Sports cars for Canadian winters?
March 20, 2013 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I want a sports car. I live in Winnipeg. This does not compute.

So my wife has given me the go ahead to shop for our second car. We have a nice new family truckster for towing and lugging the kids and pets around (2012 V6 Santa Fe) so I want a daily driver to take to work.

However, I am a big 9 year old at heart and I also want something for summer drives and the occasional cruise night. This would be a lot easier if I didn't have to deal with 6" deep ice ruts for 4-5 months of the year.

I'm torn between going with a RWD coupe or an AWD performance sedan. RWD means getting snow tires, and hating it for a few days each winter after a big dump of snow. AWD means getting snow tires and loving it all winter long. AWD performance sedans, however, tend to be more expensive, more expensive to maintain, and there is a limited selection.

I'm buying new and I'd like to stay under $50k CDN with all taxes and fees. The closer to $40k the better. Hell $30k would be even better than that. I'm fine with a stick but my wife would really prefer something with an automatic since she can't drive a manual.

I've considered a few options but there seem to be serious flaws in each:

- Mitsubishi Evo - Expensive in a manual, and extremely expensive with a dual-clutch auto.
- Subaru WRX STI - Manual only, ugly as sin.
- Hyundai Genesis Coupe - RWD winter issues, questionable tranny
- Inifiniti G37x - $$$
- BMW 328i Xdrive - $$$

I rarely see RWD cars on the road here in the winter so I am pretty leery about that, otherwise I think I would get in the Genesis without question. Is there something else I should be test driving? Am I being unreasonably worried about the RWD?
posted by WinnipegDragon to Travel & Transportation (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You are NOT being unreasonably worried about the RWD, that is a MESS in ice and snow.

I think you'll be happiest with the BMW. They'll have special stuff in that like slip differential that will really improve the drive. Yes, you'll pay a ton whenever you take it to the dealer for service, but that's why you want this vehicle, because you want performance and safety.

I'd say drive te BMW and the Infinity and pick the one you like the best. You may be able to get a deal on one that's a model year old (they may still have soem 2011 in stock somewhere.)

You'll never regret buying the best.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:46 AM on March 20, 2013


Dodge Charger Hemi with the 8-speed and AWD. Fast, beautiful, comfy, handles surprisingly well for a big car, nice electronics package, great in the snow.

Also, give the Audi S4 a whirl.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2013


My father briefly had a RWD car in Canada. This is a very bad idea. If you are even considering one -- and in Winnipeg! -- then you are not being unreasonably worried.
posted by jeather at 12:02 PM on March 20, 2013


The WRX STi is only ugly on the outside, and since you'll be in it with the biggest grin on your face you've ever worn it won't matter what the outside looks like.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:04 PM on March 20, 2013


Ignoring the traction issue for a moment, there's quite a gulf between an Evo/STI and a 3-series sedan or G37. You might want to test drive an example of each kind of car and decide what's most important to you in the luxury/HP/handling/looks categories.

(Personally I would consider a Focus ST but I refuse to spend money on useless horsepower or German electronics).
posted by selfnoise at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2013


The WRX STi is only ugly on the outside

A co-worker has one, and I volunteered to go with him one day to pick up some stuff for the office. I didn't get to drive it, but it was fun as all get-out to ride in. This is non-snowy coastal California, but I know he takes it up to Tahoe a few times a winter.
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This may sound or be a bit nuts, but I know people in your situation who spent that sorta money on something like a Mazda 3 for easy, day-to-day chugging around and a lightly used Miata, Mustang GT or some such for fun.
posted by ambient2 at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2013


I also live in Canada as well and drove a RWD car one winter quite a few years ago and vowed never to do it again.

I can't really comment on the cars that you've listed, but did want to add that my cubicle mate has a Hyundai Genesis Coupe and yesterday, when we had a huge snowstorm here, he came in to work a few hours late swearing and complaining that his car made the drive absolutely miserable.
posted by ohmy at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2013


I did a fairly cursory examination of the autosport winter rally club pages a few months ago prior to buying a car in January. I remember seeing a lot of WRXs and Evos in the winning spots.

I grew up driving manual and automatic RWD cars in Ontario (followed by lots of terrible FWD ones). We ended up with an AWD Forrester in January. We've had a couple of big falls since then. For the price of not being able to do easy doughnuts, I'm never buying anything but an AWD again. Mazdas, in particular, are really fun on summer roads, but terrible cars in the snow.
posted by bonehead at 12:29 PM on March 20, 2013


I agree that if you're wanting to drive it in winter, you're best to stick to AWD. I was pleasantly surprised to see your budget (it's a lot easier to work with $50k than $30k) - you can get some really nice rides for $50k. Of the cars you mention, I would go for the Evo with the dual clutch because of this. It will significantly outperform the 328, and the 335 with X-drive will put you out of your budget range. It will also be a lot sharper to drive than the Infiniti. In fact, I'm not sure anything would drive quite as fast in the corners for the money.

The other car that really should be on your list is the VW Golf R. The only downside is that it's manual-only. That might be a dealbreaker for you, but in every other respect it's sort of perfect for you. Don't expect any deals on the price, though - you'd be lucky just to get one.
posted by Dasein at 12:30 PM on March 20, 2013


Audis are great in the snow (I've done it many times), and they have a few sporty models. S4, S5, one of the TTs, etc. IMHO the Audi awd system is better than bmw's, but BMW has other advantages. Depends on your priorities. Definitely don't make a decision without at least test driving an Audi or two.
posted by primethyme at 12:33 PM on March 20, 2013


Yeah, but the S4 starts at $53k in Canada, and the A4 doesn't hold a candle to the Evo in terms of performance.
posted by Dasein at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2013


I owned a WRX for a number of years in Northern California, and came here to recommend it. It is a sedan, so it's not as sporty as all sports out, but it is quite fun to drive. I assume the STi is even more fun, but I didn't want to shell out the money (given my inability to get my car serviced on a regular basis at that point in my life; iirc it's 75 extra HP for ~$10K). The awd and turbocharging was great in tahoe in the winter (even with all weather tires), and it was totally fun as a commuter car as well.

You might also try the bmw 3 series' 4wd versions, but be prepared to pay twice as much (and no turbocharging).
posted by Phredward at 12:47 PM on March 20, 2013


Nthing Audis. A used car will bring your price in line, and you'll love the drive. And they're sooo pretty.

Also, please ask your wife to learn to drive a stick. It's a basic adult skill, and she should know it for her own safety and convenience. It's trivially easy to do, and way fun too.
posted by Capri at 12:56 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So far for the money the STI is the winner, but I don't know if I can get past the looks. The hatch is marginally better than the sedan at least.

I might just have to scrounge and plan and hold out for the SST Evo...

Thanks for largely reaffirming my fear of RWD.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:56 PM on March 20, 2013


The very, very first thing I would ask, before a model or drivetrain even enters the picture, would be if you are willing to consider a used car, even though you stated you want to look at new. I don't know how horrible the used car market is in Canada, especially as far as rust goes, but I'd have to imagine that reputable dealers, at least, avoid selling rust buckets. I ask because the true shortcut to performance car bliss is the used car market. Nothing depreciates like a car, and not only will you be benefiting from someone else's financial investment, but it will allow you to buy things that would be seriously out of your league otherwise.

Okay, first, drivetrain. With traction control in the advanced state it is these days, I would say that RWD is less of a problem than it used to be - but still no patch on a well-engineered AWD system. However, as you've noticed, true performance hardware with an AWD drivetrain is not exactly common. There's also performance characteristics to consider. AWD, unless it's the truly bonkers setups in things like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or really high-end Audi sports cars (things with RS in front of their names and way out of your price range), will understeer before they drift, powerslide, or otherwise become entertaining. That means that the front wheels will break traction before the rears, and instead of turning, the car will simply plow forwards. Much safer, easier to recover from, and incredibly annoying in a car you want to drive truly fast. If you want a car that breaks loose at the rear, or simply doesn't blunt the performance edge by understeering when you start to do more than just tag-fight with it, know that AWD could be an obstacle in your goal to reach true driving nirvana if you don't get the right car. The latest Subaru Impreza WRX STI, in particular, has had problems with being too soft and too prone to understeer when provoked. They've improved it, but it's still not as sharp or precise as the

Next, I would ask if you what a sport car, or a sporty car. There's a big difference: a sport car is a dedicated performance machine that happens to also be able to carry people and things, a sporty car is a regular car with a bit more oomph and a suspension and chassis that's more communicative than not. The Lancer Evo is a sport car. The BMW 328ix is a sporty car. The Hyundai Genesis is a sport car, the Infiniti G37x is a sporty car. The intent of the car is very important, because if you think you will be happy with a sporty car, then I'd say get a hot hatchback and be done with it. FWD - not AWD, I wouldn't touch the Golf R with a pole, the AWD is enormously heavy and not very smart, and the car underpowered for its weight - means that it's stable and safe in the snow, and a well-designed hot hatch FWD chassis will actually be more entertaining than most AWD systems, which are mostly designed for dentists' wives to not kill themselves. I like the Ford Focus ST, I just put my mom (who loves her a good powerslide and drop-clutch launch) in one.

If you want a dedicated performance machine, then the STI and Evo are really the only way to go in your price range for AWD, and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe a great choice for RWD. The Ford Mustang is a great choice as well, a highly, highly underrated car.
posted by Punkey at 1:06 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Grr, the STI isn't as sharp or precise - or as fun to drive - as the Lancer Evo. If you can possibly swing the Lancer Evo, get that instead.
posted by Punkey at 1:14 PM on March 20, 2013


I'd be careful with a used sports car or sporty car -- cars like the Evo or STI give people a lot of bang for their buck, and are therefore popular with both the tuner crowd and the idiot 20-year-old crowd, and both of those crowds are hard on cars. You're unlikely to find a used STI that has been driven by a grandmother to church and back once a week and nowhere else.

Also, if you're considering sporty FWD cars a shot (like the Focus ST), consider the VW GTI as well.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2013


Finding a used sports car - particularly one popular with idiots - is an art, agreed. But it can be done. Dealers, in particular, are a great resource. Again, I can't speak to Canadian law, but dealers in the US are held liable if something blows up within a certain time period after purchase of a used car, so most perform a decent systems check. If you're really concerned, independent mechanics will perform a used car checkup for $100-150 that will look for the usual signs of idiocy. I never buy a third-party used car without having a checkup performed first.
posted by Punkey at 1:20 PM on March 20, 2013


You're going to read this, and you're going to think "no, no, no."

Nevertheless, test drive a Nissan Juke, an AWD automatic one. If you hate CVTs, test it in sport mode, where the CVT has shift points like a traditional automatic. More importantly -- okay, MOST importantly -- it has a little 1.6 turbo, so the gas mileage is good, and the performance is surprising.

"No, no, no." Just...do it. Drive one. It's not a pretty car on the outside, but it is a surprisingly fun car to drive, it has great ground clearance, it has AWD, it is reliable, and you won't see yourself around every corner.

Unless you live in Los Angeles, apparently, because I see them everywhere I go.
posted by davejay at 1:28 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and you can get 'em cheap. I don't know Canadian pricing, but a top-of-the-line one here with great stereo, navigation and sunroof can be picked up easily for US24,000.
posted by davejay at 1:30 PM on March 20, 2013


The Juke may be fun to drive for a small crossover, but the OP wants a sports car. Come on. There's no comparison.
posted by Dasein at 1:33 PM on March 20, 2013


...actually, a Juke isn't a bad idea. Throw it on the list if you want.
posted by Punkey at 1:41 PM on March 20, 2013


Skip the STi in favor of the WRX. The 6-speed is geared very short, and you will shift and shift and shift and shift and still not be at the end of your driveway. The WRX has 5 gears, much more sane gearing, and is every bit as fast in measured comparisons. It's also a lot less punishing to drive in day-to-day situations over broken pavement, and the front brake pads don't cost $600 (my WRX has STi brakes up front).
posted by TheNewWazoo at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a friend at work who drives a Juke and loves it, but just looking at the height... It's not what I'm looking for.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2013


I think I'm going to gather up the extra pennies and get the Evo. Thanks for the advice all!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:39 PM on March 21, 2013


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