Hi folks, here is my tale....
I have been a member of the forum for a long time, since April 2002, when I first considered buying a WRX. At the time I was coming out of my second Ford Probe, which was not a very reliable vehicle (unlike the first). Although I liked the new WRX a lot, I ended up swayed by a Jeep Wrangler. I decided I wanted a convertable, and for some reason, the Jeep seemed like a good idea. Overall, it wasn't bad. I had a lot of fun with that Jeep. However, now 5 years later, it is time for a new vehicle, and I really wanted to get back into a more sporty car as my daily ride.
The search has been ongoing for a long time, as I drive and consider options. I started out thinking I would go RWD muscle, and drove a Mustang GT and GTO. Both were very nice vehicles, but the mustang felt overdone on power, underdone on handling, and the GTO just seemed like a really fast, big car. Nice, but I prefer something that feels lighter and more maneuverable.
I also have a soft spot for the Solstice GXP. I have followed Pontiac's new 2 seater very closely since the original concept at the 2002 NAIAS, and have thought about buying one numerous times. They are a blast to drive! However, some practicality had to enter the equation too. That car has no trunk, and with just a touch over 3 inches of ground clearance, would be useless in a Buffalo winter. I already have a summer toy in my 88 Pontiac Fiero Formula, and do not really need two.
I even looked at a Saturn Ion Redline. I know, that car is sort of off the beaten path for what is generally seen as a good car to buy. However I have grown fond of the plastic body from my years in Fieros... no dents or dings is great, so is not having any body rust from rustbelt roadsalt. However, the car I drove just didn't seem like it wanted to turn. It really surprised me considering it was Nurburgring tuned, and has generally gotten good reviews for handling. Maybe it was the Quaiffe limited slip diff in the front, but the steering really got heavy and hard to fight in sharp turns. The rest of the car was rather unimpressive, and the loss of the Recaro seats for 2007 (replaced by normal Ion buckets) didn't help any.
I even flirted with the idea of getting a Pontiac G6 hardtop convertable. The retractable hardtop is neat, and it is a nice cruising car. However, after the initial newness wore off, I am fairly certain some heavy buyers remorse would have set in, as the car is just a cruiser. Not particularly sporty beyond it's pointy lines.
So in the end, it brought me back to the WRX. I drove a standard issue one today, and must say that it surprised me at how well the car drove. It's been a while since 2002, so I do not have strong memories of the bugeye I looked at back in the day. However, this car seemed very solid, accelerated very well, handled great, and overall impressed me. The saleswoman took me out for about 20-25 minutes, down some straight and curvy roads. Then took me back to the dealership. When we got there, she told me to go ahead and take the car back out on my own for a hour or so, get a good feel for it. I thought that was great too, since most dealers won't let you really drive it for a while to get a feel.
It was on this drive where I decided it was the car. It is so much more fun to drive than the Mustang or GTO. It doesn't have the raw power of those two, but it sure does take off too. It also takes no time at all to get into boost, even with a normal takeoff from a stop. (I didn't do any high RPM launches... the car was a demo with over 600 miles on it, but I still did not want to beat on the powertrain that bad, after all, someone will end up owning it). It sure handles better, and gives a better feel for what the tires are doing down on the road. It was raining today too, and it still seemed to have endless grip. The shifter did seem to be a bit notchy, but finding the gates was not hard at all and I do not consider that to really be bad.
Long story short, I made the deal. They located an urban grey limited sedan for me, which should be here by the end of the week. I am excited, and cannot wait! It's been a LONG time coming. I am sure I'll have fun!