Let’s put our special hats on – y’know, the ones with the ostrich feathers and Swarovksi sparkles all dipped in yellow gold – and play “what if”.
Car enthusiasts play this game with alarming frequency, but rarely in public. The internal machinations usually happen in the wee hours of a weekend evening, on eBay and Kijiji and after a half-glass of scotch, as we rationalize, justify, and otherwise attempt to coerce ourselves and our significant others into successively wilder purchases. But cower in darkness no more! For it’s high time that we openly share our most bizarre (and reasonable) replacements for our current transports! Ok, as you’ve probably gleaned from the title, our imaginations haven’t led us too far astray, but that’s because these are cars we’d actually buy, not just ones we’d plunk down for if we accidentally inherited the Daryl Katz fortune. And it’s not like we’re in brow-furrowing contemplation between the Corolla and the Matrix here, the 500 and CR-Z are genuinely appealing cars, at least for hatchback-loving urbanites like us.
Regardless of budget (and in fantasyland, the budgets can get pretty wacky), we all have priorities that lean us one way or another, as well as allegiances to certain brands that inadvertently blind us to huge swathes of the marketplace. Personally, we’re proponents of buying used cars so that the most aggressive years of depreciation are allowed to pass harmlessly by. That new car smell? Doesn’t smell as good as saved money smell. Since we’re looking at the used market, it’s also worth mentioning that we’re staunch advocates of mechanical and electrical reliability. No one likes unnecessary trips to the
stealer dealer less than we do, so we avoid it at all costs. As such, we personally like to steer away from German cars (an air-cooled 911 is the only car with any chance of breaking that rule of thumb), most American cars, and steer towards Japanese cars. Granted, the newer domestics, particularly Fords, have come a long way in terms of quality and reliability, but none of their current offering quite have the sparkle we’d put in our garage for good. Maybe the Focus ST will change that. The Germans, on the other hand, have almost no hope of changing our perceptions at this point. There is literally nothing scarier than a 5-year-old BMW without warranty.
Since there’s not much out there in the desirable 4-5 year old bracket (unless you’ve got one?) that meets our exacting criteria for fun, reliability, fuel economy, and attractive design, we’re going to have to make do with looking a few years down the road to replace our aging Mazda Protege5. So let’s take a look at what’s on sale today that we’ll want to pick up a good deal on in a couple years.
This series of hurdles pretty much leaves us with the Fiat 500, the adorable Mexican-built city car with character in picche (that’s “spades” in Italian), and the Honda CR-Z, the sportiest hybrid around. Both of these choices are perfectly sized for urban use, fun(ish) to drive, sip fuel like a Starbucks latte, and should prove more reliable than average. But which one should we choose?+Continue Reading