New car shopping: compact, premium, fun-to-drive, $30k

Mitlov

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Hey all, the Civic Si that I've been driving for ten years is getting long in the tooth and not holding together particularly well anymore. Next year for my birthday I'm gonna get myself a new car. I'm looking for a C-segment car (compact by US terminology, midsize by UK terminology). I want a definite step up in interior quality and refinement from my Si, but I don't care either way about brand prestige. I want something that's fun-to-drive instead of just a transportation appliance, but it's not like I'm going to autocross it or anything. And I'm looking to spend about US$30k.

I have three options that are springing out to me right now, but I'd also like input from others on these three or other options.

Option 1: Mazda3 hatchback 6MT. The current-generation Mazda3 is a definite step above Honda/Toyota/Ford in interior quality, and I personally love the controversial looks. And I can afford it brand new, fully-loaded (it comes in about $28k).

Mazda-3-2019-800-02.jpg


Option 2: Audi A3 nearly-new. I know it's just a Golf with a good interior...but that honestly sounds like a good thing. New and typically equipped, it comes in at more than I want to spend. But a base-model (180hp turbo four, dual-clutch, FWD, heated leather seats) that a dealership is selling after one year of being a dealer loaner car comes in at just under $30k.

Audi-A3_Sedan-2017-800-01.jpg


Option 3: Hyundai Ioniq Touring. Fully-loaded, the interior is nicer than say a comparably-equipped Hyundai Elantra, but it's admittedly a step behind the Mazda and Audi options. On the other hand, the fuel economy is incredible, the smartphone integration is second to none, and the dual-clutch transmission and agile chassis means it's decidedly more fun-to-drive than other hybrids like the Prius. Comes in at slightly over $30k fully-loaded, but the fuel savings would offset that.

Hyundai-Ioniq-2020-800-03.jpg


Thoughts on these, or anything else I should make sure to look at given my criteria?
 

Steve

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Ford Focus ST - fun and sporty. And a great value. Right in your price range.
 
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Mitlov

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I'm quite please with my Honda FIT sport. I drove it from Texas to California back and forth every year for the past 10 years.

I currently drive a Civic Si, and I'm looking for a step up in refinement, not a step down like from the Civic to the Fit.

Ford Focus ST - fun and sporty. And a great value. Right in your price range.

Unfortunately Ford is no longer selling the Focus in the USA, as part of their "SUVs and trucks and Mustangs only" move. I also am a little suspicious of Ford interior quality.
 

Steve

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I currently drive a Civic Si, and I'm looking for a step up in refinement, not a step down like from the Civic to the Fit.



Unfortunately Ford is no longer selling the Focus in the USA, as part of their "SUVs and trucks and Mustangs only" move. I also am a little suspicious of Ford interior quality.
Bummer. I hadn't heard that. The Focus and the Fiesta were great little cars. Edit: Looks like it had to do with the automatic transmission.
 

granfire

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the ones you have listed...hmm
I think it's a tossup between the Audi and the Hyundai.
Personally speaking, I want a Nissan Altima. but that is well below your search category.
 

JR 137

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I’ll never buy a car brand new. Way too much of a financial hit, and you get so much more car for your money buying used. I look for something 2-3 years old with around 30k miles or less, and certified used. Quite often the certified used cars have a longer warranty than new ones.

In February I bought my wife a 2016 Toyota Highlander. Yes it was 4 years old, but barely. 31k miles. Warranty for the balance of 100k miles and/or 10 years. Brand new price was almost $36k, I paid $23,500. I don’t know of any comparable sized and speced suv I could’ve bought for around $24k brand new.

Hyundais are very enticing for the money. As the son of a mechanic and someone who knows several people who’ve owned them (including my wife), stay away. Notably more expensive and higher maintenance than the Japanese cars, far less reliable medium and especially long term as well.
 

dvcochran

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My wife drives a Toyota Camry hybrid. I have been very impressed with it. We have made some long trips and it is extremely comfortable. My only knock would be that it has leather seats and I hate the feel of leather. Doesn't breathe at all.
 

Steve

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I’ll never buy a car brand new. Way too much of a financial hit, and you get so much more car for your money buying used. I look for something 2-3 years old with around 30k miles or less, and certified used. Quite often the certified used cars have a longer warranty than new ones.

In February I bought my wife a 2016 Toyota Highlander. Yes it was 4 years old, but barely. 31k miles. Warranty for the balance of 100k miles and/or 10 years. Brand new price was almost $36k, I paid $23,500. I don’t know of any comparable sized and speced suv I could’ve bought for around $24k brand new.

Hyundais are very enticing for the money. As the son of a mechanic and someone who knows several people who’ve owned them (including my wife), stay away. Notably more expensive and higher maintenance than the Japanese cars, far less reliable medium and especially long term as well.
Agreed 3 years old is perfect, because you're usually getting a well cared for, low mileage lease return.
 
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Mitlov

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I’ll never buy a car brand new. Way too much of a financial hit, and you get so much more car for your money buying used. I look for something 2-3 years old with around 30k miles or less, and certified used. Quite often the certified used cars have a longer warranty than new ones.

Other message boards are saying the same thing. And a 2-3 year old Audi A4 checks all the boxes of what I'm looking for (from handling to interior materials to reasonable fuel economy even with Quattro), it's easy to find used in good condition for $30k, and has superb Consumer Reports ratings.
 

JR 137

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I used to think that way. One day I just realize that I only live once. I should treat myself a bit nicer. A new car can give me a safe feeling for many years. That kind of feeling even money cannot buy it.
Everyone has to do whatever makes them happy. For me, it’s not about “not treating myself nicer.” It’s the opposite, actually. For the approximately $24k I spent on my wife’s Highlander, nothing brand new was nearly as good.

As Miltov (OP) was saying, $30k for a brand new Audi A3 or a 2-3 year old A4 with low mileage for the same money. I’d take the right pre-owned A4 over a new A3 any day and be much happier, but that’s just me.

Me, I’ve got quite a while before I’m car shopping. Hopefully anyway. I got a 2007 Volvo S40 a few months back. My father bought it from a long time customer of his and did some repairs. I gave my father what he had invested into it. 59,000 miles on a 2007 is practically unheard of. 5 cylinder turbo, all wheel drive, 6 speed manual transmission. Fully loaded. I love that car. I’ve wanted a small, fast, fun and dependable car back since I bought my 2006 Highlander when we found out we were having our first daughter. That Highlander was also 3 years old, 30k miles, certified used, and a good $15k less than the sticker price.

Buying 2-3 years old with low mileage and factory warranty gets you far more for your money. If you’ve got a specific budget, go used. If you really want a specific car and can afford it brand new, that’s another thing I guess.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I’d take the right pre-owned A4 over a new A3 any day and be much happier, but that’s just me.
Why would anybody want to sell his 3 years old car? How do you know that nobody was killed in that car?

Someone told me that he bought a used car. Sometime he could see a person sat in the back seat through his mirror. But when he turned his head around, the back seat was empty. That car always had bad smell. Later on he found out that someone committed suicide in that car. When people found out the dead body, the body was already rotten in that car.
 
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JR 137

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Why would anybody want to sell his 3 years old car? How do you know that nobody was killed in that car?

Someone told me that he bought a used car. Sometime he could see a person sat in the back seat through his mirror. But when he turned his head around, the back seat was empty. That car always had bad smell. Later on he found out that someone committed suicide in that car. When people found out the dead body, the body was already rotten in that car.
People lease cars for a few years. The returned cars get sold. Or people trade their car in for the newest model. Happens all the time. Most used cars on dealer lots are former lease vehicles.

As far as the rest of your post... yeah... I just don’t know what to say...
 
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Mitlov

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Why would anybody want to sell his 3 years old car? How do you know that nobody was killed in that car?

Someone told me that he bought a used car. Sometime he could see a person sat in the back seat through his mirror. But when he turned his head around, the back seat was empty. That car always had bad smell. Later on he found out that someone committed suicide in that car. When people found out the dead body, the body was already rotten in that car.

The market is FULL of three-year-old luxury cars. Probably the majority of new luxury cars are leased, not purchased, and a lease is traditionally three years, which means that there are a TON of three-year-old cars on the market.

Saying "I won't buy used because maybe there was a dead body in here" is extraordinary specific and unlikely.
 

dvcochran

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I’ll never buy a car brand new. Way too much of a financial hit, and you get so much more car for your money buying used. I look for something 2-3 years old with around 30k miles or less, and certified used. Quite often the certified used cars have a longer warranty than new ones.

In February I bought my wife a 2016 Toyota Highlander. Yes it was 4 years old, but barely. 31k miles. Warranty for the balance of 100k miles and/or 10 years. Brand new price was almost $36k, I paid $23,500. I don’t know of any comparable sized and speced suv I could’ve bought for around $24k brand new.

Hyundais are very enticing for the money. As the son of a mechanic and someone who knows several people who’ve owned them (including my wife), stay away. Notably more expensive and higher maintenance than the Japanese cars, far less reliable medium and especially long term as well.
The reason I buy new service trucks is for the warranty and ease of having a replacement if one goes down. Our local Ford and Dodge dealers have a good service truck program and keep utility body loaners on hand. Loaners are part of the negotiated deal for the life of the trucks so a good insurance policy to have in a situation where the truck(s) are a money maker for you. I have little problem with Chevy/GMC but our dealer is not that great.

My favorite truck that I own and the one I drive the most is my '99 F250 with 330,000 miles on it. Butt ugly but I love that old truck.
My wife is about due for a new ride and we likely will buy used car 1-2 years old as well.
 

JR 137

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The reason I buy new service trucks is for the warranty and ease of having a replacement if one goes down. Our local Ford and Dodge dealers have a good service truck program and keep utility body loaners on hand. Loaners are part of the negotiated deal for the life of the trucks so a good insurance policy to have in a situation where the truck(s) are a money maker for you. I have little problem with Chevy/GMC but our dealer is not that great.

My favorite truck that I own and the one I drive the most is my '99 F250 with 330,000 miles on it. Butt ugly but I love that old truck.
My wife is about due for a new ride and we likely will buy used car 1-2 years old as well.
Service/business vehicles are a different thing. A friend of mine leases his work pickup truck because it makes more financial sense somehow. Tax write offs, maintenance costs, stuff like that. His brother is his accountant and crunches his numbers constantly. His truck doesn’t take a beating; he needs it to pull a trailer which has his mobile workshop in it. He makes custom fit golf clubs and travels to different golf courses with his workshop and simulator. It’s not like a construction or farm truck that’s going to have a dent in every panel with in a year. That would be a horrendous lease return bill.
 

JR 137

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The reason I buy new service trucks is for the warranty and ease of having a replacement if one goes down. Our local Ford and Dodge dealers have a good service truck program and keep utility body loaners on hand. Loaners are part of the negotiated deal for the life of the trucks so a good insurance policy to have in a situation where the truck(s) are a money maker for you. I have little problem with Chevy/GMC but our dealer is not that great.

My favorite truck that I own and the one I drive the most is my '99 F250 with 330,000 miles on it. Butt ugly but I love that old truck.
My wife is about due for a new ride and we likely will buy used car 1-2 years old as well.
My father has an F350 Super Duty with the International Harvester diesel engine. It was given to him by a friend of his because the guy didn’t want to fix it and it had paid for itself 5x over. It had 185k miles on it.

My father did the repairs, which were labor intensive and not much in parts cost. About 375k miles on it now. A dent in pretty much every body panel, scratched up pretty good too.

I borrow it any time I need a truck. I get comments every time too. The scrap yard guys asked if I was leaving the truck along with the metal I was dumping. The Lowe’s guy said “I guess I don’t have to be too careful” when he pulled up with the forklift to load a pallet of pavers onto the bed. It gets funny comments everywhere. My response is it’s a work truck that refuses to retire.
 

EdwardA

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Here's mine. Everything is brand new, including a GSR Vtec and LSD trans. Did all the work myself and it cost me a little more than half what the OP is talking about spending. Also added ground control with eibach 15% stronger springs and tokico adjustible struts. Every bushing, berring, ball joints. Everything.

1990 Acura Integra
1990TegLs-800wpxl.jpg
 
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