250 and S40. The IS has a slight power advantage over the TSX, and is probably the closest competitor. The S40 T5 models do have a significant power advantage, but seem to require a lot of costly options. Both will cost a few grand more than a TSX it seems, which I probably won't mind paying if it's worth it.

    Can anyone tell me more about these three cars? Your opinions? I've read a few reviews on the IS and S40, but if you own or if you've driven them before, I'd like to hear your feedback.
     
  4. E-dub

    E-dub New Member

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    Discounting the other cars based on RPM range is not a good idea especially for a heavier daily drivers where you really want more power down low; the TSX is one of the more gutless cars on that list. The Legacy GT would be my pick here; plenty of torque, best looking in my opinion, aside from the fact that I hate the gurgle of the Subaru exhaust but that is easily fixed with equal length headers. I would stay away from the Volvo and Audi since resale on those is terrible. Only get the Lexus if you can spring for the IS350.
     
  5. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    The TSX definitely has the least amount of power of the group. When I test drove it, it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, though like I said, that's probably because I've never had a powerful car. It seemed like a fun car and I really enjoyed the many features and comforts which come standard with it. The optional voice-activated navigation system was also amazing.

    I certainly like the 2007 Legacy GT, especially from a performance standpoint. In addition to performance, the AWD also makes it attractive for when winter rolls around and I want to hit the slopes (I live in California) or when my buddies and I go camping every year. My reservations with it, however, are its poor gas mileage, apparently less refined interior, and AWD practicality. I have read that Subaru build and interior quality has been improving. My next car will be taken to autocross events, but it must be a reliable and comfortable daily driver first. I just don't know if I can justify purchasing an AWD vehicle since I won't encounter many conditions where AWD is needed. That said, I'll still likely take it for a test drive to find out for myself. Thanks for your input.

    Are there any other cars I might have neglected on my list that I should consider? Any additional feedback?
     
  6. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Volvo S40.

    I like the way the Legacy GT looks, but you can't beat Euro refinement (so long as it resembles something durable, anyway).
     
  7. art_VW_shark

    art_VW_shark OT Supporter

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    a 30k 328i doesn't have an engine :rofl:
    edit: does trhat get you a loaded S40 w/T5 and AWD? that may be one of your quicker options...
     
  8. SilverJettaGLX

    SilverJettaGLX OT Supporter

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    How about the new G35?
     
  9. project15

    project15 New Member

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    How about something used? 30k can go a long way in the used world.
     
  10. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    I'll look more into the S40 and give it a test drive. I'm not that concerned with power so long as it's fun to drive and a bit sporty. I've never owned a vehicle with a power rating north of 200 HP, so for me, the cars I've listed so far are decently quick sedans. My primary requirements are reliability (low cost to own), comfort, and good fuel economy. Again, this will be my daily driver first and an occasional weekend autocross car second.

    As for Infiniti, I think a G35 Sport 6MT with even a few options will put me out of my budget range. I don't have anything against purchasing a used car, but I think I'd prefer a new one mainly for peace of mind. Plus, this would be my first new car purchase. Is there a particular used car you think I should consider?
     
  11. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Not once you factor in diagnosis and repair of problems you don't know about and the previous owner won't admit to.
     
  12. red97gst

    red97gst New Member

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    I was in a similar situation a couple of months ago, where I was pointed to the A4 2.0T by deusex :p

    Of course this was in the realm of European cars only.

    Of those cars, I've driven the Legacy 2.5GT, S40, IS250, and A4 (3.2 not the 2.0 since they didnt have one)... all in manual tranny.

    I drive a 97 Eclipse GST, not super powerful, maybe around a mid-high 13 second car in its current state, and I really found the IS250 way too slow for my taste. It had the "sport" package which includes nicer wheels, suspension, front spoiler, so the handling and looks were very nice. But it really was gutless. The 06 S40 n/a I drove wasnt fast either, but didnt feel as slow as the NA 4-cylinder lexus. I really think the Volvo is a neat car, it's got euro flair and costs much less than an Audi, but it's also a smaller car and makes very strange noises sometimes when you drive it. The T5 has great low-end torque with minimal turbo lag, but will come at the expense of MPG like with the subaru.

    I really was surprised by the Subaru and thought it had a great ride and felt like a RWD car (40/60 torque split F/R vs 50/50 in the Imprezas IIRC) when you pushed it hard (with the recovery of an AWD of course).

    The Audi had amazing steering feel (IMO) , the wheel stays where you point it, it's not overpowered like you're used to in japanese and american cars. But not overly heavy like in a 3-series. Although Ive only driven the '05 3-series and not the 06+ so they probably pussified the steering a bit on the new ones


    All these cars are so nice that it really comes down to what you think drives the best and is a good financial compromise for the fun. Coming from yoru celica youre gonna love all these cars. If you plan to keep the car after the warranty expires then i would probably not go with the Saab, Volvo or Audi as they are pricey to maintain if you are droppin em off at repair shops. The Saab also has HORRIFIC resale value, and the german cars will depreciate about $3k/year.
    TSX/Lexus will hold their value the best due to their reliability, although the subaru is almost as reliable and more versatile and fun to drive IMO... I can't stand what Subaru did to the '07 legacy exterior, so i'd probably get an 06....

    Do you plan to mod the car or keep it stock? If you want to mod it then def go with an Audi 2.0T or Subaru GT due to the HP/$ value with the turbo'd motors. The Volvo also is turbo but there's not as much aftermarket support from what I've seen. I think that a 300+HP S40 would be the biggest sleeper of the group...

    Drive em all and see....if "features" are most important then you will clearly like teh Acura/Lexus most, if you like Luxury you'll love the Audi, and if you like power you'll like the T5 S40 and Subaru. The saab sucks for resale/reliability (although i love the styling) and the BMW is just very expensive any way you slice it. New styling also blows unless you drop it on some 19s...
     
  13. red97gst

    red97gst New Member

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    im such a faggot with these long ass posts
     
  14. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    Thanks for the input, it was very informative and nice to get some feedback from someone who's driven these cars. As of now, I do plan on keeping the car for as long as possible, so the cost to own/maintain (reliability) is very much one of the deciding factors. Power, as I mentioned earlier, isn't a deciding factor for me so long as the vehicle is nimble and fun to drive. Plus, more power comes at the cost of lower fuel economy, which is very important to me. So I guess I'm leaning more towards a car that's safe, comfortable, and comes with a lot of goodies. Each of these cars has its strengths and weaknesses, so picking one with a good balance of performance, comfort, safety, reliability, features, and practicality is damn difficult.

    I think I've narrowed it down to the TSX, IS250, A4, and Legacy GT. This represents a good spectrum of power and luxury that I'm willing to accept. I'll take each of these for some test driving next week. As always, any additional input, feedback, or suggestions are welcome! Thanks everyone.

    :bigthumb:
     
  15. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    If you want power AND fuel economy, then you DEFINITELY want the Volvo. Turbocharged cars run like big engines and cruise like small engines, so they're the perfect mix -- that's why they're so popular in Europe among people who can afford them. Why buy a V6 when an I4 with a turbo can do the same job without chugging away to itself at stoplights?

    To that end, the A4 might seem like a good choice too, but unless they dramatically improved the suspension compared to the previous version, then you'll be replacing suspension arms every 25000 miles or so. (ask me how I know -- go ahead, I dare you.) The Legacy GT is possibly more reliable than either the Volvo S40 or the Audi A4, but I guarantee it's not as safe or as comfortable as the S40 is. (the AWD on the Legacy, while fun and WRX-like, is frankly not that important on a sedan as opposed to a coupe -- you just don't drive a sedan like it's a pocket rocket.) If I had my last car-buying experience to do over, I'd have gotten the S40 instead of my Passat (i.e. an A4 with different body panels) without hesitation.
     
  16. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    That's a good point. I should probably replace the Legacy GT with the S40 as one of the four to test drive in my last post. How's the turbo lag on the T5s? I'm currently driving my sister's 02 Jetta 1.8T and though the turbo kicks in pretty early, it still irritates me from time to time especially considering the engine's small size.

    How's their reliability and how well do they hold their value? Acura and Lexus vehicles are highly regarded in both areas and admittedly, I'm not very familiar with Volvo's reputation. Cost to own the vehicle beyond the warranty period is important to me as I will be purchasing with the intent of keeping the car as long as possible.
     
  17. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I don't know what mods are available for the T5, but I do know that $500 spent on the the 1.8t will cure it of its turbo lag but good. A new engine computer program plus a relocated and upgraded diverter valve (aka a blowoff valve that blows off into the airbox instead of the atmosphere, so as to avoid throwing off the airflow sensor readout) makes the 1.8t shine like a diamond. I imagine there are similar solutions for the S40, since it's basically Volvo's Jetta.

    Check this place out: http://forums.swedespeed.com/
     
  18. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I don't plan on doing any engine modifications (at least not immediately), but I'll give the S40 a test drive.
     
  19. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    I have owned two volvos... both whiteblock inline-5 cyls. Do NOT fuck with the engine.
     
  20. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    What happens if you do?
     
  21. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    well one was a turbo 2.3L and once you mod one thing you just can't stop with everything else. Improving one aspect will require improvements in another, and then you get it stable and you go one step further because that's what you do when modding a car.

    The other was a n/a 2.4L and that ran into tranny problems. Killed the torque converter in short-order. Then it's the more of the same.


    Volvos are FUN and reasonably reliable if you take care of them. But my advice is to buy one the way you want it and leave it alone.
     
  22. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    jollyogre, assuming you're involved with the Volvo enthusiast community, what can you tell me about the S40 T5 (FWD or AWD)? What have owners' experiences been like? What are some commonly encountered problems that you've read about?
     
  23. Slimmy

    Slimmy Get Richt or Die Trying

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    In your situation about two months ago, I made the decision to get a TSX.

    And I love it. :coold:
     
  24. jsiu

    jsiu New Member

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    What other cars were you looking at? Would you mind explaining how and why you decided on the TSX?
     
  25. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    I used to hang out regularly on mattsvolvosite, turbobrick, and volvospeed. However, I stopped doing so when I got rid of my Volvo in 2005. Unfortunatly, the current-gen S40 was released later that year. As a result, I do not know too much of the technical details behind that model. If it matters at all to you, I would love to have one, and if I changed my mind about having another car payment, I'd get one in a heartbeat.

    However, check out the volvospeed community, as when I was an active member it seemed to have the most chatter for the different models. I bet you can have all your questions answered there.
     

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