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Old 07-14-2022, 03:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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List of sporty cheap cars with high mpg?

Im looking for a cheap second car thats fun to drive, and gets really good mpg. By sporty, I mean light weight momentum cars with sporty handling and fun to drive. Examples I know of that come to mind are the first and third generation Toyota MR2, the 90's civic hatchback, MK1 Honda Insight manual, CRX, and the Fiat 500 Abarth.


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Old 07-14-2022, 03:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Not the Miata?
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Old 07-14-2022, 03:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What's the price range and how much utility must it have?

The S2000 had my attention, but I already have a 2-seater called a motorcycle. Was interested in the Acura RSX, but figuring I might have a wife one day and a family, decided coupes are a pain, so I got a TSX. Gotta mention the Miata. Obviously I'm biased toward the Japanese cars.
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Old 07-14-2022, 07:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Obviously I'm biased toward the Japanese cars.
I'm not, but still know Miata is always the answer to anything.
Quote:
https://www.hagerty.com › media › opinion › avoidable-contact-is-miata-the-answer
Miata is always the answer. Except when it's not - Hagerty Media
Miata is always the answer. Except when it's not Jack Baruth 12 February 2019 When it comes to affordable track day cars, everyone knows Miata Is Always the Answer. But what if it isn't? Fans of computer-geek recursive acronyms like GNU (GNU's Not Unix) will appreciate how "Miata is always the answer" becomes MIATA.
For certain values of 'fun to drive'.

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Old 07-15-2022, 06:57 AM   #5 (permalink)
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ND Miata is an extremely compelling car if you fit inside it.
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Old 07-16-2022, 06:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The MR-2 Spyder is definitly fun and you can check mine for its fuel efficiency, but keep in mind it has certain handling characteristics that you realy need to be aware of.
With an empty trunk it is notorious for understeer, you'll end up with squealing tires a lot like that, gently lifting off helps here.
However lifting off causes excessive oversteer in this car, so you need to do all your braking before entering a corner.
Otherwise it starts spinning like a beyblade.
The only way to fix oversteer is to step on the throttle and countersteer.
Meaning if you screw up, you either do a drift or crash.
At the limit you steer it with the throttle alone.

As for practicality, it has a small front trunk and another cargo space behind the seats.
Was sufficient for a week long camping trip with a friend.
Do a test drive though, the drivers seat is not meant for tall drivers.

Generaly I would reccomend to get the hardtop, makes the car more quiet and fuel efficient on the highway.
Downside is they go for like 700-1000€.

Go for a facelift car, the pre-facelift has an issue where the oil controll rings sludge up and it starts buring oil excessively wich causes the pre-cats to vreak down, wich get sucked into the engine and absolutely destroy it.
Or you do what I did and replace the piston rings, drill the pistons and overhaul the cylinder head while you're at it.
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Old 07-16-2022, 09:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The US MR2 Spyder has an extremely short 5th gear (and no 6th) so its gas mileage is actually not very good on the highway. I usually got something like 36mpg.

With a 2ZZ + C60 + slightly taller tire (so about 10% lower revs, and a slightly more efficient engine), I got 42ish cruising which is pretty good IMO. These days it's hard to find a chassis in good shape for a good price, but they're still very fun cars for the money.

Since I'm no longer a penniless college student, I prefer newer cars so I don't need to constantly fix broken bits on them, and the ND Miata is a ridiculously good car even if it's not the most exciting in some ways. I'm just a little too tall for it
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Old 07-16-2022, 07:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You essentially rattled off a list of rapidly appreciating classic cars that you would pay out the nose for and then again in depreciation by using up what survivors remain


Unfortunately you are going to have to get into this millennium to not pay a classic car premium and thus not actually save any money

I am somewhat in the same boat as my Saturn isn't exactly a thrilling drive. I keep looping back around to these as I value some utility

Honda fit w a manual
Pontiac vibe GT

These are still cheap cars if you are patient and buy them right
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Old 07-17-2022, 06:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I had a blast with my G1 Insight. It shares a steering rack with an S2000 and weighs 1000lbs less. With some minor suspension upgrades it can even handle well, and is engaging to drive. I don't think anyone is going to call a FWD hybrid hatch a Sports Car, but with an engine swap that sent it to 60 in around 4 seconds, it could still deliver over 50mpg on a road trip.

Now I have a latest-generation Miata. It handles superbly and gets great fuel economy, though I have a more efficient engine than is available in the US. Expect to get low 40's when driven normally in the right conditions with a US model, and low 30's for a lot of stop and go city driving. The biggest perk with this car, in my opinion, is the soft top. In 2022, the only other non-luxury car you can get with a soft top is a Mustang. The Insight had more communicative steering and a stiffer chassis, and (as I built mine) was both faster and more efficient. If you wanted something made in the last 6 years, however, I don't think anything comes close to meeting your criteria as well as a Miata.

As R. W. Dale suggested, there are a fair few small FWD hatch (or even coupe) options that might suit. I've had nearly 50mpg tanks out of a Fit, and they're fun to drive. A late model manual Civic is pretty entertaining and efficient. Everyone loves the Golf.
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Old 07-17-2022, 11:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.W.Dale View Post
You essentially rattled off a list of rapidly appreciating classic cars that you would pay out the nose for and then again in depreciation by using up what survivors remain
I was thinking the same thing. MR2's have become collectible and collectible prices are well into WITAF territory of late. Patience may be a virtue though as the economy shrinks, because the first collectibles to come back down will be cars like the MR2.

Another car in this class to consider is the Porsche Boxter. I've seen them for as little as $7500. Better be good with a wrench at that price. And TBH I'm not sure if they're actually good on gas. But the fun factor would be enormous.

Quote:
Honda fit w a manual
My 2008 Fit was a full-on hoot to toss around. Lighter wheels are a big help. The other huge help is a front undertray, which will stabilize the car at highway speeds and keep the nose planted during offramp frolics. It's not ever going to be fast but it is frugal and fun. And you can get an amazing amount of stuff inside it too.

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