Coolest late model 4cyl Coupe under 20k
July 20, 2005 6:41 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for the coolest, sharpest, most sporty Coupe or Convertible that is a 4 Cyl. up to 5 years old that would cost under 20k today that can come in automatic (or some version of SMT) I am aware of the Toyota MR2 Spyder ... and the Eclipse.. but I am not a huge fan of the latter... and would like more options then just the prior! Thanks!

4 cyl because i am 21 and insurance is crazy, but they seem to go much easier on the 4 knockers out there. And I live in Los Angeles so traffic is a bitch and an auto is a must.
posted by crewshell to Travel & Transportation (47 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Three words:

Mee.

Ah.

Tah.
posted by Doohickie at 6:47 PM on July 20, 2005


YUK! NEVER

heres there more words

total

girl

"car"
posted by crewshell at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2005


In addition to the aforementioned Miata:

Toyota Celica GT (Gotta go back to a '99 for that one)
Pontiac Sunfire
Ford Mustang
Hyundai Tiburon
Acura Integra
Audi TT coupe
Chrysler Sebring

and probably at least a dozen others.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2005


Oh god, I don't think such a thing exists! And personally (no offence Doohickie) I woudn't tool around LA in a Miata - you get hit by an Escalade on the freeway in one of those things and you're spending the rest of your life in rehab. If you're lucky.

For the non-convertible option, how about a VW Golf - the GTIs and VR6s are double-fast, look great in silver with tinted windows, and should keep your insurance in check.

If you could afford to push the boat out a little and take the hit for six cylinders, the Lexus IS300 is fantastic fun and you can pick used ones up a pretty reasonable price. And of course they'll run for ever and ever and ever and ever....
posted by forallmankind at 7:11 PM on July 20, 2005


A 2001 or 2002 Audi TT (yes it is 4 cyl) would fit those specs.

Doohickie: A Miata!? So dorky. Did you not read "coolest, sharpest" ??
posted by fourstar at 7:11 PM on July 20, 2005


So you want a 'sporty' car that's also an automatic? Oh-kay. Completely defeats the object, but still.

2001-ish Audi TT coupé, 1.8 four-cylinder w/ DSG.
posted by holgate at 7:17 PM on July 20, 2005


total girl "car"

Maybe. But I'd bet you ten bucks a turbo Miata could kick the ass of any car you can get for under $40,000 (0-60 in about 4.5 seconds, low 12's 1/4 mile at around 120mph, on non-stickys, while retaining full daily-driveability).

Used low-mileage M1 Miata: ~$4500
Flyin' Miata Turbo II kit: ~$5000

But hey, you know best. Go buy yourself a spiffy used Z3 or TT for twice as much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:30 PM on July 20, 2005


I have to laugh a little bit at the guy who can't drive stick complaining that Miatas are "girl cars."

Maybe you'd like an RX-7.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:34 PM on July 20, 2005


holgate: that's BS. I've driven stick for 15 years and now I have an automatic with a steptronic gearbox and it's the hottest wheels I've ever driven. Also, the Lexus I referenced above has paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, which I believe is a la Formula 1. Sure, there was a time when automatics were for old men, but these days they're pretty damn sharp.

Civil_Disobedient: you may well be able to blow away some hot rods in your Flyin' Miata Turbo, but no matter how fast you go, your still gonna look like a girl :-)
posted by forallmankind at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2005


I wish i could do Stick but, its just no feasable with my ability level and the crazy hills i drive through, plus traffic.

the TT does not come in automatic : (

never liked the mustang

and Sunfire ( hahahah crap car)
tiburn is o.k but i still cant get over hyundai
and the sebring is not sporty at all its a big boat!

I've seen the ACURA RSX, that comes in auto and the Toyota Spyder comes in SMT (basically an auto)

those two have my highest ranks.. ill check out the Lexus
posted by crewshell at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2005


and I can put a Kit on any car! thats not an issue. I really want somethign that has nice sleek lines and looks sharp.
posted by crewshell at 7:39 PM on July 20, 2005


"...the sebring is not sporty at all its a big boat!"

I don't know what you're comparing it to, but for a frame of reference I drive a 1979 Ford Ranchero, which could carry a Sebring as its spare tire.

As far as the Sunfire goes, a friend of mine has nearly 100K miles on his with zero problems, which is why I suggested it.

I haven't looked at the pricing on used ones yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the new Mini under $20K for a one- or two-year-old either.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:54 PM on July 20, 2005


found a good one, a 2000 Mercedes SLK is a 4 cyl.. and can go for 20k if u find a good deal.. .hmmm nice.... nicee!!! any others in this type of class you guys can think of?
posted by crewshell at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2005


You actually might be able to squeeze a first year RX-8 in under 20k if you wait for the 2006s to come out. Insurance companies go easy on them because due to the rear suicide doors, they actually qualify as four dours.

Bite the bullet and learn to drive stick. I learned 12 years ago when I was 15 and my brother just learned at 15 a few months ago. It takes a few weeks and somebody who knows how to drive one (and understands how they work) to teach you. We both learned in hilly areas.

And I'm with Civil_D. Performance first. There's a reason that Miata owners are some of the the most cultish and fanatical car enthusiasts out there.

and for what it's worth, I drive a 1996 Integra that I love.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:56 PM on July 20, 2005


Saab Viggen, or just a Saab 9-3 HO 'vert. Cheap insurance, safe, inexpensive used, fun and easy to work on if you want and if you don't, you're in L.A., so you can take it to Walter Wong.

And you won't see 5 of them on every morning on your commute.
posted by Floydd at 8:09 PM on July 20, 2005


Acura RSX.

Honda Preludes were discontinued in 2001, so they come in just under the wire.

You might be able to find a MINI for under 20k.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:11 PM on July 20, 2005


alright -- i have a good list going here

Toyota MR2 Spyder
Mazda RX-8
Acrua RSX
Honda Prelude
M. Benz Slk

I will probably be buying in less then 6 months.. just depends how long my 1990 honda prelude holds out (the handling on that baby is amazing)
posted by crewshell at 8:11 PM on July 20, 2005


crewshell - you're not kidding. That car is about as much fun to drive as anything I've driven and partnered with Honda reliability - good times.

For what it's worth - the Civic Coupe can also be quite fun and reasonably priced new.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:24 PM on July 20, 2005


The 4-cyl SLK runs like an asthmatic dog. Really.

The Miata is a fine little car. The BMW Z3 roadster is in the $20k range if you go back to the 97-8 1.9l 4-cyl. But you may think that's a 'girl car' too. You'd probably like the MG F, but it's manual and ain't sold in the US. Or a Fiat coupé 16v, but, alas, also denied to Americans.

And I'm not going to get into arguments about flappy-paddle gearboxes here, unless we're talking about the Ferrari F430.
posted by holgate at 8:26 PM on July 20, 2005


the more i read about the SAAB the more i like it... i'll have to test drive one for sure..
posted by crewshell at 8:31 PM on July 20, 2005


The 4-cyl SLK runs like an asthmatic dog. Really.

Not at all. They use these the same turbo charged engine as the C230 Kompressor, which is a zippy mofo. Compared to the new SLKs, however, you have a good point. Those new ones have the greatest ass I've ever seen on a car. Round, wide, and perfect for handling. :-)
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:34 PM on July 20, 2005


Maybe. But I'd bet you ten bucks a turbo Miata could kick the ass of any car you can get for under $40,000 (0-60 in about 4.5 seconds, low 12's 1/4 mile at around 120mph, on non-stickys, while retaining full daily-driveability).

You're cheating with the mods. I could do the same (with nothing but an adjustable wastegate) on a 951, Supra, or RX-7 and stay under $40,000.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:37 PM on July 20, 2005




Ok, this costs more than you want to spend, and after you watch this clip you'll never be happy with any car you're thinking of getting.

don't click here [quicktime video, embedded]
posted by mecran01 at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2005


The kompressor's supercharged, not a turbo, 190 HP.
That's 10hp less than a stock Saab 9-3 HO.
Another $700 will get your $12,000 (used) Saab up to ~260 HP
{I can't help it. Saabs are a cult.}
posted by Floydd at 8:46 PM on July 20, 2005


Oh, the above car has a honda engine, supercharged to 300 hp, I think.
posted by mecran01 at 8:47 PM on July 20, 2005


Oh, and fellas? The kid's in L.A., 0 to 60 times are meaningless on the 410.
posted by Floydd at 8:50 PM on July 20, 2005


Meaningless?

Is a codpiece meaningless?

Are gold neck chains and speedos meaningless?

Is there not a pacific coast highway in Kalifornia?


posted by mecran01 at 8:54 PM on July 20, 2005


mecran01: Wow - I'm out of breath just watching that: 0-60 in 2.9 seconds!!!

Floydd: it can be a bit slow here during the day in LA, but with a radar detector you sure can tear it up on the freeways at night. And we are surrounded by desert, as well as the incredibly fun PCH. (I think you mean the 405 btw, not the meaningless 410 :-).
posted by forallmankind at 9:01 PM on July 20, 2005


I'm not a car guy, but that Ariel Atom clip has filled me with insatiable car lust. I still think about ways to get one. "Hey, maybe 15 of us could buy one, then share it!" etc. etc.
posted by mecran01 at 9:12 PM on July 20, 2005


There you go! There you have it! Real-world L.A. driving codified!
0 - 100 - 0 as fast-as-you-fuckin'-can 'cuz you'll be nuzzlin' up the ass of that Bentley as soon as the on-ramp ends.

{405, 410, L.A., LA, what's the diff?}

The Ariel Atom is faster than any motorcycle I've ever ridden....
posted by Floydd at 9:20 PM on July 20, 2005


Subaru WRX, the sedan and not the wagon.

Seriously, the most fun car I've ever driven. There's a reason they win rallies all the time in them.

4-cyl, 4-door (not coupe/convertible), but you won't care.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 9:21 PM on July 20, 2005


The Miata is usually considered a "girl's car" by those who know nothing about cars.

An SLK, on the otherhand, is hugely a girl's car. Actually, it's more a 40-year-old lady's car.

I'll echo 5MeoCMP's opinion for sheer fun-to-drive-ness in your price range.
posted by DuoJet at 9:36 PM on July 20, 2005


Not a recommendation of any illegal activity, but the police in Sydney (Australia, not Nova Scotia) eventually had to get themselves a bunch of WRX pursuit cars, as they couldn't catch a runner in a WRX otherwise.

It's not that they're hugely fast in a straight line (well, okay, they're damn quick), it's that they stick to the road like shit to a blanket, and the full-time 4wd gets the power down HARD, even in gravel.

The odd thing is that, here in the US, most people seem to treat them as a slightly faster standard Subaru, which they most definitely are not.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 10:59 PM on July 20, 2005


For what it's worth - the Civic Coupe can also be quite fun and reasonably priced new.

Not really. It can be fun, but it's crap once you've driven a car with a decent engine in it. You have to mod the engine all to hell and back to get anything useful out of it, and the mcpherson struts that they went to in 2000 for the main-line coupe models are just pure shite, even though struts aren't all that bad in cars that handle them well. I *love* honda, and I won't drive anything in the current generation 'cept the RSX, TSX and V6 Coupe.
Speaking of which, older V6 coupes can be had for well under $20k and are pretty frigging cool if you do them up right. I'm a huge fan of little cars and lurved my RSX, but I love my big ol' 2000 V6 coupe even better.
posted by SpecialK at 11:39 PM on July 20, 2005


I've got a 97 Prelude and like it a lot.

But the idea that someone driving a Prelude -- with an automatic no less -- is complaining that something else is a "girl car" boggles my mind. Preludes are consummate secretary cars, back to their creation.

If you just want something that looks good and not like a "girl car," drive around and pull into dealerships where you see things you think are suitably manly. Nobody can help you with that but you, since we don't know your tastes.

If you actually want a good sporty car, suck it up and drive stick and get a Mazdaspeed Miata or a WRX (or WRX STI).

Or, get something cheap and shitty to tide you over the next 3, 4 years or so and then get a new-Mustang convertible from next year.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:20 AM on July 21, 2005


Re: Atom2 -- Holy fucking fuck. That's awesome!

the TT does not come in automatic : (

Good for Audi. At least someone's got their brain screwed in. Look, if you want an automatic sports car, the definitive example (and really, the only one I can think of that must be auto) is a Corvette. True, Mustangs also make a good showing in automatic, but the 'Vette is your standard.

A used Vette will run you anywhere from $10k and up. Spend the extra $10k left over to fix it up proper and you'll have a "real" sports car, with automatic transmission, that by all accounts should have fairly good lines (provided it's a Stingray--never much cared for the 80s designs).

and Sunfire ( hahahah crap car)

On one hand you want amazing performance, on the other hand, you want amazing style, on one foot you want automatic and on the other you want it for less than $20k. Are you for real?

tiburn is o.k but i still cant get over hyundai
and the sebring is not sporty at all its a big boat!


Hyundai is a great car manufacturer these days, and you'll get a 10-year warranty to prove it. But the lines on the Tiburon are blech. A Sebring is a convertible... well, that's about it. It's not a sports car... it's barely a "sporty" car.

I've seen the ACURA RSX, that comes in auto and the Toyota Spyder comes in SMT (basically an auto)

The Spyder? Jesus, might as well get yourself a Mitsubishi Eclipse. At least Honda makes a real sports car (the S2000), but then, you need to shift to take advantage of its sick redline.

a 2000 Mercedes SLK is a 4 cyl.. and can go for 20k

Why not just buy an Integra and put a KOMPRESSOR badge on the back? (no offense to the Acura camp) :)

You're cheating with the mods. I could do the same (with nothing but an adjustable wastegate) on a 951, Supra, or RX-7 and stay under $40,000.

First off, there was no "No Mods" restrictions. Second, my point was that there are options available for far below his $20k pricetag that would still blow his mind. Third, you're absolutely right that there are other cars out there that would also qualify.

While I can't comment on the 951/Supra's reliability over time, the RX-7 (beast that it was), was not terribly reliable. At least, not compared to something like the Miata, which has Camry-like reliability. If it weren't for oil changes, you could weld the hood shut. I know a guy who's got over 400,000 miles on his Miata. They're tanks.

0 to 60 times are meaningless on the 410

If you just want a pretty-looking car with shit performance, get a Fiero with the Ferarri 355 body kit. Here you go, in all its craptacular beauty.

but the police in Sydney eventually had to get themselves a bunch of WRX pursuit cars, as they couldn't catch a runner in a WRX otherwise

The WRX is an insanely fast car, and a fantastic value. But I doubt very much they offer that baddassitude in automatic, if just on sheer principle.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:41 AM on July 21, 2005


Another one to look at is the Scion Tc. (It's not the ugly Scion.) It's around $17,000 new, and pretty sporty in an Eclipse or Celica way.
posted by smackfu at 8:01 AM on July 21, 2005


The RX-8 isn't a 4-cylinder. The WRX isn't a coupe. :)

The MR2 Spyder is definitely a decent car, underpowered but so lightweight that they still feel quick. The Honda S2000, if you're comfortable shifting at 9000RPMs, is a very sweet car. As always, the Miata is a go-kart and can be made to go fast, even if they aren't too fast from the factory.

You didn't specify if you wanted front or rear-wheel drive. Front wheel is less sporty, but there are some fun coupes in this category: Honda Prelude (last year produced was 2001), Toyota Celica GT, Honda/Acura Integra GS-R or Type R.
posted by knave at 8:59 AM on July 21, 2005


Sorry, I meant to write Celica GT-S, that's the faster version.
posted by knave at 9:02 AM on July 21, 2005


Can you guys stop berrating me about my NEED for a auto. You trying living in the hollywood hills AND then call a stick shift practical.. geess

Thanks to everyone who gave me straight answers

and yes I do want a good amount of performance AND nice lines AND under 20k. I didn't say the car had to be new.

I had a 77 Stingray (well technically the 76 is the last year that SAID stingray but the 77 had the same body style without the badge) And as much as I would loveto get one of those again I need something more reliable then a 30 year old car.

and DAMN! that ATOM IS INSANE!!! INSANE I SAY!

and i said no to the miata simple because of the lines, the lines just dont work for me.

And put an everly prelude next to a miata, theres no way a lude was be considered a secretary car... the early ones wehre ranked by car and driver as the 2nd best handling imports and this was againt all the big dogs..
posted by crewshell at 9:09 AM on July 21, 2005


From what you say of your preferences / tastes, what I'd do in your boat is pick up something cheap and uninspiring, and save my pennies.

Then when you're 25, your insurance rates drop, and they're available used, pick up a Mustang GT convertible. Damn if that ain't a purty car, and automatic and muscle go together like two going-together things that go well together. Until then, make do.

The RX-8 isn't a 4-cylinder.

RX-8 isn't an any cylinder, being a rotary.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:32 AM on July 21, 2005


And as much as I would loveto get one of those again I need something more reliable then a 30 year old car.

Age is not a measure of reliability. See: Slant-Six

And at the very least, you can actually work on a 30 year-old car without a $$diagnostic $$computer, and parts are cheap and plentiful.

OK, here you go. I got just what you want. You'll never have to worry about sharing the road with one, everyone will come up to you asking "What is that!?" girls will line up to sit in the passenger seat, they're sub-$20k, and they run like a bat out of hell: behold, The Manta Mirage.

I think you'll put up with it being manual-only. And I doubt you'll find better "lines."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on July 21, 2005


Now had you said San Francisco your insistence on a auto may have made some sense but the Hollywood Hills? Just get over it and learn to drive a manual, then learn to heel-toe-shift. The standard WRX (227 hp 2.0Lt.) does come in automatic the STI version (currently 300 hp 2.5Lt.) does not. Either way it would be foolish not to at least test drive one, great lines or not.

The Atom is insane and in more ways then just its speed. Try living with a car with no wind screen in England, and when it's wet, which it often is, the car truly becomes insane. And in the wet you can kiss 2.9 sec. goodbye. A track day car you can drive to the track, something every country should have.
posted by iwouldificould at 10:32 AM on July 21, 2005


My god I can't believe how cheap used WRXs are.
posted by lbergstr at 11:54 AM on July 21, 2005


I'd hate to drive the Atom2 on a slushy winter day too. But still, so amazingly, face-ripping fast.

Funny how the civil ask.mefi tradition goes out the window when it's cars we're talking about.
posted by mecran01 at 4:29 AM on July 25, 2005


Oooh, another Manta Mirage link
posted by mecran01 at 4:32 AM on July 25, 2005


how can i still respond to this almost a year later?
posted by matkline at 10:12 PM on July 8, 2006


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