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    Thread: Miata / BRZ / Cooper S / GTI ... Help me choose

    1. Member spongebob_squarepants's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 12:41 PM #1
      This is my short list for a new DD. Plan to purchase / lease a '13 model around the end of the year. Will likely get a DSG / AT since the wife might drive it on occasion. Yeah, I know...

      I was pretty psyched about a BMW 128i with that sweet inline six, until I saw that dealers only have ones that are bloated with every possible option on the lots. I guess ordering one is a must if you want to keep it basic with Sport Package & Xenons. Have heard the usual horror stories about BMW repair costs.

      Random thoughts on these four contenders...

      Miata - Everybody says these are a blast to drive. I'd probably get the hardtop. Not sure if I'd like the whole vert thing. It's 100+ degrees half the year here.

      BRZ - auto journalists are creaming their pants. I like the look of it and it should handle great.

      Cooper S - Out of warranty repairs are high I guess... More fun than a Miata? Or just more practical?

      GTI - Have driven the DSG, it's great. Seems like a comfy DD.

      Thoughts, etc? Any of these you'd rule out? Thanks CL

    2. Member teklord69's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 12:55 PM #2
      4-dr GTI hands down.

    3. Geriatric Member SSLByron's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 01:18 PM #3
      I'm not normally one to be a transmission snob, but these cars with an auto? The GTI would be the most tolerable in that respect. Strapping low-power four-cylinder engines to slushboxes has never been a recipe for automotive enjoyment.

      If you're going to get a toy that she'll only drive occasionally, why not make it an excuse to teach her to drive stick? Again, I'm usually the last person around here preach about that, but...
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    4. 04-28-2012 01:20 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by teklord69 View Post
      4-dr GTI hands down.
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    5. Member windycityvdub's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 01:21 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by PassSedanGLX View Post
      I'm not normally one to be a transmission snob, but these cars with an auto? The GTI would be the most tolerable in that respect. Strapping low-power four-cylinder engines to slushboxes has never been a recipe for automotive enjoyment.
      This

    6. 04-28-2012 01:24 PM #6
      GTI if you must get an automatic. I can't see the BRZ working well with an auto. C/D just tested the BRZ in the June issue and its street start was 8 seconds with the stick! But if you're both small in stature, the Miata retracting hardtop! Although its suspension is soft and you'll have to call FM..
      Quote Originally Posted by Aseras View Post
      I got the (RX8) engine replaced at 112K miles not because it failed but because I hit a pig on the interstate.

    7. Geriatric Member SSLByron's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 01:45 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Waarp View Post
      GTI if you must get an automatic. I can't see the BRZ working well with an auto. C/D just tested the BRZ in the June issue and its street start was 8 seconds with the stick! But if you're both small in stature, the Miata retracting hardtop! Although its suspension is soft and you'll have to call FM..
      The 0-60 with the auto may actually be better, depending on how it's geared.
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    8. 04-28-2012 01:55 PM #8
      The auto/dsg situation you are in makes me say GTI.

      Also.. if you'll need to pass cars going uphill you might want to take the BRZ off the list - because you could die.

      Other than that.. they are all good cars that can probably be very fun to drive all the time in manual... if you are going to go auto.. then I would go test drive them yourself and see which one does it for you. Auto can really ruin a low powered, to begin with, car like these.
      Last edited by x1000rpms; 04-28-2012 at 01:58 PM.

    9. Member spongebob_squarepants's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 02:13 PM #9
      The automatic / 4cyl combo sucks I know. She knows how to drive a manual, just doesn't like it. We've owned a couple of manual transmission cars... She would only drive this if hers was in the shop or something unforeseen happened anyway.

      Screw it, it's my car, and it's got to be fun to drive. I should just get a stick.

      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun? I understand the Mini has an edge in utility since it has a little cargo room and seats four...

    10. Member Slipstream's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 02:14 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by PassSedanGLX View Post
      If you're going to get a toy that she'll only drive occasionally, why not make it an excuse to teach her to drive stick? Again, I'm usually the last person around here preach about that, but...
      x2

      If this was a shared car situation, sure... But if my marital situation is at all similar to yours, my wife might need to drive my car once or twice a YEAR. Just teach her how to drive a stick so you don't have to restrict your choices over a couple of days a year.
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    11. Member windycityvdub's Avatar
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      04-28-2012 02:18 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      :

      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun? I understand the Mini has an edge in utility since it has a little cargo room and seats four...
      I'd say the Cooper S, but it depends on your preference. You do have more utility in the Mini, and can fit passengers in a squeeze. Not to mention, it's safer and supremely moddable.

      In fact, I'm likely purchasing a low-mileage '06 R53 (older bodystyle) Cooper S next week!

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      04-28-2012 02:24 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun? I understand the Mini has an edge in utility since it has a little cargo room and seats four...
      You're sort of saying two different things here... Which is more fun, and which one is more versatile?

      I would think the Miata would be more fun (based on limited experience in both) but may not be as good of a DD if that's your primary purpose for it. I got to drive a moderately modded R53 from NYC to MD and it was a blast, albeit a tad too stiff due to the coilovers and race buckets.
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    13. 04-28-2012 02:26 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      Screw it, it's my car, and it's got to be fun to drive. I should just get a stick.

      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun?
      LOL! Well at least we know who wears the squarepants in the family! Rear drive is always more fun than front. I'd avoid the Mini just for its ridiculous dash. Your move.
      Quote Originally Posted by Aseras View Post
      I got the (RX8) engine replaced at 112K miles not because it failed but because I hit a pig on the interstate.

    14. 04-28-2012 02:27 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      ...
      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun? I understand the Mini has an edge in utility since it has a little cargo room and seats four...
      Yeah I would go with Cooper S as well. Both cars are really well setup for handling.. but I found the Cooper S engine to be a lot more fun than the unit in the miata.

      My biggest gripe about the miata is the lack of power and especially the sad feeling of the engine at high rpm. I haven't driven every year miata and engine combo though.. so there is a chance that it was just the models I have driven. Which I honestly couldn't tell you which models I have driven..

      I think the comparison cooper S though was an 06... the miatas would have both been between 1998 and 2002 - no clue of the engine and option packages.


      I know newer miata are heavier and more powerful.. perhaps they fixed the anemic high revving nature of the power delivery as well.. i don't know.
      I found the manual trans in both cars to be pretty nice.
      Last edited by x1000rpms; 04-28-2012 at 02:29 PM.

    15. Member spongebob_squarepants's Avatar
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      04-29-2012 01:43 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by Waarp View Post
      Rear drive is always more fun than front. I'd avoid the Mini just for its ridiculous dash. Your move.
      Agree on the Mini Cooper dash. Not sure if I'd get used to it or just be annoyed.

      On the BRZ / FR-S where did people get the idea that the lack of torque is going to be a problem in day-to-day driving? I'm seeing all over CL where the BRZ is ridiculed for being gutless.

      As a former TDI owner, I know how nice torque is on the street. Is the BRZ like one of those peaky sportbikes that need the crap revved out of them to have fun?

    16. 04-29-2012 03:07 AM #16
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      Agree on the Mini Cooper dash. Not sure if I'd get used to it or just be annoyed.

      On the BRZ / FR-S where did people get the idea that the lack of torque is going to be a problem in day-to-day driving? I'm seeing all over CL where the BRZ is ridiculed for being gutless.

      As a former TDI owner, I know how nice torque is on the street. Is the BRZ like one of those peaky sportbikes that need the crap revved out of them to have fun?

      With 150 lbs of torque at 6000 think of the old Acura RSXS. Youll be dropping down 2 gears to pass. Make that worse with the auto. Plus C/D said the motor is loud and sounds like "a cross between a microwave oven and a vacuum cleaner".
      Quote Originally Posted by Aseras View Post
      I got the (RX8) engine replaced at 112K miles not because it failed but because I hit a pig on the interstate.

    17. Member aethelwulf's Avatar
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      04-29-2012 03:14 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by PassSedanGLX View Post
      The 0-60 with the auto may actually be better, depending on how it's geared.
      The auto has taller gears for better economy.

      Personally, I would get the BRZ, with the GTI coming in a close second. Course, I would want to drive the BRZ first, but I've driven a DSG GTI and despite being a pretty avid auto hater, I had a lot of fun in it.
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    18. Member spongebob_squarepants's Avatar
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      04-29-2012 05:04 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Waarp View Post
      With 150 lbs of torque at 6000 think of the old Acura RSXS. Youll be dropping down 2 gears to pass. Make that worse with the auto. Plus C/D said the motor is loud and sounds like "a cross between a microwave oven and a vacuum cleaner".
      Wow on the CD comment. Crappy exhaust note aside, all that downshifting would suck, so I see what you're talking about. Mid-range is everything in the real world.

      Sounds like the GTI, even with DSG, is a very easy to live with car, with more power on tap without revving its guts out.

      Still, having bought three VW's in our house in the last 11 years, part of me wants something different.

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      04-29-2012 06:01 AM #19
      I have to recommend the mini or the gti. If you need more space the gti wins. If not, the mini has plenty for most use. The mini, even with automatic is a very fun car to drive. The dash is actually easy to get used to.

      I do suggest you go drive one though. You'll either love it or hate it.

      If buying new, you can get an extended maintenance plan from mini. Maintenance is easy and parts really aren't expensive if u know where to buy them. But if you buy new that isn't a concern anyway.
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      04-29-2012 06:39 AM #20
      Why is ordering a 128 off the table?

      The BRZ will have more than enough torque and power in the real world. It's become the meme of the moment that u could end up dead. No, it won't have a flat torque band like a small turbo motor, but it's not supposed to. One of the reviews posted in the many BRZ threads was from one of the AE86 forum owners who had a hand in helping make early recommendations for the car. After attending the Scion release in Nevada, he said his first one will be an auto, the second one will be a stick.
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    21. 04-29-2012 07:42 AM #21
      For daily driver duty with an auto?

      The GTI by a mile. Best combination of performance & practicality, with an interior that's actually pleasant.

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      04-29-2012 07:54 AM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      Agree on the Mini Cooper dash. Not sure if I'd get used to it or just be annoyed.
      It's your call in the end, but the steering column mounted tacho has a built-in digital speed readout, so you can essentially ignore the center mounted one.

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      04-29-2012 10:05 AM #23
      There is no point to get Miata if you don't drive it with the top down. The idea of buy a Miata with hardtop and drive it as a coupe is just .

      I personally HATE center dash. So I naturally don't like Mini, specially with that "Favor Flav" size/style speedometer. Their reliability also below average. Probably the worst in the bunch. I rather take chance to buy a first year Toyota with full warranty than an out of warranty Mini.

      GTI... like many said, they are good all-rounder. To me, it translates "jack of all trade, master of none."

      BMW 128, nice car of course. Small car with the biggest engine in the bunch. Probably the highest at insurance (GTI may be higher). Of course get one with warranty.

      About the manual vs auto thing, I am not suggesting you should get manual or not. But here are some info you should know...
      Miata has a very nice manual. I would say it is second to S2000. Probably one of the best manual for cars under $60k. Part of the "Miata experience" is from the manual too.

      For BRZ/FRS, the automatic is actually a good unit. Quoted from Autoblog.
      The FR-S is offered with a choice of six-speed transmissions, both built by Aisin. The manual gearbox is a short-throw unit with Reverse to the left of first gear, accessed only after lifting a collar on the shift lever. The automatic transmission is a modified version of the eight-speed gearbox used on the Lexus IS F, minus two cogs. It is a traditional wet torque converter design, but its software has been engineered to mimic the response of a dual-clutch gearbox. Its three electronic modes (Normal, Sport and Snow) are controlled via a switch on the center console. For improved manual control, there are also F1-patterned paddles mounted on the steering wheel, while a limited-slip differential is standard on the rear-wheel drive coupe, regardless of transmission choice.
      GTI, famous for their DSG. Very smooth.

      BMW/Mini. No comment. Their AT/MT not particularly very good or bad. Both ways are ok.
      Last edited by Avus; 04-29-2012 at 11:50 AM.
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      04-29-2012 10:28 AM #24
      If you get the MINI, know that if you opt for 17 inch wheels, most likely they'll be run flat tires and it will be a very stiff ride commute. I wouldn't even opt for the sport suspension since the stock setup is already stiff. Since 2011, there a digital speedo where the tach is so you dont have to look at the dinner size plate speedometer.

      Also for some reason when i drove the automatic Cooper S. Sometimes the transmission felt jerky or hesistated off the line. This was a brand new cooper S too. I dont know if the tranmission has to adapt to your driving style but I found the stick shift a lot easier to drive and changed the feel of the car.

      The GTI has the best balance, compliance with ride and sportyness. Although if you push it hard, it feels a bit numb compared to Cooper S which seems to be more raw, feel more of the road and what the front wheels are doing. I call the GTI more of a luxury compact with a bit sport. It can still sweep around S turns, but it a lot quieter in doing so and smoother in the suspension department. The MINI has stiff seats, stiff ride, a little louder in my opinion and you can really feel its motions?

      The miata is fine for around town driving. The ride is low and the suspension is suprsingly pretty good for a low 2 seater roadster. The problem lies in, if you want to pass at highway speeds on the highway. I find myself going from 6th to 3rd. The other problem lies in, there no much utility?? But i expect maintainance costs to be relatively inexpensive compared to GTI and MINI over long term. There aren't much that goes wrong with a Miata VS MINI and VW electronics that may go out of whack.

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      04-29-2012 12:57 PM #25
      I suggest the GTI. It's a great car, I love mine. Fit and finish is really good. It's a great commuter too. I'm also gonna suggest the '13 genesis 2.0t. They look much nicer than the first gen. They are more powerful too.

    26. Geriatric Member SSLByron's Avatar
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      04-29-2012 01:21 PM #26
      Quote Originally Posted by aethelwulf View Post
      The auto has taller gears for better economy.
      Right, which could mean that it hits 60 in second gear, not requiring a 2-3 upshift.
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      04-29-2012 01:27 PM #27
      Quote Originally Posted by PassSedanGLX View Post
      Right, which could mean that it hits 60 in second gear, not requiring a 2-3 upshift.
      Good point! I didn't know you needed to shift to 3rd to hit 60 in the BRZ!
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      04-29-2012 01:45 PM #28
      GTI, no if or but.

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      04-29-2012 02:36 PM #29
      The PRHT Miata is fairly quiet on the highway with the top up.
      And the 6 speed auto shifts very positively with the paddle sifters.
      It will not upshift even if you bounce off the rev limiter when it manual mode.
      Let's see... googles... looks like 0 to 60 in 7.0 seconds for the auto compared to 6.5 seconds for the manual.
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      04-29-2012 02:50 PM #30
      First drive 128i, then GTI. That's what I did and it only confirmed my desire to buy the former. Speaking comparatively GTI feels like a girl's car with no resistance to its steering and the pedals. Also the gearstick is less positive. In BMW you feel mechanically connected to the machine in ways GTI can not begin to imitate.

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      04-29-2012 02:55 PM #31
      DD? I excluded the Miata and BRZ immediately, but then you said AT only.

      DSG GTI, no doubt.

      EDIT: oh didn't read this

      Quote Originally Posted by spongebob_squarepants View Post
      The automatic / 4cyl combo sucks I know. She knows how to drive a manual, just doesn't like it. We've owned a couple of manual transmission cars... She would only drive this if hers was in the shop or something unforeseen happened anyway.

      Screw it, it's my car, and it's got to be fun to drive. I should just get a stick.

      So, between the Cooper S and Miata, which one is more fun? I understand the Mini has an edge in utility since it has a little cargo room and seats four...
      I guess I'm a little biased towards the GTI (because I own one in DSG format) but it's really a great little car and has by far the most versatile-to-fun ratio. However, if you're now considering manual, I would definitely test drive a Miata. I've never driven any of the 3 others you've mentioned but I've been told it's a properly fun car to drive, possibly the most for the money.
      Last edited by worth_fixing; 04-29-2012 at 03:08 PM.
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      04-29-2012 11:24 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by worth_fixing View Post
      DD? I excluded the Miata and BRZ immediately, but then you said AT only.

      DSG GTI, no doubt.
      The Miata with the 6 speed and paddle shifters works very well.
      It downshifts quickly on demand and never upshifts by itself in manual mode (lets you engine brake while brakes, and lets you bounce off the rev limter all day if you want).
      If all torque converter automatics worked like the NC Miata's 6 speed paddle shifter unit- I would not have my current level of disdain for them.

      It being a torque converter unit does mean it loses some efficiency to the manual.
      0-60 drops from 6.5 to 7.0 seconds.
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    33. Member windycityvdub's Avatar
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      05-02-2012 10:41 AM #33
      Is getting a leftover 2012 MINI a consideration of yours? Because although they are rare to find, you can get a decent discount.


      I mean, I'm not speaking from experience or anything. I didn't just update my "vehicles" section here...shhhhh.
      (I'll have a thread tonight if I can stop driving it)

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