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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I have been giving serious thought to buying a new car, but I'm struggling a bit as to which would best suit my/our family's needs.

Our budget is $30K and here are the requirements:

-fun (nimble), very sporty (quick with good handling) to drive

-not a ton of miles (30k miles would be the max and then it had better be amazing)

-must seat 4 (we have a child and sometimes her friend may join us)

-Good reliability (we own a BMW 330xi, which has had a few issues, although nothing like the POS VWs we owned.)

Sophisticated (I had a Mini Cooper S that my wife found too harsh and abrupt to drive.)

Oh, and I'm not a modder.

Thanks!
 

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The Fruit
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Personally with those requirements I'd go and test drive a legacy. The wrx is a really fun car but lately they've been tough to find since the sunami's and the legacy in sporty trim is a pretty sweet car with a lot of room for passengers n goodies.

I dont see awd as a requirement listed though, there are an abundance of cars for or under 30K (new) that have some really great features/driving feel. I've heard really good things about the new upper scale Hyundai offerings and as of recent years they've really stepped up their game in the quality department.
 

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Cheeky Bastage!
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New: I would go with WRX Premium, Audi A3, BMW 1-series, Volvo C30
(I dont know much about the latter 3, just cars I would look at if I were in your place)

Used: too much to choose from lol
 

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I assume you are looking for advice on Subarus since you are posted on a Subaru forum.

With those requirements I would personally go with a Forester XT or a WRX Premium/base
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the suggestions so far! To clarify, I'm willing to go used or new, and I am a member on this forum, but I'm not specifically looking for a Subaru. If a Subaru fits the bill, great, but it is not a focus.

Here are the cars I have driven/considering:

Subaru WRX Wagon -Limited (Fun car to drive, the Premium is lacking in some of the options, feels a bit tinny to me-keep in mind we own an Outback XT wagon that doesn't feel as tinny) I can get this right at $30k.

Subaru WRX STi Sedan- you know, aside from the handling, which was a bit better/more aggressive, I didn't notice a ton of difference between the WRX and the STi. Heresy?

BMW 135i- absolutely the best car I have driven in the past 10 years. (Includes my father-in-law's 911.) The car flies, handles like a dream, etc... Unfortunately since 2007 BMW's have had a huge issue with their fuel pumps. BMW is covering them until 120k, but the pump can fail and the car will simply stop running, leaving you stuck on the freeway, highway, some back alley, etc... Some people have had FIVE fuel pumps replaced in 20k miles. When I asked about the car on several BMW forums I was overwhelming told to avoid the car- and this was by BMW owners. Uh..no thanks.

BMW 335i- same as above

BMW 328i- Found this VERY pedestrian to drive. Not a lot of get-up-and-go, not very nimble. Very easy car to drive with tons of amenities, but nothing fun about it.

BMW 328xi- same as above but slower!

Mazda Speed 3- Hello torque steer! Not a bad car actually, but definitely tinny feeling and very unrefined. The turbo lag was wicked, but when it kicked in, it felt like warp drive. If I was about 10 years younger and had more limited resources, I'd look closely at it.

Mustang- lots o' power, but unrefined and basically not a functional backseat. I will say, this was much more fun to drive than I was expecting.

Volvo 60 (I passed on the 30 because the 60, which is supposed to be sportier, did nothing for me) Nice car, smooth ride, boring to drive. Not a ton of driver feedback, which surprised me. Not nearly as sporty as most of the other cars I test drove.
 

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You are in the same boat I was, I chose the 2011 WRX Limited obviously. My concerns with the car are, the clutch, the tinny part you mention, and the exposed painted lower side of panels(I like the 3" black plastic all the way around the lower parts of my MINI - easy to replace and resist scratches/chips). My last car was a MINI Cooper S, which may be harsh, but lots of fun and the paint/chassis/transmission/engine combo is spot on. But a bear to drive in the winter, and the harshness will get to you in the winter also. I would have went with a 2011 BMW 135i if it was the same price, but thats not the case, I think for the money that I got the best option.
 

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Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Admin
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For me? This, but with a manual transmission:

Cars for Sale: 2001 Porsche 911 Carrera in HUDSON, NC 28638: Coupe Details - 302720419 - AutoTrader.com

But then, I'm odd, and have an unhealthy fixation on Porsches.
For you..among the cars that you're looking at, the Bimmers below the X35 level have not been exciting (to me) when I've driven them, the Mustang is too "large-feeling" for my tastes, (and I'm not really into the interior), and I don't know much about the Volvo. If the 135/335 are rated as unreliable, and that's an important criteria for you, then obviously steer clear.

That leaves the Volvo and the Subies. I suspect that the 3 cars (WRX, STI, and 60) will feel quite different in a test drive, so see what matches your tastes. (sporty enough, comfortable for DD, livable interior, driving feel, etc.)

Good luck! :)
 

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the Mustang is too "large-feeling" for my tastes
That was the main reason I took it off my list, and the cost with options was way too high. The 1 inch of leg clearance for the backseat passengers didn't help things either....lol
 
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