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  1. #121
    ben.gators is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I am adding more car reviews to the top of this comprehensive post. More reviews are coming....

    UPDATE:

    I had one week off, and I have spent the entire week test driving different cars and evaluating different options. Too many different cars and too many details. 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.

    ==============
    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. #122
    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Interesting to read. I must ask, what makes you think the G35 is cheap to maintain, even in comparison to the other cars here? You might be surprised...

  3. #123
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    Koooop is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I would quite surprised is G35 needed very much outside of normal wear items and scheduled maintenance.

  4. #124
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    The G35's from what I've read actually aren't as reliable as they are made to seem. Cooling system and general motor issues seem to be the name of the game with that car. The only car that I can say is out and out reliable is the first generation IS300's, though I'm not a huge fan of the overall boy racer look of those particular cars and finding one with a manual is damn near impossible.

  5. #125
    ben.gators is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by drewsdeville View Post
    Interesting to read. I must ask, what makes you think the G35 is cheap to maintain, even in comparison to the other cars here? You might be surprised...
    Obsessively reading G35 and BMW forums, speaking with couple of G35 owners in person, and checking the costs of different parts for these cars. Also please remember that I said " relatively reliable and cheap to repair and maintain." here I am comparing G35 with BMW, Audi, and similar cars, and everything is relative to those cars, not compared to a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. G35 in its segment is a affordable car to own compared to other options, at least based on my research. If you have any other idea, I would be very happy if you share them here. I created this thread for this purpose actually!

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Koooop View Post
    I would quite surprised is G35 needed very much outside of normal wear items and scheduled maintenance.
    ^
    This is what I have read and been told.

    ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ryannel2003 View Post
    The G35's from what I've read actually aren't as reliable as they are made to seem. Cooling system and general motor issues seem to be the name of the game with that car.
    Ryan, can you please explain a little bit more? This info in new for me and I like to know more about it. Based on what I have read, including from you, I have concluded that BMW has normally cooling system problems, and Audi TT (1.4L Turbo) has timing belt and other engine problems.

  6. #126
    ryannel2003's Avatar
    ryannel2003 is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post

    Ryan, can you please explain a little bit more? This info in new for me and I like to know more about it. Based on what I have read, including from you, I have concluded that BMW has normally cooling system problems, and Audi TT (1.4L Turbo) has timing belt and other engine problems.
    Several G35 owners I've spoken with have dealt with timing chain issues and oil consumption issues as well. It seems the 3.5 engine in particular throughout the Nissan range has timing chain problems much like the ones with the GM 3.6 V6's. I think it's quite rare but it's definitely out there. Also read of a few people have cooling system issues with one of the hoses but be warned this is more common to BMW's. Also know the M54 E46 330i's tend to use oil whereas the M52 323/328i's do not. I went 12k on my last oil change and my car didn't use one drop of oil.

    ----------

    BTW Audi's... gorgeous cars. Great to drive. Nightmare to own. They still use timing belts and the entire front end has to be removed for repair. Tons of electrical problems. Turbo's are issues on 1.8T's. Oil consumption issues. Worked at Audi for 6 months and that scared me away for good. I'll look from afar but never own one without a good, long warranty.
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  7. #127
    ben.gators is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Thanks for the info! I did a quick search, and yes, the timing chain problem, the worn tensioner and guide, is there.... If it is not very common and it is rare, I wouldn't worry about it...

    As for the oil use, after owning the STS with N* engine, my perception is that an engine is supposed to burn and leak oil, and if it doesn't, something is very very very wrong with it... N* has put the bar very low when it comes to oil consumption....

  8. #128
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post
    Thanks for the info! I did a quick search, and yes, the timing chain problem, the worn tensioner and guide, is there.... If it is not very common and it is rare, I wouldn't worry about it...

    As for the oil use, after owning the STS with N* engine, my perception is that an engine is supposed to burn and leak oil, and if it doesn't, something is very very very wrong with it... N* has put the bar very low when it comes to oil consumption....
    LOL yeah my Northstar used 1 quart every 1500 like clockwork so it's been interesting to own a car that doesn't use oil when for 3 1/2 years I was always adding oil to the car at least once every 2 months or so. The oil consumption issue like I said is much more common on the 330i's though I'm not particularly sure why.

  9. #129
    ben.gators is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by ryannel2003 View Post

    [/COLOR]BTW Audi's... gorgeous cars. Great to drive. Nightmare to own. They still use timing belts and the entire front end has to be removed for repair. Tons of electrical problems. Turbo's are issues on 1.8T's. Oil consumption issues. Worked at Audi for 6 months and that scared me away for good. I'll look from afar but never own one without a good, long warranty.
    Yes, in general Audis are money pits. Tons of horror stories about them. But to my surprise, I have read positive things about reliability of B7 A4s, at least so far! Also this specific Audi has been always checked and maintained by the Audi dealership, and so far the only problem was just a bad engine mount! But it can be a ticking time bomb that may explode in my face!

  10. #130
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by ben.gators View Post
    Yes, in general Audis are money pita. Tons of horror stories about them. But to my surprise, I have read positive things about reliability of B7 A4s, at least so far! Also this specific Audi has been always checked and maintained by the Audi dealership, and so far the only problem was just a bad engine mount! But it can be a ticking time bomb that may explode to my face!
    If you find a good one then I'd buy it. The B7's did seem to have less issues than the older models (those '96-'01 were junk) but I don't think I could bring myself to buy a modern car with a timing belt! It's just a way for 95% of the population to spend $1000 or so dollars at the dealership along with all kinds of other work. For guys like us that mainly DIY it wouldn't be so bad but still... not a fun job!

  11. #131
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    orconn is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    From an aesthetic point of view I find Audis to have the best design of any line of cars (I am not a fan of the TT's styling) I really like the clean well executed lines and tasteful and functional interiors. The materials are very good. If it weren't for the horrendous experience I had with Audi ownership .... snotty service, ridiculous prices for parts and labor for what amounts to a glorified Volkswagen and the repetitious failure of the same expensive parts (all at under 65,000 miles), I would definitely consider owning another one!
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  12. #132
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    I strongly considered an Audi TT but the timing belts like to break VERY early, as soon as 40k, and then the engine is toast.

  13. #133
    ben.gators is online now Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesda View Post
    I strongly considered an Audi TT but the timing belts like to break VERY early, as soon as 40k, and then the engine is toast.
    Yes, I have read couple of those stories! Based on Audi's scheduled maintenance, the timing belt needs to be replaced at 70k miles. But in considerable number of 1.8L Turbos, the timing belt snapped at 60k and even earlier, which resulted in engine damage! However, there is a class action and a settlement for this problem:

    http://www.pswplaw.com/CM/ClassActions/Volkswagen.asp

  14. #134
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    Re: Looking for a good "toy" car!

    A wise man once told me, "never buy a law suit!"

  15. #135
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    thebigjimsho is offline Cadillac Owners 10000+ Posts
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    Those original TTs were understeering pigs. Might be fun at 6/10ths, but its Beetle bones will shine through...

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