Going from a Miata to something... more practical (prep-work for the next year or two)

WDWBen

Subaru Killer
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
1,327
Location
Disney World
Car(s)
2012 MX-5 PRHT
For reasons I'll go into later, I find myself in the need of a more practical vehicle than my Miata in the next few years. There are a few requirements I have, but not a ton. I'd like to spend no more than $25k, but that will be in a year or two, so recommendations can include "I hope it'll be this price in two years." I do live in Florida, so I can keep the car on summer tires year-round, and don't need AWD/4WD to get me through snowy winters.

I prefer:
  1. Wagons over hatchbacks over lift backs over sedans.
  2. Transmission doesn't particularly matter, but I'd prefer something I can shift, whether it's a proper manual or a good manually shiftable automatic (dual clutch over torque converter, but if it's a good one of the latter, I won't care).
  3. CarPlay built in, but if not, I need to be able to install it without breaking how the car works (infotainment, climate control, et cetera).
  4. Something I can work on without too many specialized tools, but I do own one of those silly VW 16-point driver bits from when I did the brakes on an '07 Jetta
  5. Something fun to drive over something mundane. I drive a Miata, and owned a Mini Cooper S before that.
  6. Half decent gas mileage.
Right now, my list is as follows, in no particular order:
  • VW GTI
  • Subaru WRX (first mod being a 4-pot/2-pot Brembo conversion)
Pricing dependent:
  • GLA45 AMG (I hate SUVs, but in AMG trim, this looks close enough to the ground to be a proper hatch)
  • CLA45 AMG
  • VW Golf R
  • Audi S3
  • Subaru WRX STI
So, what else should I be thinking about? Am I making bad choices looking at any of the above cars?
 

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
16,720
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
You said you like wagons? Why not snatch a Golf Sportwagen before VW drop it from the US lineup? Can be had with manual, conventional automatic (8-speed in 2019), or DSG (awd only). Problem here is if you don’t like halogen headlights, manual trans is the bottom of the barrel offered only. 2019 also saw the replacement of the 1.8L in favor of the 1.4L which has the same torque rating but HP is dropped slightly. We have 2 Jettas at work, one being 2015 (1.8) and 2017 (1.4). the trans programming for the conventional auto on these feel like they want you to feel as much torque from idle as possible which depending on your preference could be annoying for creeping in traffic or just moving a car around the driveway. The low HP is only noticeable if you're hammering it otherwise, it's perfectly fine.

I have a 2019 Alltrack which is decent but don’t expect DSG farts out of it. They modify the transmission programming to get rid of that and in my opinion, DSG helps the "must have all torque from take off" mentality. While yes the DSG drags a little at takeoff but if you're aware of this, then it's no big deal since driving manual does the same thing as you let the clutch out.

Personally, Golf R is great with DSG, I wouldn't get manual unless you have to have the stick. Having driven one at ringmeet (the username of whose it was escapes me) made me appreciate DSG so much more. I love manual trans and my 2018 GTI has it. It's nice but if you just want to go, theres no replacement for DSG, it's that good. That said, are you prepared for the 30,000 mi trans service? I've heard its not terrible but know that you'll need some money available for that which is also why you'll see quite a few for sale around that mileage.

A friend has a 2017 GTI with DSG and I have a 2018 in Manual. It's really difficult to choose for me as I love changing gear when in town but when I'm out of town on rural roads, DSG is what I want.

VW has had Carplay since about 2016.

Any love for the Buick Regal Tour X? Also a wagon with 8-speed auto just like the Golf Sportwagen but I think it's a touch bigger.
 

WDWBen

Subaru Killer
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
1,327
Location
Disney World
Car(s)
2012 MX-5 PRHT
Problem here is if you don’t like halogen headlights
Thanks for calling this out; I'm definitely a headlight snob. Xenons or better, please, haha.

Also, I'm looking for something that's pretty fun to drive as well. But I'll definitely have to keep some of those other options in mind... I can't say I've driven the Golf Sportwagen.
 

93Flareside

Döner Kebab enthusiast
DONOR
Joined
Jul 20, 2009
Messages
16,720
Location
42 miles outside of Chicago
Car(s)
‘18 VW Golf GTI, '87 Mercury Colony Park
Thanks for calling this out; I'm definitely a headlight snob. Xenons or better, please, haha.

Also, I'm looking for something that's pretty fun to drive as well. But I'll definitely have to keep some of those other options in mind... I can't say I've driven the Golf Sportwagen.
like a Golf but feels a little more sluggish than a GTI because of course it would be. Other than that, no big changes.
 

Der Stig

is Der Slut
DONOR
Joined
Dec 19, 2008
Messages
7,309
Location
Misery Knob
Car(s)
Divorcée Mobiles
BMW 3er wagons are around, albeit tougher to find. Most will be autos too, but the most recent ZF 8 speeds are good.
 

WDWBen

Subaru Killer
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
1,327
Location
Disney World
Car(s)
2012 MX-5 PRHT
That's an option; I'd have to see prices on those and how to get CarPlay working in them. Right now, for the price point, I'm really thinking about going back to my Subaru roots and getting a WRX... just dunno why I'm so attracted to it. Should probably drive one first. But I'm open minded, and I'll be honest throughout this process about what I'm driving, open to the ideas of others (like a BMW 3er), and we'll see where I end up.

It's just frustrating to know I'm going to have to take a Lyft to the airport why I fly home for Thanksgiving because I literally can't fit my suitcases in my car.
 

Spectre

The Deported
Joined
Feb 1, 2007
Messages
36,778
Location
Dallas, Texas
Car(s)
00 4Runner | 02 919 | 87 XJ6 | 86 CB700SC
~4+ year old E-class wagons are right in this price range and more or less meet the other requirements.

https://www.carfax.com/vehicle/WDDHH8JB1FB133122

In a couple years, the ones with CarPlay will be in this price range.

It's just frustrating to know I'm going to have to take a Lyft to the airport why I fly home for Thanksgiving because I literally can't fit my suitcases in my car.
This problem is literally why all the Little British Cars that the Miata is modeled after/spiritually descended from had an invention known as the 'luggage rack' as an available option. Such are also offered for all Miata generations to date, whether permanently mounted, no-drill and quick remove or industrial suction cupped.



https://www.rspeed.net/Ultimate_Luggage_Rack_Miata_MX_5_1990_2005_p/nab-4545.htm
 

MWF

Now needs wood
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
27,751
Location
MWF HQ, Ukadia
Car(s)
MX-5 1.8i Indiana SE, update pending
Or pack light. We just did a full week away with just a carry on each.
 

public

Has been known to shou emousshiöns
DONOR
Joined
Nov 26, 2007
Messages
11,703
Location
Causticity
Car(s)
S203 M271 and a ton of crap
My Miata came with a luggage rack. I was happy to get rid of it.
 
Top