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Small used hatchback: Versa vs Golf vs Mazda 3 vs ...


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#1 Andre S.

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 22:19

Hi all,

Having finished my degree in Software Engineering and starting my new job at the end of January, I need a car. I'm looking to spend at most 15000$, but of course less is better. I'm of course only looking at used cars atm.

I don't have many requirements for the car other than it has to be a small automatic hatchback with good mileage. Options I'd like are air conditioning, ABS brakes, Cruise Control, foldable rear seat. So far I was looking at the Nissan Versa, the Volkswagen Golf City and the Mazda 3 GS/GT. Is there any obviously best choice between the three? I can get a newer Versa with a better warranty for the same price as a Mazda 3 or Golf City, so that's something to keep in mind.

Also, what should I be looking for in terms of kilometers? Cars around 8000-10000$ are typically ~2008 with ~75000km, can that still be reliable?

Here are some concrete examples of what I'm currently looking at:

Nissan Versa 2012, 13200$, 16000km, White, still under full warranty until May 15th 2015 or 60000km
http://www.autoaubai...a-c5448319.html

Volkswagen Golf City 2.0 2008, 10000$, 75000km, silver, "Warranty Volks certified pure" (whatever that means) 2 years or 40000km
http://www.vwprestig...php?id=15818098

Mazda 3 GS Sport 2009, 11600$, 51000km, Dark Grey, Warranty 3 months of 5000km
http://metromazda.ca....spy?id=4679550

Thanks for the tips.


#2 shoemakerpom2010

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 22:30

I have a Mazda Protégé 5 which was Mazda's start of the whole little hatchback craze. It's a 2002 first one that came out and the only problem I had major were the following: 2 struts at 50,000 miles, seatbelt clickin 80,000 miles and radio die at 120,000 miles. That's pretty good since it drives great and is still fun to drive. I will say that out of your 3 cars the Volkswagen will be more comfortable to drive and built the best but cost double to fix.

#3 Brandon

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 22:32

Pretty sure the Mazda is the largest of them

#4 Spartan Erik

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 22:39

Not sure if you'd be interested or not, but the Kia Soul would also be a hatch worth considering, especially if you're tall like me (6'2"). 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty, plus 5 year/60,000 mile 24/7 roadside assistance. I believe the warranty drops down to half if you're buying used, though don't take my word for it.

Between the 3, I would go with the Mazda. The Versa has mediocre safety ratings, which may increase your insurance rate depending on your age. The Golf, like other VWs, have pretty poor reliability (2-2.5 stars/5 from JD Power, depending on the year).

#5 OP Andre S.

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 22:43

Thanks for mentionning Kia, I had completely forgot about them. What about the Rio 5?

#6 KingCracker

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 23:03

Out of those choices i'd stay away from the Versa as its the most basic of those cars, it doesn't get many good reviews either. Why not look at a Chevy sonic, I love it it has the most HP out of the gas saver hatch backs.
Here's mine. They come with touch screen radios and usb and aux inputs and bluetooth.

Posted Image
Posted Image

Brand new sonics are like 16 to 18 thousand new.

#7 *RedBull*

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 00:33

Highly suggest getting as new a vehicle as possible. If you can get new one better for you. I've done the used car thing to death. I finally bought a new car and will not buy a used one unless I have no other choice. Seriously look around for what end of year deals you can get. That's what I did. My Rav4 was 19K OTD. A used one just 3 yrs old was 17K...Hell no, I got the end of the year deal. Been so happy since.

#8 +zhiVago

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 17:41

Having finished my degree in Software Engineering and starting my new job at the end of January


Congratulations!

I need a car


Check these out:

The first one isn't a hatch, but she's a beauty: 2006 Audi A4 2.0TFSI Quattro Tiptronic I'd say she'd give you the most bang for the buck as far as the options go because she's got a 4x4, the electric leather seats, and the moon-roof for starters!

The second option is to find an Audi A3 Sportback. Presently, there's only one listing under 15K on autotrader.ca in Quebec, but the car comes with a manual tranny. So, I've looked for a A3 with an automatic in Ontario and just one showed up! Her sweet price should make up for the travelling costs!

#9 OP Andre S.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 00:19

@Kingcracker I'm afraid the Chevrolet Sonic is above my budget. The cheapest automatic hatchback I could find was 16500$. It's such a recent model that there aren't many used ones at all.

@Redbull I can't buy new and wouldn't anyway, for financial reasons. I haven't even started working yet and a car is just the first item on the list of expensive things I'll need to buy in the next couple of years.

@Zhivago I actually live in Quebec (Montreal), so while a trip to Ontario isn't unthinkable, I'd rather buy somewhere around where I live. Also, if I was going to spend in the upper range of my budget, I'd get something almost new with its full warranty still largely available. For a 2006 model with significant mileage, I wouldn't spend more than, say, 9000$.

I've pretty much settled on a sub-10000$ Versa, and there are literally hundreds of them selling everywhere, it's hard to pinpoint any particular one. The one I'm eyeing most atm is a 9987$ grey SL 2009 with all the options, cruise control, deluxe audio system, abs brakes (rare on older Versas), etc, but there are dozens others.

#10 Spartan Erik

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 00:40

Just wanted to let you know, I was able to get a new 2013 Kia Soul, base model with 6 speed auto, Bluetooth streaming & calling, and cruise control for $14,900 here in Houston, TX.

Not sure what Canadian prices are, but the price I paid is $1300 below MSRP.

PROTIP:
Many automakers offer military discounts if you're a veteran, or a son/daughter/spouse of a veteran. My father was a vet, so he was able to get me a $500 rebate using his DD-214 papers.
Also, Kia specifically, is currently offering $750 to recent college graduates. You should also find out about any similar offers like this with other automakers!

#11 *RedBull*

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:44

@Redbull I can't buy new and wouldn't anyway, for financial reasons. I haven't even started working yet and a car is just the first item on the list of expensive things I'll need to buy in the next couple of years.

I've pretty much settled on a sub-10000$ Versa, and there are literally hundreds of them selling everywhere, it's hard to pinpoint any particular one. The one I'm eyeing most atm is a 9987$ grey SL 2009 with all the options, cruise control, deluxe audio system, abs brakes (rare on older Versas), etc, but there are dozens others.


Hey Dr.asik, hope things work out for you. I was just sharing my experience is all. I'm sure the Versa will work just fine.

#12 +chconline

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:52

I'll tell you what car NOT to buy: The Versa.

Also, I've driven the Kia Rio5 back in the days. Worst car ever. I'd rather take the bus than to drive that horrible piece of crap. As far as most Korean cars are concerned, 99% of the fanboys will tell you about how amazing their warranty is, how their specs are 10x better than any other brand for the price, etc. but at the end of the day, their cars have terrible engines and transmissions that underperform miserably (In power and in fuel economy) Yes, they are better than they were 10 years ago, but it is nowhere near its Japanese or European competitors. My recommendation is go test drive the cars first hand and ignore the reviews you read in mags and rags. I kept an open mind and test drove many Hyundais and Kias made in the last 5 years (I test drive cars for fun in my free time lol) and I'm still not convinced at all to buy one. I have taken out the Sonata, Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Kia Rio, etc etc and none of them are any good imo.

The Golf is an excellent driver's car and so is the Mazda3. The Mazda isn't as good on FE and the Golf isn't perfect in reliability, but if I were to choose, the Mazda3 is an excellent choice.

#13 Gerowen

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:13

Since everybody seems to be throwing around suggestions, I highly recommend early 2000s at the latest. Newer cars are too dependent on their computers in my opinion. They've gone beyond just putting computerized sensors and fuel injectors and have actually started replacing mechanical parts with computer chips, and it causes problems. The Toyotas that would randomly take off, my own 2006 Ford Explorer that tried to take off by itself because of the computerized gas pedal, it's just not worth chancing it in my opinion. Head out into the boondocks and find some guy (Craigslist might be a good place to look) who has rebuilt his late 90s model car and wants to get rid of it for $1,500-$3,000. It might have over a hundred thousand miles on it, but you won't have to worry as much about your computer going haywire and you won't have to go incredibly deep in debt until you get established in a good paying position.

#14 +chconline

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:44

Since everybody seems to be throwing around suggestions, I highly recommend early 2000s at the latest. Newer cars are too dependent on their computers in my opinion. They've gone beyond just putting computerized sensors and fuel injectors and have actually started replacing mechanical parts with computer chips, and it causes problems. The Toyotas that would randomly take off, my own 2006 Ford Explorer that tried to take off by itself because of the computerized gas pedal, it's just not worth chancing it in my opinion. Head out into the boondocks and find some guy (Craigslist might be a good place to look) who has rebuilt his late 90s model car and wants to get rid of it for $1,500-$3,000. It might have over a hundred thousand miles on it, but you won't have to worry as much about your computer going haywire and you won't have to go incredibly deep in debt until you get established in a good paying position.


Computers are more reliable than a mechanical system in that particular case. All drive by wire systems are run by multiple redundant control systems (Usually about four) that will keep each other in check. In the unlikely event that one becomes unstable, the remaining ones will vote the one out of the system and override its signals. And of course these systems are designed to be inherently stable (Ie., BIBO) and is not likely to go nuts unless something is physically shorted. It is much more reliable than having one mechanical cable to the throttle body lol.

There is no evidence that Toyota cars had unintended acceleration problems due to the control systems (including your Ford Explorer) other than misapplication of the gas pedal. If electronic control systems is such a big problem, we will have planes falling out of the sky on a daily basis, and cars running into trees hourly. The fact is, it has not, because electronics are better. This is not your regular cell phone or desktop PC with a single point of failure.

(Btw, I'm an electrical engineer. Control systems is not my specialty but I've studied quite a bit on it.)

#15 OP Andre S.

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 04:58

I'll tell you what car NOT to buy: The Versa.

Also, I've driven the Kia Rio5 back in the days. Worst car ever. I'd rather take the bus than to drive that horrible piece of crap. As far as most Korean cars are concerned, 99% of the fanboys will tell you about how amazing their warranty is, how their specs are 10x better than any other brand for the price, etc. but at the end of the day, their cars have terrible engines and transmissions that underperform miserably (In power and in fuel economy) Yes, they are better than they were 10 years ago, but it is nowhere near its Japanese or European competitors. My recommendation is go test drive the cars first hand and ignore the reviews you read in mags and rags. I kept an open mind and test drove many Hyundais and Kias made in the last 5 years (I test drive cars for fun in my free time lol) and I'm still not convinced at all to buy one. I have taken out the Sonata, Elantra, Genesis Coupe, Kia Rio, etc etc and none of them are any good imo.

The Golf is an excellent driver's car and so is the Mazda3. The Mazda isn't as good on FE and the Golf isn't perfect in reliability, but if I were to choose, the Mazda3 is an excellent choice.

Going out for test drives is on my to-do list :)

I'm definitely looking at the Mazda 3, which is certainly more fun to drive and looks a lot better than the Versa, however it's not exactly in the same price range. For the price of a 2009 Mazda 3 with 60000km and only the engine warranty left, I can have a 2012 Versa with < 20000km and its full original warranty until 2015. Also I like the Versa for the spacious cabin, especially the leg and head room on the back seat. All the other subcompacts seem quite cramped in comparison; even the Mazda3 which is a compact doesn't match. As I often go out with friends for skiing, hiking etc., a comfortable back seat is a big plus. As for fuel efficiency, the Versa does between decently to extremely well in every test I've seen, and while it's probably not very powerful or fun to drive, that's not my main criterion at the moment. This car will spend most of its time in slow-moving rush hour traffic, so I'm not too concerned about its performance characteristics.