Long story short(er), it is time for my Forester to go. I moved to the city and it is almost too big for my parking lot and is tight in my parking spot. It also makes finding a parallel spot difficult on the rare occasion I drive somewhere in the city. It also needs rear pads, a belt, a tensioner, I occasionally smell oil after driving it, and the suspension is still wonky after a guy on PCP threw a huge rock into the road right in front of me on an exit ramp last year, which I hit. It is comfortable enough and has heated seats and a huge sunroof (which I never get to use) but also has an awful stereo, gets 24mpg average, and burns oil like a two stroke. I spend about 40% of my time on city streets and 20% in the suburbs with the rest being on the highway. I'm probably stuck in some sort of traffic 50-60% of the time.
I'd really like to pick up a new MKVII GTI but I don't think I can justify spending that kinda money when I only drive 6-7k miles a year. Another bugeye WRX wagon or a blob eye wagon would be cool or a 2nd gen Forester XT. Most examples I'm seeing are high mileage, clapped out, rusty, or are in various stages of STI engine swaps. Everyone wants stupid money for these. I don't have anywhere convenient to work on a car in the city so any self maintenance or repair involves a good drive to the closest friend with an available driveway.
I was bumming around Craigslist looking for something fun and came across an 05 Civic SI hatch for $6500. One owner, only 54k miles on the clock, and not modified or molested. The search function tells me that they don't have a center armrest which may be annoying, are buzzy on the highway, and are slow (compared to my 3300lb Forester, it'll probably feel plenty fast). It also tells me that they are fun to drive, reliable, get acceptable gas mileage, and can haul a lot of stuff which is nice because I can toss my mountain bike in the back without worrying about a hatch rack or roof rack.
What else should I be looking at? I'd guess MKIV and V GTIs are off the table due to age/reliability/most have been beaten on. I also don't really like the 2nd gen Mazda 3 styling. I'd like to stick with a hatchback or small wagon this time around.