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  1. #136
    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Here I try to summarize the review of the cars, the results of my researches about them, and my thoughts about the cars I drove in a few key words. This should be helpful for someone who is looking for a fun car to buy too.
    I am adding more car reviews to the top of this comprehensive post. More reviews are coming....

    UPDATE:

    ================

    2013 Mazda 3 Manual

    Pros: Nothing special to mention.
    Cons: The gearbox was hard to operate; I didn't like it. The manual gearbox in this car is not for fun, rather for saving money! A very normal and typical car.
    price range: $20k and up.

    My thoughts and decision: The Mazda I drove was the base model. It was a very mediocre car, at best! Some consider the 3 series Mazda as an affordable fun car. But to be honest, I couldn't find anything special about this car. It is just one of those 4-door family cars that people buy as an appliance to go from point A to point B, that's it. If I want to buy a simple, affordable car to a friend or a family member who is not enthusiastic about cars, I might consider this car as an option. They had a Mazda speed3 in their lot. But after driving the regular 3, I was so disappointed that even didn't want to try the speed3.

    ==============
    Fiat 500 Turbo

    Pros: Distinct design inside and outside (I am not sure in a good way or a bad way).
    Cons: I didn't feel very comfortable inside because of very upright seating position. The sports suspension was a little bit harsh, but the car still wasn't fully well planted on the road. This car is small, but it is heavy! The suspension is harsh, but the car doesn't feel very well planted.

    price range: 20k and up.

    My thoughts and decision: Based on what I read and see, the Fiat has succeeded in attracting the young buyers, and the buyers are not just female college student; I saw young couples buying the 500 as their family car. There is the regular 500, there is the 500 Abarth, and there is the turbo version which fills that gap between the regular and the Abrath models. The Turbo version, as its name suggests, comes with a turbo engine, but its turbo is smaller than the Abrath. The turbo model has sportier suspension and also it comes with a few more body panels and upgraded rims and blacked-out headlights and taillights. Nice try, Fiat, but thanks, this car is not for me!


    ============
    Audi A5 2.0T Premium Plus, Quattro 6 speed.


    Pros: Pure sex on 4 wheels! It looks great, inside and outside! This car really feels special It was a blast to drive this car. 2.0L turbo engine loves to be revved! The Audi's 6 speed manual gearbox is very fun and easy to use. The combination of the 2.0L turbo engine the 6-speed manual transmission makes the car a very fun car to drive.
    Cons: I have nothing to say!
    Price range: 25k and up! The early model-years came with 3.2L v6 engines. And if you look hard enough, you may find one for about $25k. The specific A5 that I test drove was priced around 36k!

    My thoughts and decision: I saw this Audi A5 when I was driving by the dealership. So I pulled over to see what it is. When I saw the price tag, I told the guy that it is out of my budget and I don't want to waste their time and even sit inside that car. They offered me to show me a few fun cars with manual gearbox that they have in their inventory: Mazda 3 and the Fiat 500. After I didn't like the 500 and the Mazda 3, the manager himself asked me to test drive the A5. I was crystal clear with them that it is out of my budget and I have no intention to buy that car. But they insisted that this is just a no obligation test drive. So I accepted, and now I am really happy that I drove that beauty! I loved that car, totally loved it! The A4 is a very nice and fun car to drive, and A5 is almost the same car, but much more beautiful and exclusive! I was all smile when I was driving the A5. The car looks, feels, and rides excellent! Do I want to buy that car? No, because of its price tag. Also at this price range, A5 is right in the ally of ATS and newer BMWs, the cars that might be better than the Audi A 4 and 5. But who knows, maybe after a few years I buy a used one that has lost a big chunk of its value.
    ============
    Audi TT (MK1 1998–2006)




    Pros: A very good looking coupe; fun to drive; the only (?) coupe in the market with AWD option; good handling.
    Cons: Questionable reliability; expensive to fix and maintain; not very quick, especially the 180hp versions and/or AWD trims; some may dislike the way the car looks; heavy for its size (especially the AWD versions); rear seats are useless, and the convertible model even doesn't have the rear seats.
    Price range: Anywhere between 5-14k.

    My thoughts and decision: Some love, and some hate the TT's design, and I LOVED its design. It is not a very quick coupe, but it is very very fun to drive. I was all smile when I was driving a manual, quattro, 180 hp TT. It has a tiny engine, but you root for this tiny engine to go.... Another interesting thing about this car is that you can have a lot of fun without driving very fast and putting yourself in trouble and danger! While I was shifting at redline, which was very fun, I took a look at the speedometer and I was just doing around 45MPH! If I had pushed my STS that hard, my speed would be a 3digit nuumber! There is an old saying that driving a slow car fast is much more fun than driving a fast car slow, and this TT is a very good example of this saying! I have some concerns about "cost to own" of the TT, but TT is still in my list! I have spoken with a few private owners, who say 1) they have all maintenance records, 2) there is nothing with the car, and 3) willing to have the car PPIed by the Audi dealership. The asking prices are around 7-8k, and the mileage of these cars are about 60-80k miles. The Audi TT is not a very bad option.
    ====

    Audi A4 S line (B7 2005-2008)









    Pros: looks and performs sophisticated; a handsome car; very good looking without seeking attention; low-profile design; very refined, detailed, and elegant, but at the same time minimalist and purposeful interior and exterior design; very fun to drive (especially manual and S line A4), very sporty ride.
    Cons: It is a FWD car if you don't buy the Quattro A4; It can be expensive to maintain and fix.
    Price range: Anywhere between 8k-25k based on the trim, mileage, and the condition.

    My thoughts and decision: I drove a six-speed, A4 S line and I LOVED it! What a great car, and the S line package makes the Audi a delightfully fun car to drive! Everything seems and looks sophisticated and refined, but without any extra or crazy addition. In sharp contrast to many other cars in its class, Audi's design is not for attraction of attention, rather it is for its own purposefulness and perfectionism. I love this combination: Sophistication without being attention thirsty! Audis are infamous to be expensive to own. But based on my research, it seems that this generation of Audis (2.0L turbos) are quite reliable, except some coil pack problems that the Audi has issued a recall and takes care of them and also these coils are not even very expensive to replace by the owner himself.
    My main problem is that, the Audi A4 S line is a 4-door FWD car. It could be a perfect car for me if I wanted to replace my main daily driver (the STS). But as a second, fun car, I am not sure this is the right choice, unless I want to ditch the STS and buy the A4 S line as my fun daily driver! Also based on my research, this Audi is going to depreciate very fast. I think I should be able to buy this S line for around 16-17k. But after 3 years of ownership, its value will be around 8-9k.... I am not sure I want to swallow this amount of depreciation or not! Any idea?
    =============
    Infinity G35


    Attachment 105949

    Pros: Looks gorgeous, very quick car, very spacious as a coupe car, rear seats are actually usable, a practical coupe, relatively reliable and cheap to repair and maintain.
    Cons: It is relatively heavy and it shows its weights in the corners, not very well planted compared to a BMW.
    Price range: anywhere between 7.5k-15k based on the condition, mileage, and the year.


    My decision: G35 could be the perfect fun car for me. It is a good looking, quick, and cheap fun car. But it didn't perform as well as some other coupes I test drove. So I have almost scratched G35 from my list. IF you are looking for a spacious, good looking, quick, RWD, and affordable coupe and don't mind it's mediocre handling, G35 is the perfect coupe for you.

    ==========
    Regular BMW E46
    Attachment 105951

    Pros: Great handing (if equipped with sports package), very refined and elegant interior and exterior (especially if it is equipped with sports and premium packages), a true drivers car.
    Cons: A very cliché and overplayed car! These cars are not the most reliable car sand the cheapest cars to repair and maintain, but they are not very unreliable or expensive to keep either! Did I say it is a cliché car?, A Palin car if it is the base model, and the handling is not superb if it is the basic model. Did I say it is a cliché car?
    Price range: A base, 325i trim can be very cheap, even as cheap as 3grands, if the mileage is high. A nice, low mileage and fully loaded 330ci (coupe) is hard to find and can go as high as 15k and more.

    My decision: I think a 330ci with sports and premium package is a very good toy car for me, if I find one. I am even considering buying one from the mainland and having it shipped over here. I didn't like the base 4-door E46s. They don't live up to BMW's reputation as a true sports luxury car, and they look like a family sedan rather than a true sports car.

    =========
    E46 M3
    Attachment 105952
    Pros: Absolutely good looking and beautiful car, superb handling and performance.
    Cons: Expensive to buy, fix, and maintain; hard to fully utilize the high-revving engine of the car while you are driving in a city. Unfortunately the M3 is the symbolic car for statues-seeking people, especially in Hawaii!

    Price range: Anywhere between 8-30k based on the mileage and the condition of the car. However, buying a cheap M3 is not a very good idea....

    My decision: I love the way M3 looks and handles. I found the suspension of M3 very livable even as a daily driver. The 3.2L engine is not very different from the regular 3.0L, unless you really rev it up. The low end torque is nothing very special. The main advantage of 3.2L engine is that you can rev it up all the way up to 8k RPM, and you really can not do it while you are driving in a city. I am going to pass!
    =========

  2. #137
    Aron9000's Avatar
    Aron9000 is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Man If I were just looking for something fun to tool around on the back-roads of Hawaii, not looking to spend a ton of $$$(on the car itself or potential repairs), it would boil down to about maybe 2 cars . . . .

    If I could find one in nice shape . . .




    Easy to find in your budget, still don't get why you wouldn't buy one, its the perfect 2 lane, narrow road, low speed Hawaii car.





    Although I don't think I'm going to sway you. Go buy an Audi TT. I personally hate the styling, but then again its one of those love/hate designs. I do give it props for being bold and different, even if I don't like it.
    Attached Images

  3. #138
    CadillacCastle is offline Banned
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I think Hawaii has a drag strip for people to race at. A Camaro would be the easiest to get parts for.

  4. #139
    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Today I test drove a very interesting car! it was a BMW, E46, coupe, 330ci (3.0L), Manual, with ZHP package, and it has 79k on it! These cars are very very hard to find.

    I am pretty sure that all BMW guys and even car guys know what ZHP package is. ZHP package is the high performance package for E46 BMWs. It includes a couple of upgraded interior and exterior parts, such as front bumper, rims, steering wheel, short manual shifter, and seats, and mechanically the car is improved. It has 10 more HP compared to the regular 3.0L engine, and it has sportier suspension and steering systems. Basically ZHP is something between the M3 and the regular BMW. It is sportier than the regular BMW, but very livable and comfortable compared to the M3. Also the maintenance costs are the same as the regular BMW. The ZHP is not a special model for BMW, rather it was just a package that you can order for your BMW, and it used to cost $3,900 when the car was new. But somehow it seems that the ZHP package makes the car very exclusive and distinct from the regular BMWs.

    Anyway, I saw an ad for a 330ci BMW, and based on the pics it was easy to see that it is a ZHP. This morning I met the guy and test drove the car. It rode very good, and I liked it. The car was very very well planted, steering was great, and the manual gearbox had a very good feel to it. The 3.0L engine had plenty of power, but it wasn't mind blowing too. The car had a very good sporty feel, but at the same time the ride was very comfortable and livable, you can use the car as your daily driver.

    The main problems were

    1- The car, especially inside, shows its age! Based on what I have seen, it seems that in general BMW's interior doesn't age very well! The interior wasn't trashed, but every single piece was saying that "Hey, I am 10 years old!" The seats had seen better days, the edges of the sports seats, where it rubs against you when you are entering the car, were worn out. There were scratches all over the trims and door panels. The Alcantara steering wheel wasn't in a very good shape.

    2-There was no dent on the body, and no scratch on the paint. But the black paint needs a very good and deep detailing. The owner has left the car outside after he purchased his new car.

    3- Based on my conversation with the owner, he has fixed the car whenever something was broken! So no preventive or recommended maintenance were done on the car.

    4- The car has had 4-5 owners so far.









    What do you guys think? My number one problem is the interior. I like to buy something very very clean, and the BMWs i have seen weren't. My 14 year old Cadillac has aged much better than these BMWs. This car is a coupe, has 3.0L engine with manual gear box, and ZHP package is a huge plus. It has everything I want, and I am not afraid of spending a little bit of money, something around $1-2k, to address problems of any car that I buy, but I don't want to start from a car that is in a really bad shape. The owner agreed to PPI the car if I want to buy the car. I didn't give him any offer, told him let me think and will contact him with an offer, if I decide this is the car I want to buy.

    What do you guys think? The asking price is 12,900, but it seems that he is open for offers. Right now I have a negative feeling mostly because of the condition of the interior.

  5. #140
    orconn's Avatar
    orconn is online now Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I know there are trade offs when buying a used car .... but why would you ever want a black car in Hawaii? The extra heat caused by the black color may well be a contributing factor to the interior's condition.

    Back when I was seriously interested in getting a BMW 6 series coupe, I came across the same problem. The California sun had really wreaked havoc on the dash and seats. It was such a consistent defect on these BMWs that I eventually gave up on owning one. I don't think I ever saw one that the sun hadn't deformed the plastic and other materials of the dash.

    If you can live with the damage that Hawaiian sun can cause to BMW interiors than go ahead, so far this car seems to be what you are looking for in the way of performance and handling in a usable package. If the damage and the continuing damage that life in paradise will do to the car then I'd pass.

  6. #141
    Aztec ETC ECS's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I like your STS better than all those yuppie yahoo cars. They're meant for spoiled college kids.
    Those are toys. I thought you wanted a TOY. Something that is not practical for everyday use.
    Like a '70 Coupe DeVille that runs 11's. Nothing ruins a Vette/Camaro/Mustang driver's day more than when a car twice their size kicks their ass.
    Any dragstrips by you?

  7. #142
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    The interior aging is a common problem all E46 BMW's. Some show it worse than others, but you really can't escape it now that the cars are getting older. Those trim pieces aren't so expensive so you can replace them to help freshen up the interior. How many miles are on the car? $12900 isn't bad but I'd offer him $11000 to start.

  8. #143
    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by orconn View Post
    I know there are trade offs when buying a used car .... but why would you ever want a black car in Hawaii? The extra heat caused by the black color may well be a contributing factor to the interior's condition.

    Back when I was seriously interested in getting a BMW 6 series coupe, I came across the same problem. The California sun had really wreaked havoc on the dash and seats. It was such a consistent defect on these BMWs that I eventually gave up on owning one. I don't think I ever saw one that the sun hadn't deformed the plastic and other materials of the dash.

    If you can live with the damage that Hawaiian sun can cause to BMW interiors than go ahead, so far this car seems to be what you are looking for in the way of performance and handling in a usable package. If the damage and the continuing damage that life in paradise will do to the car then I'd pass.
    As for the color, in used car market you don't have a lot of options and choices, especially when you are in a small market like Hawaii. This is the only 330ci with manual transmission that is up for sale now. It could be white, red, or black....

    As for the interior aging, it is interesting how people like to complain about reliability of American cars, but reality is a little bit different! My 14 year old Cadillac with 147k miles has spent its entire life in Arizona and in Hawaii. But it has aged much better than many 5-6 year old cars that I test drove during last couple of months. I am pretty sure that sun heat and UV plays an important role in aging, but it seems that in E46 BMWs there are additional reasons as well. I have no idea what kind of material they used for different trims and molding, whatever it is, they fade, scratched, and discolored very very easily!

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Aztec ETC ECS View Post
    I like your STS better than all those yuppie yahoo cars. They're meant for spoiled college kids.
    Those are toys. I thought you wanted a TOY. Something that is not practical for everyday use.
    Like a '70 Coupe DeVille that runs 11's. Nothing ruins a Vette/Camaro/Mustang driver's day more than when a car twice their size kicks their ass.
    Any dragstrips by you?
    I need to agree on the STS! This FWD Cadillac with its heavy front end actually performs much better than many other cars, and much more important, there is a very special feel to it.

    I am not into drag racing. Initially I was considering Camaros and Firebirds, but at the end I realized that at some point I might need to get rid of the STS as she is getting too old, and use this second car as my daily driver. I am not spoiled, and I am not a college kid, but I work in university, so I need to buy a car that I can drive to university on a daily basis. I am pretty sure that it wouldn't be very professional of me if I show up in a yellow firebird with black skulls on the hood!

    But again, I agree with you that based on stereotypes, BMW is associated with specific type of people:


    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ryannel2003 View Post
    The interior aging is a common problem all E46 BMW's. Some show it worse than others, but you really can't escape it now that the cars are getting older. Those trim pieces aren't so expensive so you can replace them to help freshen up the interior. How many miles are on the car? $12900 isn't bad but I'd offer him $11000 to start.
    The car has 79k miles. I can't agree more on your aging comment. I have seen tons of E46 BMW's, and so far I think just two or three of them had clean interiors. I think their owners used to wax and maintain the leathers and trims very often.

    Not only the trims, but also all of the plastic panels need attentions. It seems that the black interior ages worse than the others. The center console was in a bad shape too. It was full of scratches, and the black paint was faded and chipped off. The door panels had similar conditions too. Is there a company that sells a complete package of trims and panels?

    I myself was initially considering to offer him 11k. But when I saw the car, I was turned off by the interior. A used car with a 5-digit price tag should be cleaner than this. But again, I understand that all E46s are suffering from the similar problems....

  9. #144
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    If the previous owners had been putting Armoroll on the plastic parts, that stuff sucks the color right out of black trim parts and builds up a residue in the grain of the plastic you can never get out. Pretty much a good way to ruin an interior. All you need is a damp rag and a small paint brush to clean the dirt/dust off your dash and interior bits.

    As for BMW interiors, they generally age well if the person looks after it. There are always 2 or 3 trim bits that pop off or are poorly designed on all their cars I've noticed.

    And whoever thought Alcantra was a good steering wheel material needs to be shot. The oil in your hands usually ruins one of these wheels within the first two years of ownership. At least that's what I've noticed on a couple of newer model CTS-V's I've seen. Its not like leather where you can clean/treat it, once it gets a funk about it its done.

  10. #145
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    The swayde in the CTS-V is microfiber. Very easy to clean and looks much better aged than a leather wheel...

  11. #146
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    This thread (and some additional reading) has made me reconsider the Audi TT. A lot of folks are now saying to do the water pump and timing belt every 50k, no matter what. So if you buy one, have the cash immediately available to drive it to a shop and get it done.

    But then the Miata is a much more dependable car for less money.
    ben.gators and ben.gators like this.

  12. #147
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    And since the V is gone, this thread is pertinent to my interests...
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  13. #148
    ben.gators is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by thebigjimsho View Post
    And since the V is gone, this thread is pertinent to my interests...
    There is a V1 for sale locally. Last week I went and saw the car and rode it, but never posted the review here. When I saw your post, it reminded me of the V1, so here is the short review. Warning: V1 and authentic Cadillac lovers might find the condition of the car disturbing!

    ========
    Cadillac CTS-V1 (2005)




    Pros: Wild, wild, wild animal! Great engine sound, ultra powerful engine. VERY fun to drive. If you don't agree that V1 is a very fun car to drive, there is a very good chance that you never have driven one! Drive the damn car! It won't disappoint you! Tasteful interior!!!!


    Cons: Well, there was no special cons for the CTS-V1. BUT this special example of V1 had a problem that prevented me from writing the check! The custom paint job! The previous owner, who was the original owner, had repainted the car in black with purple shades in it. The car looked black when it was in shadow, but put it in front of the sun and it turns to purple! Who does this to a car!!! What a waste of a great car!







    My thoughts and decision: Mechanically, the car was in great shape. Great engine, great suspension, great steering, and good gear box. There was no clunk or strange noise from the powertrain and the rear end. Also it seemed that the previous owner had done all important upgrades. There was no shift limiter, I think it was eliminated by the previous owner. Also the car had custom short shifter. There was no wheel hop either. I did a WOT and red lined the engine in first gear and then shifted to the second, but there was no wheel hop! I think the car had upgraded shafts.
    The interior looked brand new! Despite many negative comments about the cheap interior of first gen CTS (myself included), I found CTS-V1's interior very tasteful! Somehow it "reminded" me of Audi B7's interior, they both are smart and purposeful, without being flashy! Yesterday I was complaining about BMW's interior and how bad it ages. This V1 is almost as old as the BMW, and they both are black and Hawaii cars. The V1's interior was in PERFECT condition, whereas the BMW's interior was aged, and aged very badly!
    The driver seat was a little bit cramped, but I fit and I was comfortable. This V1 could be a perfect car for me, but that stupid paint job! What a shame!

  14. #149
    Hoosier Daddy's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aron9000 View Post
    And whoever thought Alcantra was a good steering wheel material needs to be shot. The oil in your hands usually ruins one of these wheels within the first two years of ownership. At least that's what I've noticed on a couple of newer model CTS-V's I've seen. Its not like leather where you can clean/treat it, once it gets a funk about it its done.
    We love the factory Alcantera wheel in our Mustang. For sure it won't last as long as leather but the feel, grip and coolness in AZ summer are worth a periodic replacement. In our case it helps that it doesn't get a huge amount of miles per year. And we do wash our hands before driving it. Neither of us eat or drink in a car if that makes a difference. So I think it has its place even if not for most.

  15. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post

    There is a V1 for sale locally. Last week I went and saw the car and rode it, but never posted the review here. When I saw your post, it reminded me of the V1, so here is the short review. Warning: V1 and authentic Cadillac lovers might find the condition of the car disturbing!

    ========
    Cadillac CTS-V1 (2005)

    Pros: Wild, wild, wild animal! Great engine sound, ultra powerful engine. VERY fun to drive. If you don't agree that V1 is a very fun car to drive, there is a very good chance that you never have driven one! Drive the damn car! It won't disappoint you! Tasteful interior!!!!

    Cons: Well, there was no special cons for the CTS-V1. BUT this special example of V1 had a problem that prevented me from writing the check! The custom paint job! The previous owner, who was the original owner, had repainted the car in black with purple shades in it. The car looked black when it was in shadow, but put it in front of the sun and it turns to purple! Who does this to a car!!! What a waste of a great car!

    My thoughts and decision: Mechanically, the car was in great shape. Great engine, great suspension, great steering, and good gear box. There was no clunk or strange noise from the powertrain and the rear end. Also it seemed that the previous owner had done all important upgrades. There was no shift limiter, I think it was eliminated by the previous owner. Also the car had custom short shifter. There was no wheel hop either. I did a WOT and red lined the engine in first gear and then shifted to the second, but there was no wheel hop! I think the car had upgraded shafts.
    The interior looked brand new! Despite many negative comments about the cheap interior of first gen CTS (myself included), I found CTS-V1's interior very tasteful! Somehow it "reminded" me of Audi B7's interior, they both are smart and purposeful, without being flashy! Yesterday I was complaining about BMW's interior and how bad it ages. This V1 is almost as old as the BMW, and they both are black and Hawaii cars. The V1's interior was in PERFECT condition, whereas the BMW's interior was aged, and aged very badly!
    The driver seat was a little bit cramped, but I fit and I was comfortable. This V1 could be a perfect car for me, but that stupid paint job! What a shame!
    I also never minded the interior. While others bash it, to me it was ergonomically excellent with a wonderful gauge cluster.

    As for the way it drives...

    I owned my V2 for 3 1/2 years. It was much more refined and advanced than the V1 in every way. And while I do miss it in the week its been gone, I always was wishing I loved it as much as my beautiful '04. Part of it may be the nostalgia in all the trips I took in it, including a 10,000 mile circling of the country 2 months after I bought it. And all the track days and autocrosses I was able to do that I never really could with the V2.

    Anyway, the V1 is an animal with unmatched character...
    ben.gators and ben.gators like this.

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