The answer isn’t Miata.
Has my interest in buying a new car been wrong all along? Those that have been following me for the past few months know that I have a wandering eye. It’s bad enough when I go to Cars and Coffee almost every weekend, eye-balling every exotic or affordable car worthy of the show. I tend to like daily driving cars more than exotics. I mean really, who wants the hassle of all of those strangers taking photos, drivers driving dangerously, or being approached at gas stations to talk about your car? I certainly don’t.
I’m sure by now, people have also figured out what kind of general price range I think about. The average cost of a new car is roughly $33,000, yet, there are so many different choices available for $5,000 to $10,000 less.
Jalopnik went through their ideas.
Wait, you’re saying that a Honda Civic with a manual transmission is a great first enthusiast car? A Subaru is a great first enthusiast car? No one mentioned an FR-S?
I don’t want to drive a best first enthusiast car. I’ve owned four sports cars in my past, three of them being Mr2’s. If anything, I would think other people on the road would recognize, “Hey, that guy cared about his car. He knows something.” For whatever lame reason, that means a lot to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Honda. I love Subaru. I love Mazda. I often talk to fellow gearheads and ask them, “If you had to buy cars from one brand for the rest of your life, what would it be?” No. They don’t make outrageous sums of money. They are down to earth. Each time, Honda, Subaru, and Mazda come up. They are reliable. They are surprisingly styled well. They are fun to drive. They may not be the horsepower monsters of 3g lateral grip, but that doesn’t mean fun can’t be had. Seriously, when isn’t a WRX fun to drive? How about the upcoming Civic Si? What about a Civic Touring with a manual transmission? The Miata? Yeah, those brands make great cars.
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Bear with me with my thought process. The best first enthusiast car is a
. They stopped building the hatchback versions in the U.S. In fact, any hint of a Mazda2 is actually in the Mazda CX-3. But, think about it for a second. It’s small, lightweight, has room for friends, great gas mileage, and is easy to drive. It’s easy to park. It’s easy to fling around the corners. The shifter shifts well. Yet, it has plenty of potential once the driver starts craving for a bit more excitement.
Corksport offers a great deal of upgrades for the Mazda2. You can lower the suspension, get better brakes, get a short shifter, add a thicker torsion bar and front sway bar. These upgrades help maximize the Mazda2’s ability to get the most out of 100 horsepower. After all, you’re trying to learn how to be a better driver right? Add proper tires, and you’ll be surprised how often you’re on full throttle around a track.
Then when things get more serious, the Mazda2 is SCCA legal for B-Spec racing.
Sure, the used market is the only place you can find a Mazda2. It helps a lot when buying a relatively new car still costs less than $15,000. Save the extra money for upgrades.
As it turns out, maybe the best first enthusiast car isn’t a Mazda Miata. It’s a Miata-lite. It’s a Miata that’s front wheel drive and has two more seats. It has a bit more bootspace, is just as light as a third-generation Miata, and has a similar, direct-steering feel with great shift feel too.
I get it. If more people get a Mazda2, no one will know that person is an actual automotive enthusiast. The remedy is simple. Just put on your racing number on the door.
As for me, I’ll have to look elsewhere for an enthusiast car.