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nhill40

A "fun" car for a daily driver - why bother?

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nhill40   

This is something I really grapple with what is the justification to have a "fun" car as a daily driver?

Previously, I owned a very trusty, but boring Honda Civic sedan as a daily driver plus a '95 Miata for weekend fun.  In hindsight, I would have probably just kept the status quo but my wife really did not like the Miata - which she felt was "small and dangerous" and didn't like the fact that it pushed my Civic outdoors for storage.

I don't think my wife would have ever pushed/forced me to get rid of the Miata.  However, when, in a moment of weakness, I showed some willingness to work out an arrangement to get me down to 1 car, she very enthusiastically jumped on board.

So, the Civic and Miata get traded in on a new-ish Mazda 3 sedan with the reasoning being that a Mazda 3 is essentially a more interesting version of my Civic (which was getting somewhat long in the tooth).  The plan was to drive the 3 for a long time, squirrel away the pennies, and then, when the time was right, really go for something great as an "extra" car.

I really like the "3" - 6-speed so I can practice my heel/toe on the way to work, it's very zippy for this class of car, and it handles very nicely (especially after I got it outfitted with a nice set of Continentals).

But, for all that, it's no Miata and, as so often happens with us humans, a sense of restlessness has set in.  Much to my surprise, my wife has seemed very amenable to talk of replacing the 3 under the stipulation that the new car would be a replacement car and not an "extra" car.

The prime limitation that imposes is 4 seats, but there are at least 2 options that interest me that fulfills the 4 seat criteria:  the Toyota 86 and the Mini Cooper S.  In my opinion, both of these cars would be a solid notch above my 3 in terms of excitement level, but it also brings me to my quandary:  why bother?

I've had a lifelong interest in cars and racing.  But, thanks to sim racing, compared to the general public I think I have an above-average understanding of really how little resemblance performance driving has with daily driving.  Granted, I think you'd have to be pretty dense to not understand racing has very little in common with driving to the store to pick up some groceries, but I'm not sure it every really sunk in for me how radically different the two experiences are until getting into sim racing.

This leads me to get quite down on the idea of having a "fun" car as a daily driver.  Yeah, it might have above-average pep to draw upon when the traffic light turns green, but - unless you have a death wish or are participating in a track day - you're very infrequently going to find yourself even close (on purpose, at least) to full cornering potential.  Seems like a waste, from that perspective.  On the other hand, I have a hard time being content picturing how great that classic 240z is going to look in my garage "someday" when I am old/smart/pessimistic enough to know, frankly, that "someday" may never come (for a multitude of reasons).

What say you, SimHQ?  Help me with my first-world problems! :hahaha:  All opinions welcome!  :) 

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Coutie   

My dad has a Shelby Mustang and I've driven it a bit. At first it was cool, but then your realize that you never leave second gear, the gas costs a lot, and you can't see anything because you sit so low. I'll stick with a regular car.

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For the money, 2017 Toyota 86 or the Subaru BRZ. If she will go with something a bit more, Ford Focus RS. 2017 was just released recently.

Does the Ms drive manual shift? If not, you can use the paddles but if she will go along with manual, get it.

One fault with the 86 and BRZ. Both have only 200/205 hp. If your local terrain isn't real hilly, shouldn't be a problem if you're willing to wind-it-up in 2nd, 3rd gears.

Your competition dilemma is easily solved with weekly autocrosses, especially with the 86. Local groups have events with those and they are prominent in SCCA. See if your local SCCA region chapter has one coming-up, visit it to observe. Fun and easy, and speed is ~ 60 mph maximum.

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Piotr   

I love cars.

But fun car as a daily driver? No.

If you have enough spare money to spend then rather use it for track days in really, really hardcore machinery. It will pump your adrenaline and your testorone higher than using fun car to negotiate 20kmh traffic on daily basis.

We are lucky to live in times where technology allows us such an immersion of racing. Simulation is great, real life is overrated... and really expensive :neaner:

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... or a Focus ST.  Of all Ford's performance cars, it would be the easiest to live with, if everyone's ok with a manual. (just plugging for Ford here...) :P

I think you get used to whatever you drive, and even the most thrilling car can become more mundane to you as time goes on.  There's a reason there are so many 1-2 year old used Mustangs on the market with <10k miles.  "I'm paying HOW much for gas+insurance+tires? "

I think you're on the right track.  The ideal situation for a gearhead is to have something practical and maybe a little sporty, plus that 240z in the garage as a toy.  I thought I was still many years away from a toy, but then I found a very cheap '93 Miata. And though it's very used, it still makes me so happy to drive.  And it's fun and cheap to tinker with.  I live in an area with enough empty rural roads that a sporty car can justify it's existence without doing anything dangerous.

Working at a car dealership, I'm in a lucky position where I can drive pretty much drive any late-model Ford I want, whenever I want.  So, some coworkers think I'm nuts when my daily driver is a Fiesta ST or Mustang GT, yet I show up to work at least once a week in my 270,000 mile Miata with no radio, no roof.  But I'm really just as happy to drive that when I can.

And on the street I'ld rather drive a Mazda 3 with a manual than a Corvette with an automatic. I'm not trying to be obtuse or a snob, that's just the truth. You get used to the power, you can't use all the speed and cornering, suddenly the compact car with a clutch and skinny tires is the more engaging ride when you're whipping thru a nice empty roundabout or hitting the highway entrance ramp.

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nhill40   

Guys, thank you for your input - this really helps!

It makes me feel less crazy to see that there are others who feel having a cool/fun car for road use might be a bit of a waste (I've gotten some crazy looks when expressing this opinion in the past!)

As far as the automatic/manual goes, that isn't even a question for me - I am old school and won't drive anything but a manual (though, with current trends the way they are, there is a good chance in my lifetime the option to find a new car with a manual transmission may go away).  My wife can't drive a manual (or, I guess maybe "chooses not to learn to drive a manual" :D ) - her lone utility-based stipulation is that I have a car with 4 seats so I can pick up the kids.

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nhill40   
7 hours ago, Doug Atkinson said:

Since manual isn't an issue, go test drive a Toyota 86. Costs nothing but time. ;D

HA!  I know myself well enough to not do this until I've accepted I'm buying one.  :hahaha:

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Interesting you bring this up.  Last night (and I literally mean last night) I purchased a 2014 Mazda3 hatchback.  Manual transmission (which I love) and a new payment (which I hate).  In all seriousness, it is a 'fun' car to drive and I was under similar constraints.  It had to be able to haul my wife and two children around comfortably.  If you don't have kids, you can have whatever coupe you want.  For me, mine had to have four doors.

I looked at a Focus.  My word, that back seat may as well not even be there.  I know it has four doors, but the back two essentially open up into a shoebox.  The 3 is much more spacious.  The gearbox is tight, the clutch is facile, and the steering is immediate.  I'm used to an F-150 or a Kia Sportage, you turn the wheel and it kind of ambles in that direction.  If I blink my eyes in the 3, I'm already in another lane.

I wanted to go at least a year without a car payment, but thanks to my daughter and son-in-law's track record with cars, I'm having to give them the Sportage (my commuter vehicle).  I'm not happy about a new car, but I like what I've bought very much.  I would maybe check out a Hyundai Veloster.  I test drove one and that thing is just so nimble and fun to drive.

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nhill40   

Yes, I really like my 3 - mine's a bit older than yours, though (2010).  I've never taken mine to a track or anything like that, but just based on my screwing around, it does have an understeer tendency (as you might expect from a car of this type).  I do genuinely believe Mazda pays attention to the way their cars drive and they try to engineer a positive driving "feel".  Also, reasonably bullet-proof on the reliability front - not up to Toyota-level standards (probably also a bit behind Honda, too), but still not a car you really expect anything to go wrong on.

To be honest, I think one of the best handling cars we have owned (outside of my Miata, of course) was my wife's little 2010 Honda Fit.  Extremely light little car (which is always a good start) and I had a pretty nice set of tires on it, but we also had the "sport" version which, in addition to a bunch of excess plastic trim, added a rear ARB.  Very well balanced - I don't think it produced a lot of grip by any means, but when it started to really slide from underneath you, it did so very evenly.

I am still pondering my next move (and will probably do so for quite a while - if I do make a move, I gotta make it a good one).  I've more or less accepted in my heart that a "fun" car as a daily driver really is a waste (especially if you live in a decent sized city, like I do)...but at the same time, there is the whole "you only live once" thing, so...

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Staniol   

Oh I understand your situation very well.

We have 2 cars in the family, my wife usually drives the SAAB 95, while I am riding in my Honda Prelude, both manual.

I must admit, the SAAB is spoiling me. It is so comfortable, huge, smooth and strong (2L Turbo), its a pleasure to travel with it, I feel like a captain on a ship, have safety, 

The Honda Prelude is the opposite, hard suspension, loud as hell, glued to the road like nothing else and has much better weight/HP ratio. Even this is too much for going to work, but cmon, we need some toys, right?

I had the choice to buy an Integra, but I was sober enough to stop right there, I knew I wouldn't be able use it for what it was built for.

I occasionally go to one of the small tracks here, either go round with my prelude or pay for trying out something else.

 

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kludger   
On 10/20/2016 at 11:48 AM, Doug Atkinson said:

Since manual isn't an issue, go test drive a Toyota 86. Costs nothing but time. ;D

I echo Doug's advice.

The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ is ~$18k used/ $26k new, weighs 2,600lbs, has just 200hp but awesome handling and gets 30MPG.

I've had mine 4 years this month, and have loved every single time I get in it since that test drive. The great handling and nice 6 speed manual makes the 200HP fun without getting into speeds that would get me in trouble on my other cars and motorcycles.

After 4 years I still look forward to driving it everytime, even running errands or dropping a kid off at soccer practice etc.

For me a daily driver that is fun is a great option as long as it's not expensive to run or maintain. Lots of other great options out there including those mentioned in this thread, a peppy engine, a manual transmission, and decent handling are the key.

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nhill40   
33 minutes ago, PreacherMan said:

The Toyota 86 is my dream machine.   My dreams are small.

Preacher, some of the happiest, most fulfilled people I have ever known have been the ones with "small dreams".  :thumbsup:

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Mudcat   

Just throwing it out there even though I am a bit late to the party, how bout instead of a Mini Cooper S you go with a Countryman and get something with 4 seats and is a racecar as well :D

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Ok @kludger , I finally got to see what the hype was all about. :)

20161208_153230.jpg

Finally found a decent FR-S for inventory, manual transmission.  Took it for a nice test drive, will also drive it home tonite.

I really like the view over the hood.  This little brows make it easy to know where your front wheels are. The shifter is very nice and slick with light, positive little snicks into gear.  Fun to go up and down the gears, pedals are decent spaced for some heel/toe.  Exhaust note has a nice growl, boxxer engine is meaty in the mid-range. Corners very, very flat.  Like, VERY flat.  Without much roll, feels like it can change direction pretty quick.  But I didn't get real aggressive or anything.  Steering is a little more damped and heavy than I prefer.   I like it overall.  It's like a Mustang and a Miata had a baby with really tight suspension.  It's not crazy exciting or super sporty, but definitely a great drivers car.  And like you said, 200hp is plenty, but you can wring it out without feeling like a total maniac.  

It's kind of a bad time for me to try and be fair to another sporty car right now because I've been driving a Focus RS for the past few days (I know...)  Now there's a car that if you're winding it out in more than 2 gears, you're already doing something really stupid.  Sheesh, that thing is like an evil girlfriend who wants nothing but fun, and doesn't give a $#!% if she lands you in jail.

RS1.jpg

Evil car.  Totally ridiculous.  It's just too easy to drive too fast.  It does everything for you.  Bad news.  And no, I have not, will not try Drift mode.

 

 

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nhill40   

Congrats, Arthur!  Great find...though I'm a little jealous now!  :D

That is a very close second on my color wishlist - great looking car.  I'm assuming it's used?

An update on my own first world problem of should I buy a car when I have a perfectly good one already:  short answer, I'm still thinking about it.

I am laser focused on the BRZ/FR-S/86's though now.  Not really considering any other car, I think it's one of those or keep what I got.

It's 3 things for me:

1) This probably sounds silly, but I created a to-do list for myself for what I want to take care of around the house before I even think about looking at a car.  This keeps me so busy on the weekends that I don't have to worry about the temptation to even look at a cars.  There are also some modest financial goals I've imposed on myself, but those are really none of ya damn business.  ;)

2) Researching the car itself.  For all intents and purposes, from a driver experience standpoint, there isn't really a difference to speak of between the 3 cars.  At the same time, there are enough differences between the three - running the gamut from from minor cosmetic differences to resale value - to make your head spin.  Not to mention the new vs used question.

3) Lastly, I'm still wrestling with my original philosophical question - for my life, is a sports car worth it, or is this just an image/vanity thing?  (perhaps a bit of both?)  I've forced myself to really *think* about the type of driving I do as well as other non-driving factors like where I park.  I currently park right out under the blazing Colorado sun all day at work - would I feel like I need to pay for covered parking?  That sort of stuff.

I'm by no means rich, but I'm fortunate to be working in the right industry (tech) in the right market (Denver) so that, if I wanted to put a brand new '17 86 in my garage before the end of this weekend, I could make that happen...so all this hand wringing might seem a bit neurotic...and perhaps it is.  But at the same time, I want to really be sure I get this right.  I loved my Miata, but it was truly a life lesson for me in that I went into that situation really off the cuff without thinking things through to their logical conclusion.  Whether I end up with a used FR-S, a new 86, or just keeping my Mazda, I want to make sure it's a situation I feel comfortable with for a good long time.

By the way, I'm still more than open to any/all advice anyone has for me!  :)

 

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Piotr   

Just do it. Don't over think it becasue you will end up like me, extending the lease of VW Touareg TDI, and slavering at the mouth every time I see new Mustang (in my prices range) or new C-Class Couple AMG 63s (outside my price range) ;-)

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Just to clarify: it's not mine. 

I bought it for our used inventory at work.  Well, mostly. ;)

I might have to agree with Piotr.  Maybe lease a new one for a couple of years?  Get it out of your system at least. :D

I mean, that car is by no means unreasonable as good daily transportation, as long as you are cool with 2 doors and monkey-sized rear seats.  Plus I imagine with those cars will hold a good resale value since they are desirable in a classic sort of way.  Although I don't have a clue how the insurance companies view the BRZ/FR-S .

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nhill40   

Insurance is only a few dollars more than my Mazda 3.

FR-S value seems to drop like a rock, but that is likely down to the Scion badge (which has an undeservedly awful brand reputation, it seems).

BRZ is a different story - seems to hold value quite well.  I would imagine the same will hold for the 86 (which will be funny to see since it really is the same damned car as the FR-S, sans the "Scion stink).

I've seen some obscenely cheap used FR-S's pop up.  Very tempting... :/

 

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Nick,

You know Toyota axed the Scion brand and have brought in 2 vehicles under the Toyota line-up in 2017? The FR-S is one of them, now named the Toyota 86. http://www.toyota.com/86/  Arguably the front end is better looking on the FR-S than the 2017 Toyota 86 (IMO). But if having the Scion doesn't bug you, yeah the FR-S can be bought cheap. Lots of gray market replacement badges on Ebay to make the Scion FR-S into European and Asian Toyota GT86 badges.

But be careful if grabbing an FR-S because there were a lot of drivers that decided to disable the stability control, then swapped ends, and bent their toys. Not to say all are that way, it is just a well known issue especially with early models before word got out not to do that.

So you're in the Denver area, huh? Go get a set of autocross tires, a set of cheap rims, learn how to replace brake pads, and go have fun once a month in the local mall parking lot. ;) Drive like grandma Monday thru Friday then occasionally on the weekends have some real low speed fun. The FR-S and BRZ are kings of their class.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Doug Atkinson said:

 

But be careful if grabbing an FR-S because there were a lot of drivers that decided to disable the stability control, then swapped ends, and bent their toys. Not to say all are that way, it is just a well known issue especially with early models before word got out not to do that.

 

 

...which is probably why it took me so long to find a decent one at auction with a clean record.  Interesting.  Finding that Scion TC fwd coupe is even harder.  Had to find one for a customer, but EVERY single one had a bad carfax, accident.  That thing is the darling of young punks who have apparently seen Fast&Furious too many times.

And it's interesting that you mention swapping ends.  When I drove the FR-S home that night, I went thru the off-camber roundabout that I've been thru 1000 times before, in all types of cars and a few motorcycles...  It was totally clear, and I was moving a little quick, but about the speed I'm comfortable taking my Miata thru at.  The rear abruptly and dramatically decided to let go, the stability control kicked in in an equally dramatic way. Very glad I almost always drive cars in full nanny mode.  Granted it was chilly out and the tires are Bridgestone Touranzas, not really the stickiest.  Not used to the sensitive gas pedal either, I was probably giving it too much maintenance throttle.

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nhill40   

Your anecdote is very consistent with my own research, Arthur: the stock FR-S suspension is tuned to step out when you goose it mid-corner, whereas the stock BRZ is more balanced and even prone to mild mid corner - GASP! - understeer upon power application.

The general consensus (though you can find opinions on all sides):

- This makes the FR-S more fun around town, cuz you can hoon it so easy and pretend you are Paul Walker.

- On the track at novice, sub-limit speed, you would have to really be tuned-in to know the difference between the stock BRZ and stock FR-S.

- On the track approaching the limit, the FR-S exhibits snappier turn-in and twitchier behavior when getting back on the power, whereas the BRZ is a little lazier on turn-in but really wants you to floor it once you get rotated.  

- On track, the novice will likely be slower (and be more likely to experience an off track excursion!) in the stock FR-S relative to the stock BRZ.  For an experienced hand, it's more likely to come down to the track and driver preference.

- The key word I used over and over is "stock".  Aftermarket suspension kits abound for these cars - if you are such a handling aficionado and/or track junkie that you are concerned with something like "mid-corner, throttle on behavior", the likelihood either car's suspension is left stock for any amount of time is pretty slim.  

- Both cars are superb in terms of the stuff that are hard-to-impossible to change (CoG, weight distribution, etc).  If you want a FR-S that understeers right off the track or a BRZ that lets you imitate your favorite "Initial D" scene, you are just a mod or two away.

The outstanding question I have: will the Toyota-badged 86's now being sold stateside behave more like the BRZ, the FR-S, or somewhere between?  If I was picking between just the Subaru and the Scion, my personal preference would probably be to go with the Suburu...but I definitely like the 86 nameplate, which I know is dumb, but I want to wait until we get some detailed 3-way impressions (BRZ vs FR-S vs 86).

Sorry for the long post, but I've spent a LOT of time on various car forums lately and have a lot of research clanging around my brain at the moment!

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Well, if you believe Assetto Corsa (and based on their Mustang, I really do!), the Toyota GT86 handles like that description of the BRZ.  It's downright hard to get the rear out without doing something dramatic. 

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nhill40   

Ha, true!

Some of this might be down to the sim though, too.  Not many cars seem overly tail happy to me in AC (usually battling understeer, personally).

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9 hours ago, nhill40 said:

The outstanding question I have: will the Toyota-badged 86's now being sold stateside....

Nick, not correct. The 2017 Toyota 86 is different than the Euro and Asian GT86. The U.S. Toyota 86 is the rebadged Scion FR-S with like 5+ more horsepower (whoopee), new front and back end, and some very modest tweaks to the ride in the suspension (so I've read).

On the street, keep the stability control on. On the weekends at the autocross, turn it off. That is where you can learn the car control. ;)

The suspension on either the BRZ or FR-S or Toyota 86 doesn't need any aftermarket (at least initially).

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-if-any-between-the-Toyota-GT-86-FT-86-Scion-FR-S-and-the-Subaru-BR-Z

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kludger   

Wow congrats @arthur666! Very nice RS :thumbsup:

Your experience with the loose rear end could also be caused by cold weather if it still has the stock "hard" Michelin Primacy tires which make the car feel lively during the summer (they slide and squeal very satisfactorily) but during winter they never heat up enough to get much grip... 

@nhill40 good question about the '17 Toyota suspension, my favorite forum for BRZ/86 info is (I'm kludger on there too):
http://www.ft86club.com/forums/index.php

Lots of good info there, I've been busy the last few months with prep for a house sale and move so haven't kept up with what the '17 models changed (and also because I'm happy with my '13) so I not sure off hand, but I'm sure the threads there on the '17 will have all the details on what changed and how it compares to the first gen, especially since some of the forum members were planning to do the upgrade. Also there's lots of people who post their BRZ/FR-S for sale on there when they decide to move on to other cars, so also might be a good source for a used one, although personally I would probably stay away from the ones with Turbo/Supercharger mods... too many variables to know for sure how sorted a large mod like that is on a particular used car and I don't want to buy someone else's Frankenstein...

Good luck with the car search/decision, keep us up to date if you end up test driving one.

PS, if anyone is curious I had some pictures of my 86 in this post:

http://www.ft86club.com/forums/showthread.php?t=45755

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nhill40   

Thanks @kludger, great info!

I think your advice on turbo/supercharger mods is solid.  If nothing else, I would assume anyone who would go to the trouble to put on a turbo/supercharger probably flogged the poor little thing pretty hard! :)

 

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