Hooniverse Asks- What Other Car Could be. . . er 'Cheaper'?

Volkswagen introduced a new Jetta in the U.S. last year. The previous generation of VW’s small sedan had been engineered and positioned to be a next rung down option for those considering a BMW 3-Series, but without the means to afford one. Then somebody at Volkswagen must have taken a look at BMW’s annual sales, and realized that seeking aspirants to the brand might not be a winning strategy. That’s why, while the new, 2012 Jetta is larger than the outgoing model, it’s significantly decontented, and even more significantly, bucks cheaper. 
Introducing a new model that seems an evolutionary two-step backwards never plays well with with the pundits, and sure enough the new Jetta has been panned for its return to beam axle, drum rear brakes, and an interior that has more hard plastic than an Am-Ex counterfeiting ring. Despite venerated publications like Car and Driver and Consumer Reports giving the repositioned Jetta a collective Eww, VW can’t seem to build enough of them.
What do Jetta buyers consider acceptable in the car that the ‘professionals’ did not? Who cares? What’s more important a question is what other cars have been placed out of our reach financially due a misguided effort to make them good? A Boxster with vinyl upholstery and steel wheels? Maybe. How about some plastic wood in that Bentley? Okay, that’s taking it a little too far. Still they used to make strippers, cars with just the parts people wanted – say a honkin’ big motor and a window to whistle at the girls through. Maybe that should make a come-back? and if so, what car would you cheapinate?

Image source: [egmcartech.com]

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103 responses to “Hooniverse Asks- What Other Car Could be. . . er 'Cheaper'?”

  1. TX_Stig Avatar

    What cars to strip down? That's an easy one. Almost any of them. Quit packaging the desirable engines with all the primo options. For instance, Honda Accord with a V6 and manual. Not the most hoonworthy car out there, but for general daily use, its powerful, quick and handles pretty well. But you have to get up into the more expensive, leather clad, all the goodies versions to get the better engine and transmission. Just give me power windows and locks, and the big engine with a manual gearbox.
    Of course, the most obvious answer is cars like the luxury cars that follow the good sized engine, RWD formula. Stop putting all those options in. Just give me a well engineered, basic car with good chassis dynamics. Please?

  2. Alff Avatar

    Cycle fenders? Carbon fiber panels? FOUR headlights? Totally unnecessary.
    <img src="http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/jalopnik/2009/06/ariel_atom_500_jalopnik-topshot.jpg"width=500&gt;
    bandwidth happily borrowed from Gawker.

    1. SSurfer321 Avatar

      thumbs up just for stealing borrowing Gawker bandwith

    2. Thrashy Avatar

      It's not like they're using it for anything useful, anyhow.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    The decontented/stripper model still exists, it is just a full size truck now. You can get a Chevy Silverado WT with choice of V-6 , 302HP V-8 or 315HP V-8, black seats (choice of cloth or vinyl), wind up windows, manual locks, and vinyl floors. A/C and an automatic transmission are standard. These start at about $20k for a regular cab and $25k for an extended cab (V-6 models), rebates and discounts will usually bring that down a few thousand dollars. A couple of months ago it was possible to get a 6 passenger RWD vehicle for less than $20k.

  4. B72 Avatar

    Sorry to take things off topic, but I have an urgent need to consult the Hoon mind!
    I took my 2008 Forester XT to the dealership yesterday with the check engine light on. At this point the only thing still under warranty is the emissions system. They tell me what is wrong is a failed right secondary air injection valve, and it's not covered. Since when is an air injection valve not emissions? Any thoughts on how hard to fight this and how to go about it?

    1. Alff Avatar

      Is there a TSB on this? Have you checked the Subie boards to see if this is a common issue? If this is a common problem, you may have better luck appealing the dealer's position to Subaru corporate.

    2. OA5599 Avatar

      Look at the actual written warranty. I would imagine it would contain guidelines of what specific components and systems are included or excluded.

    3. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
      mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      That's terrible, read the warranty, should be a separate booklet near your owner's manual. It might be the sort that lists everything covered or lists things excluded. Also there will be a section with modifications for your state. Then if you still think you are covered, go to a different dealership, you do not want to deal with those any more, they might come back and say something else is wrong.
      Now if it's anything like a Volvo smog pump, it does not really do much for emissions when everything warms-up and when you get it installed, you should drill a hole into the housing for water to leak-out. There is a reed valve that should be replaced at the same time, again little things like this are why I would not trust that first service dept anymore.

    4. skitter Avatar

      And, sorry to be a devil's advocate, make sure the money you save is actually worth the trouble.

      1. B72 Avatar

        Amen. They are going to put up with $900 worth of bitching from me unless they cave early.

        1. dukeisduke Avatar

          As far as I'm concerned, that's an emissions part, and is covered under the 100k emissions control parts warranty. First, try another Subaru dealer (assuming it's not a zillion miles away).

    5. ErikT Avatar

      the EPA Federal emissions warranty (8 years, 80K miles) covers MAJOR emissions componenets http://www.epa.gov/oms/consumer/warr95fs.txt
      That includes: Catalytic converters, ECU, and OBD related components. I don't see anything about air injection valves listed as major componenets. Read for yourself. The catalytic coverter on my 9-2x (same as impreza) went at 77K miles and was covered.

      1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        Thanks for that document, the smog pump and reed valve are in the 2yr portion, likely will not be covered under subaru warranty then 🙁
        Air Injection System
        Air pump diverter, bypass, or gulp valve
        reed valve anti-backfire or deceleration valve

      2. B72 Avatar

        Thanks. I saw something similar. Upon realizing my indignance was no longer righteous, I accepted the partial "customer satisfaction" reimbursement they offered.
        So in all, a positive outcome and I can't fault the way Subaru handled it, although I do wish it hadn't broken in the first place.

  5. 2stroke4life Avatar

    Subaru variant of the Toyota FT-86. Naturally, a US-market Subaru will be pretty well-equipped even if it's a base model, so stripping it down to no power brakes or steering, manual transmission, no bells and whistles except for a basic AM/FM/CD head unit with a basic speaker system (gotta have some way to rock out, even my Goggomobil has a stereo, and it's V-E-R-Y basic otherwise), Recaro seats up front and no back seat to satisfy the hoons, and vinyl floorcovering with detachable carpet mats.
    Basically a modern-day MGB-GT, Sonett or GT6.
    -Darnell's Auto Wrecking from Jalopnik

  6. Maxichamp Avatar

    My neighbor just got a new barebones Jetta. I don't know if it's the paint or bodywork, but the exterior looks as cheap as a 2002 Chevy Cavalier rental car.

  7. P161911 Avatar

    Not every car needs to have a leather wrapped steering wheel and leather seats or power windows and locks for that matter. The problem comes in when luxury features are added to lower end models they usually end up using inferior materials. So in 10 years your leather wrapped steering wheel looks as old and wrinkled as great grandma and the cheap leather on the seats has worn through. It seems that sometimes a better quality cloth or heaven forbid vinyl could have been had for less than the cheap leather and would have lasted twice as long. It was common until the late 1980s for Mercedes and BMWs to come with high quality vinyl seats that would last forever.
    My 2011 Silverado might have acres of cheap looking plastic, but it looks like it will last longer than some of the cheap "soft touch" plastics or the painted or cheap chrome coated plastics.

    1. LTDScott Avatar

      *Looks at slowly disintegrating plastic bits on my SVT Focus*
      Yeah, you're right.

    2. Thrashy Avatar

      Stuff like that is why I like the approach Honda took with the Element — use cheap, durable materials, and be proud about it!
      Apparently everybody would rather have micron-thick leather interiors, or they'd still be selling the things.

    3. Alff Avatar

      Unfortunately for lovers of manual locks and windows (perhaps a group consisting only of me), the cost savings of standardization has largely eliminated their availability.
      I also agree that not every car needs a leather wrapped steering wheel. Many more should have one made of varnished walnut.

  8. skitter Avatar

    Obligatory: I want a small, RWD 6MT diesel wagon, preferably an Alpina D3.
    And now I want it with cloth seats.

  9. FЯeeMan Avatar

    How 'bout just going back to a-la-carte ordering? Instead of forcing me into packages, let me choose which options. Big stonkin' engine, manual, vinyl seats & a premium sound system? Done! Tiny engine, auto & every electronic gadget you've got? Done!
    'Course, I guess it's not as financially viable for the manufacturers that way, but all the big OTR semi manufacturers seem to make a living at it.

  10. LTDScott Avatar

    Not really an answer to the question, but a friend of mine is a big VW fan, and when the new Jetta was announced he said something along the lines of "Solid rear axle, drum brakes and the 2.0 – VW is partying like it's 1993!"

  11. muthalovin Avatar

    How about a smaller, cheaper F150. Maybe with an EcoBoost 4? And a stick? Oh, you're probably right, no one in the states would want one.

  12. SSurfer321 Avatar

    All pony cars should come with a stripper package.

    1. skitter Avatar

      Paging Skaycog to the white courtesy phone please…

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        Hello! Hello! Can you hear me now?
        You are too funny!

      1. Alff Avatar

        Somehow I expected Skaycog to be … taller.

        1. $kaycog Avatar

          5' 3" upside down.

          1. Deartháir Avatar

            I'm clearly missing an inside joke here… and I'm rather disappointed about it.

          2. $kaycog Avatar

            Believe me……you don't want to know.
            And a good morning to you!

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      I'll take a Latina stripper, please. Maybe Fernanda Romero?

      1. mr. mzs zsm msz esq Avatar
        mr. mzs zsm msz esq

        The most expensive beer I ever had involved a Mexican stripper. I now look after my health better, better at least than my other friends who were present that night. I'd hate for them to outlive me and tell the story at my funeral.

    3. P161911 Avatar

      Just look up Pink Pony in Atlanta. I'm at work right now so I won't.

  13. M600 Avatar

    Personally I welcome the simpler, decontented Jetta. VW's moves upmarket in the late 90s meant their cars became unattainably expensive and totally unreliable. When built with less goo-gaws VW's can actually be decent cars for regular people. I know my 90 Jetta was agricultural but it was also indestructible.

  14. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Remember Ford's old line of "Pony" strippers? What we need is a 2011 Mustang Pony: 240 HP EcoBoost four mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox and live rear axle. Keep the GT spring rates but no stripes, two-tone paint, or driving lights in the grille. No convertible option. No ingress lights, power mirrors, power seats, rumble chamber, Sync or trip computer. Oh, and no gaudy chrome rims — just go with the gloss black steelies from the SHO Police concept.
    Price it at $18999 and you'll sell a million of 'em.

  15. Black Steelies Avatar

    Caterham. Almost $30k for the whole shebang, and they let you put it together. It's still cheap considering the performance but it's hard to fathom paying that much for what is such a minimal car, let alone one that hasn't changed much over 30 years.
    <img src="http://peterthomas.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/caterham-kit.jpg?w=400&h=276"&gt;

    1. joshuman Avatar

      I'm going to take us on a short tangent.
      <img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/twitpic/photos/large/285817553.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJF3XCCKACR3QDMOA&Expires=1303924000&Signature=dMok77goapc8KhuVMjNJ5gu1Qr0%3D"&gt;
      Thanks to Karun Chandhok's Twitter post for the image.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        This is on the Caterham homepage too. Now THAT I could spend $30k on.

  16. Black Steelies Avatar

    True true, plus the whole overseas import thing. We just need to convince America this is way better than any crossover that has been, ahem, ever will be, conceived. Ditch the CR-V pick up a CSR.

  17. engineerd Avatar

    The Border Patrol needed a cheaperer version. Not necessarily because the MSRP is too high, but because they are not allowed to order leather seats.
    <img width=500 src="http://www.beyond.ca/i/ford-raptor.jpg"&gt;

    1. muthalovin Avatar

      I was going to comment about how they don't really need bright colors, but, instead, I support the use of Molten Orange for border patrolling purposes.

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      Here's one:
      <img src="IMAGE URL" width="600">
      <img src="http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/wp-content/uploads//2010/11/Border-Patrol-Raptor1.jpg"&gt;
      Hat-tip to autoguide.com

      1. coupeZ600 Avatar

        Notice how they each say, "Supervisor"…..

        1. FЯeeMan Avatar

          All play and no work for these trucks!

  18. P161911 Avatar

    BMW needs to get the 1 series down below $25k MSRP. I just checked, you can actually get "letherette" seats. But you still get power windows, locks, nice radio, and some electronic gadgets that might could be stripped. Just get the weight below about 2800 lbs.
    Back in 1987 BMW sold 4 different versions of the basic E30 3 series. The 4 cylinder 318i, next up was the 325 (eta motor with very few options), 325e (eta motor, more options), and the 325i (i motor more options).

    1. Maymar Avatar

      I've said it before, but I'd get a perverse delight in going in to a BMW dealer and paying cash for the most basic 3-series I could order (just for the look on the salesguy's face, that I didn't want the auto, or the X-drive, or the leather, or to lease it).

    2. Duurtlang Avatar

      So, basically, you want the European lineup. The 1 series is available here with 10 different engines, 2 transmissions per engine, usually multiple trim levels per engine/trans combo and 4 different body styles (including 2 hatchbacks). The same is true for the 3-series, except for the availability of even more engines (12 to be exact) and optional AWD on some of those engines. Yes, all for the current model year.

  19. Dutch Avatar

    They already did that with the Drag Pak Challenger, and it costs around $80,000.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      And Dodge TELLS you that you are allowed to buy it… if you don't act, they move to the next person on the list.

  20. buzzboy7 Avatar

    I do love strippers…um lower cost vehicles. We have a 93 toyota with 0 options. There are so many blanked out panels on the dash.
    The way the story goes my mom went to the dealer with the newspaper ad that said "From $xxx" and said, "I want that one". Truck is still running strong with 110k on the clock.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      I bought a '92 Toyota 2WD standard cab, NEARLY stripped…it had TWO options. They advertised one with no options for $7995, so I went to look at it. While I was in the cubie filling out my credit app, some other guy bought it. They had one almost like it, but with the cloth bench seat and the Cold Weather Group. To their credit, they let me have it for the same price, which I was most pleased about.

  21. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

    Jeep wrangler. Seriously starting at 25k for a washtub with a minivan engine?

    1. Maymar Avatar

      We've been pretty fortunate in Canada that the Wrangler is pretty well incentivized – it looks like a base model runs about $18,500 up here with rebates.

      1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

        And you get the Diesel. You bastards.

        1. Maymar Avatar

          Nope, sadly we've only got the 3.8 also. It would've made my time as a Chrysler product ambassador much more pleasant if we did (since that seems to be just about the only thing auto show patrons care about).

          1. JeepyJayhawk Avatar

            Stupid magazines lying to me.

          2. Deartháir Avatar

            Diesel is in the OTHER Jeeps. You know, the ones people DON'T want.

  22. tonyola Avatar

    The handful of people who comment here are not at all representative of the cur buying public, especially in the eyes of the manufacturers. The prevalence of leasing means that the used car market is chock full of decently-maintained and equipped used cars between two and three years of age, and many people would rather pick up one of those than a brand-new stripped-out car. Look what happened when BMW tried to sell the hatchback "cheapo" 318 in the '90s. It flopped miserably in the US because people found out they could buy a lightly-used "real" 3-series for less. Same is true for the small hatchback Mercedes.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      In some cases it really comes down to the particular vehicle and depreciation rates. I have always preached buying a nice used car over a new one. However, when it came time for me to get a family vehicle, I choose a full size extended cab truck. Nicely equipped 3-5 year old models were selling for $18k with 50-75k miles. I got a brand new stripped Silverado WT for right about $20k with a 3 yr./36k miles bumper to bumper warranty, a 10 yr./100k powertrain warranty and <50 miles on the odometer. In this case the warranty and the lower miles were definitely worth the extra $2k-$3k. This was also influenced about being rather bitter about a used BMW that needed a new engine 400 miles after purchase and a new head another 2 years and close to $5k in repairs on a $7k-10k vehicle later.

  23. facelvega Avatar

    What makes this car make sense as a US-market gesture is the Golf, Jetta Wagon, and GTI/GLI. They have enthusiasts and other snobs covered up and down the line of performance, space, diesels, and Europeanness. The American mass market on the other hand likes the sound of a "fancy" European car, but want it to be a cheap sedan with a big rear seat. Basically, VW is sacrificing the reputation built by other models to sell a load of junky, practical Jettas to the parents of recent high school graduates and to people who work at malls.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      Also, everybody, strippers aren't the question here. Let me yell in caps: THE JETTA DIDN'T GET STRIPPED DOWN, IT GOT REPLACED BY A CHEAPER CAR. For comparison, would you want the Challenger SRT-8 you can't afford replaced by a "challenger" version of the Avenger? It would be cheaper, and get a big back seat. What we're talking is torsion beams, drum brakes, cheaper metal in the platform, crappy interiors, and engines that make you wish you'd taken the bus. Can small, cheap cars be done brilliantly? Yes, but the market doesn't care if they are or not.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        We're multi-tasking as usual. 1. New "old school" Jetta discussion. 2.What cars would you like to see cheaper with fewer features?

        1. facelvega Avatar

          Yeah, of course I see what you mean, but for once I'm worried the multitasking is distracting us more than opening interesting angles. I think the trend and maybe danger represented by the Jetta is something we can skip over if we just think about what expensive cars we'd like to see available with only the good bits and not the fat. Which isn't to say I wouldn't like a new focus hatch without about 200 pounds fewer "features" for fifteen grand.

      2. TX_Stig Avatar

        I certainly have to agree with you. However, even though it was not made adequately clear, I think that the public will simply see this as the stripping down of an existing model. The majority of the buying public won't be aware that this car doesn't really exist elsewhere in the world. That this is an essentially North American only model. If they package cheaper materials around good mechanicals, then there is no problem. I drive a 98 Jetta. It has drum brakes. It has a torsion beam rear axle. What of it? It's a good car.
        Another interesting, is slightly tangential, issue is brand perception. Remember the VW Phaeton? On paper, it was a genuine rival to it's price point brethren. But people would take offense to the idea of a 60k VW. But its not a tarted up Passat, its a unique platform.
        So I suppose, at the end of the day, it boils down to what the market thinks it wants. The American economy car market wants a car like this. Well equipped, cheaply built. That way they feel all nice and fancy while their car falls apart around them. As long as there are many cupholders, power accessories, and a good stereo, that's all that matters.

        1. facelvega Avatar

          You bring up an interesting failure here with the example of the Phaeton. Obviously it was meant to augment the brand image and not to make money in itself, but I get the feeling it failed even at that. The image did go up, but my impression was that it was mostly people lusting after Touaregs reinforced by the business-suit look of the last Passat that did the trick.
          The danger in reaping profits with the new Jetta is that it may have a long-term negative effect on brand perception, the danger BMW dodges for instance by not letting us have any of its small and efficient engine options, which are the only ones people in Europe actually order.
          But as you say there is no question that the new Jetta is a way better and smarter attack on the American mass market than the old one. The big problem here is that the average selling price for any car is much higher in Europe than it is here, and the market here won't bear it. For the hell of it I just configured a bare-bones GTI on the VW website here and in England. With delivery ours has an MSRP of $24,465. The Brit one with the same wheels comes in at 25,525 pounds, which works out to over $42,000. This is the math that really created the new Jetta.

          1. TX_Stig Avatar

            That's a very good way to put it. If in the long term the new Jetta does not hold up well at all it will do no favors for VW's already spotty reputation here. They are already the butt of many jokes regarding the numerous electrical issues that were seen in the MK4's. This newer, cheaper model makes me fear for their future here.
            And about the selling prices of cars here vs. Europe, you are absolutely right. Even though they make far more money than we do, and spend more, so that it is proportionately similar, we will not tolerate the thought of truly "premium" small cars. For most people, getting anywhere near 30k for a car that is smaller than midsize is almost unforgivable for a mainstream brand. But, as has been pointed out numerous times here today, the compromises that the general public is willing to make as opposed to the compromises of the enthusiast are quite different. And as an enthusiast, I find those differences rather interesting. Oh well, I am cheap, so new car pricing is a moot point for me. I have had a car loan before and refuse to do so again if at all possible.

          2. raphaelinberlin Avatar

            Though it's easy to remember in the context of the Bentley Continental line, it's easy to forget when you're thinking about the VW Phaeton that it shares it's platform with the more expensive Bentley. There might be some questions to be asked about what this means about brand image or whatnot, but what really mattered for VW management was that the development of a new upmarket platform could be shared across VW and Bentley and would produce the kind of volume needed for greenlighting the project. For VW the brand, the Phaeton is a bit of a mystery. For VW the company, the Phaeton was a brilliant move that helped get the Continental line of vehicles into production and revitalize Bentley's envied lineup. This doesn't really have anything to do with making vehicles less "fat", but it is another way to look at the Phaeton, whose business case was not necessarily the failure it often gets represented as.

      3. Deartháir Avatar

        You've got half of it right, and half of it just slightly off-base.
        You're absolutely right on one point; the Jetta is Volkswagen's throw-away car. Nobody cares about it except North Americans. And, working in a dealership, let me tell you this: the vast, vast, VAST majority don't give two shits about the Volkswagen-ness of a car. I can talk til I'm blue in the face about HOW. MUCH. BETTER the Golf is (and it is; I don't care if you like VW's or not, the Golf is an absolutely amazingly good car for its price point) and they'll say, "That's fine, tell me more about this sedan, I don't like hatchbacks/wagons."
        Volkswagen knows that the average American consumer has so fantastically little knowledge about cars that they are really just mashing buttons like monkeys in a test laboratory. I've had people completely unable to work the power mirrors until I got out, walked around the car, opened the door, and showed them, physically, how to move the switch. And those are the people who want the Jetta.
        On the other hand: The Jetta DID get stripped down, it did not get replaced. The Jetta is still based on the PQ35/46 platform. That platform is designed to be extremely flexible and adaptable, so it is able to underpin everything from the Golf to the Eos to the Tiguan to the Passat to the Jetta. The same basic platform remains for the Jetta, so it is still the same car. The wheelbase has been lengthened, specifically to eliminate the need for the independent rear suspension, which the market never took any interest in, never helped sales one bit, and simply added enormous cost and complexity. The engines remain, but the City Jetta was merged into the Jetta, and introduced as the Trendline Jettas with 2.0 engines.
        Volkswagen enthusiasts NEVER come into the showroom for a Jetta. So building it for them was totally pointless. They might buy a Jetta, but it will usually be as a compliment for the GTI/Touareg/TDI Golf they have already. Volkswagen realized this, and set the Jetta free to be the gateway drug into nicer Volkswagens in the future. It also insulates them; even if the Jetta sucks, they have that separation: "Well it's a Jetta. If you wanted a REAL Volkswagen, you'd buy a Golf. You got the cheapest car we make. Buy something better next time."

        1. facelvega Avatar

          Wow, fascinating look into the sales situation, but it makes complete sense now that you lay it out, and shows how savvy and maybe even necessary the new Jetta really is for VW's expansion plans. The rearview mirror anecdote is amazing.
          But I'll stick to my guns in calling it a new car. Sure it's the same platform, but so are a Civic and CR-V, or a Phaeton and a Bentley, or an old Malibu, new Malibu, G6, 9-3, and a Croma. But yes, it was hardly a clean sheet design.

  24. dragon951 Avatar

    Make this a stripper:
    <img src="http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/200911/2010-porsche-boxster-spyd-5_460x0w.jpg"&gt;
    PDK, PASM, PSM, ABS, airbags, sound deadening, alcantara anything, door windows, silly tent top Just a good old fashioned speedster with a manual, a lightweight, non-variable suspension and a poncho behind the seat (occasionally it rains in LA).
    Although to the question in general, I would say the whole line from Porsche needs to lose about $10 grand a piece. It would still be profitable, just not generate-enough-capital-to-take-over-VW profitable.

    1. Syrax Avatar

      Alcantara is actually a lighter alternative to leather.

      1. dragon951 Avatar

        I was going more for cheaper. Is it cheaper?

        1. Syrax Avatar

          To make, probably. To charge, never.

    2. facelvega Avatar

      A good old-fashioned lightweight Porsche without any of that junk? I think what you want is a Beck Spyder. You can get a brand new one with the upgraded engine and brakes for about $37k that will run numbers right alongside the bloatmobile you picture above. Purity and simplicity in spades, just a nudge below a Caterham and above a Morgan. Not the safest car on the road, though. About the size and weight of a running shoe.
      <img src="http://www.carazed.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/beck-550-spyder-600×375.jpg"&gt;

      1. dragon951 Avatar

        Yeah, the main problem with the Beck is the lack of unibody, crumple zones, door beams etc. Also the lack of warranty. And I can't imagine I would fit very well being 6'2''. Ideally, the Boxster should start at around that price too (assuming my 10k price chop theory). But, I definitely like the look of the Beck Speedsters.
        <img src="http://www.beckspeedster.com/images/559_reedGreenSpeedster2_007.jpg&quot; width=500 />

        1. facelvega Avatar

          Amazingly enough, the Beck actually does come with a one year warranty, as likely would the engine you source from elsewhere to keep it officially not a finished vehicle they're selling you. But yes, generally you're right on that, and it's definitely tiny and whoah a bad car to crash in.

    3. ptschett Avatar

      It never ceases to amuse me that the decontented Boxster is more expensive than the regular one.

      1. dragon951 Avatar

        Well, they tarted it up quite a bit. Juiced engine, aluminum body panels, top o' the line seats, fancy wheels blah, blah, blah

  25. Jim-Bob Avatar

    I would actually say that the new Jetta base model is too expensive for what you get. I comparison shopped them at the local auto show and actually came to the conclusion that the Toyota Corolla was a better buy. It had better build quality and more power (127hp in the Corolla vs 115hp in the Jetta) while being less expensive. Seriously… 115 hp in the base Jetta? My 1995 Sentra had that much power and it weighed less. A lot less. Honestly, the new Jetta should be no more than maybe $13,500 after incentives, etc.
    As for other cars that cost too much, how about the Golf TDI, or any Golf for that matter? It needs about $3-5k taken off of it's price tag to be competitive. Also, the Hyundai Accent. It's a bottom feeder of a car and should be priced in the sub $10k range with A/C.
    I'd also like to see the Toyota Aygo sold in the US as the Yaris is just too big for my needs. I want to buy a 4 seater hatch with a nice 1 liter 3 and a 5 speed manual under the hood. After owning a Geo Metro I simply can't see driving anything bigger on a daily basis because the fuel economy is amazing. I want a new version of the Metro…complete with my 45 mpg avg fuel economy (done over 10k miles). 3 cylinder cars are proof positive that great fuel economy doesn't require an expensive hybrid car.

    1. Deartháir Avatar

      Can't possibly agree with you on the Golf. There is no car in its price category that is even half as good a car as that one. Nothing even close.
      I have been informed, however, that you poor suckers unfortunate Americans have to pay an exorbitant premium for the diesel. That is ENTIRELY the fault of your government, not Volkswagen. I've asked about the price variance from the US to Canada, and without a second's hesitation, every executive says the exact same thing. "Government. Diesel is way easier in Canada."

      1. Jim-Bob Avatar

        I think the price for the cheapest diesel Golf is somewhere north of $23,000, which is entirely too much for a economy car…or at least a hatchback. Plus, you can't get into a gasser for much less than $19,000 and for that money there are better values to be had. That and VW has a spotty reliability reputation in the US due to the Golf/Jetta IV and many Americans don't see them as being comparable in reliability to a Kia, much less the Toyotas that they seem to now want to go after. Don't get me wrong, the Golf is a nice car. I would buy one if it came in a sub-1.8 liter 4 cylinder, got 34 city/40 highway and sold for less than say $13k. But for what they are asking I can find cars that offer me a better economic picture than a VW. My enthusiast cars are all old and modified and I do not expect them to be daily drivers. My daily driver though has to offer me low operating costs and VW simply does not offer anything that satisfies that requirement. Now if they all of a sudden chose to sell the Polo or the Fox here my opinion might change. For now though I simply cannot justify the kind of payment their cars would require me to make every month. Then again…. I chose to buy a $250 Geo Metro rather than to put the money I had saved towards a down payment on a new car, so who am I to say what others want? (Between fuel, maintenance and commercial insurance I spend less than $400 a month to drive 2500 miles.)

  26. Alff Avatar

    Who wouldn't? Even with more money, though, I doubt I'd be in the new car market. There are way too many used ones on my bucket list.

  27. joshuman Avatar

    My uncle went into the local Bickford Ford dealership and ordered exactly what he wanted on his truck. This very same dealership does a lot of fleet sales to companies working in Alaska and British Columbia so they are accustomed to doing just what you said.

  28. topdeadcentre Avatar

    Volvo used to make basic cars that lasted forever and could be optioned up nicely. They're now exclusively making upscale models. It's nearly impossible to find one that isn't larded up with leather and extra-cost electronics on a dealer's lot. And even their low-optioned cars are hugely expensive. They're even giving up on what was their core business for a few decades, the station wagon. In favor of SUV's with no more space, but much more profit. Ugh.
    My next car will be a recent-model used Volvo wagon, to replace the current V70R which replaced the previous 850 Turbowagon. It looks like it will also be my last Volvo because of the ever-increasing selling prices, and possibly my last wagon, as the SUV has finally, horribly, knocked them out of the market.
    Sic transit gloria mundi.

    1. facelvega Avatar

      On the other hand, those larded-up second gen V70 models have depreciated like crazy and are now a fairly solid deal in the used market. If I had kids, I'd have probably already bought one. Sadly, the R versions have held more of their value, but a T5 at least is now far cheaper than the comparable Audi or BMW models. Saab 9-5s have also depreciated precipitously, but are probably not as appealing an option.

  29. Hoonda Avatar

    Absolutely agreed on the last paragraph. I honestly find few if any new cars even remotely appealing. I'd MUCH rather buy something used, and restore/modify it to be what I want. Its sad to say the new Kia Optima and the Forte Koup are the only things that appeal to me (especially if they start offering a manual trans with the turbo motor, and stick the turbo motor into the forte).
    Hmmm… 6 grand? I'll take a 1995 accord and drop an H22A swap into it along with some thicker sway bars and some progress lowering springs. The rest can pay for cleaning the car up and hookers and blow. I now have an accord SiR that looks better than a new civic Si, drives better, is faster, and gets better fuel economy while being cheap as dirt to insure and fix.
    Or for more hoonability, drop a V8 into your rwd volvo of choice.

  30. CLB Avatar

    How about a cheaper minivan. I'd love one with quality vinyl seats and a hose out interior to handle the inevitable kid barf and cheerios.

  31. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    <img src="http://images.compucars.co.uk/104771/large/mercedes-a-class-a160-hatchback-diesel_3097361.jpg&quot; width=450>
    There's one of these in our showroom right now. Lowest trim grade, 15" plastic hubcaps, "keep-fit" rear crank windows, no parktronic, it's an A160 CDi (diesel) Classic SE with the optional autotronic gearbox and metallic paint.
    It's £twenty freakin' grand.
    Fortunately, if you find that a bit *cough* spicy, we can always cut you a finance deal…. *cough*.

    1. ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs Avatar
      ɹǝʌoɹ ǝБuɐɹʇs

      I always thought that was weird, too. It seems to me like it would make more sense to put the cranks up front and power in the back–that way the driver can still control all windows from his seat (if the car's not too wide, which an A-Class certainly is not). It would also have the benefit of being able to lock out the kids'/kidnapping victims' windows.
      Consumers would probably look at it and go "hurr durr why are the power windows in back", but it makes sense, I tell you!

    2. smokyburnout Avatar

      Only US market car I can think of is the Neon, seen a few with power front/crank rear.

    3. ptschett Avatar

      Neon sedans always had crank windows in back. Adding the power mechanism would have eaten some back-seat width and Chrysler decided the spatial comfort was more important.

  32. P161911 Avatar

    Had another thought on the loaded used car vs. stripper new car. Most options deprecate at a rate probably 4-5X the rate of the base price. 5 years down the road there really isn't much difference in price between the base model and the xle super limited edition broughm model. There are exceptions for thing like diesel engines and 2wd vs 4wd.

    1. tonyola Avatar

      Things like air conditioning (or its lack) can make a huge difference in a used car's selling price. Same is true for automatic vs. stick in non-sport models.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        True, there are a few options that matter years down the road. But most of the options that add $$$ to the sticker really don't matter much in a few years. Power seats, sunroof, automatic climate control, 22 speaker Bose stereo system, navigation system, metallic paint, leather seats, headlight washers, butt warmers, etc. don't count for that much on resale after a few years.

  33. Deartháir Avatar

    Rob answered his own question.
    We as enthusiasts say we want a stripped-down car that's just a great engine and nothing else. Up here, we sell that. Comfortline TDI Jetta. $23k, about the equivalent of $19k down there. It's got A/C, power windows and locks, and that's about it.
    Can't sell 'em.
    Also: When cars GET decontented, like the Jetta, we end up with a huge comment-stream online about how the car has been decontented, and now it sucks. Have any of you driven the Jetta? It handles BETTER than the previous generation, is quieter and more civilized to drive, and the drum brakes work significantly better than the old discs, with LESS fading. But nobody cares about that, it's just a lot of bitching that the car is "cheaper". Yes. Just like you asked for. Want higher content? Buy the GLI. Soft-touch interiors, independent suspension, and the awesome 2.0T. And it comes in a stripped-down version. But guess what? All 20 of the pre-orders I have for the car are for the fully-loaded version.

  34. slr5000 Avatar

    Every car sold in Australia ever. Thanks to some amusing (or enraging, if you are in the position to buy) taxes on luxury, offroad and sports cars, we have some eye watering prices! New (base model, no options) Porsche 911? 220,000 please, Rolls Royce Phantom? 1.1 million, thank you very much. Dodge Nitro (snigger)? Starting at 38 fucking thousand dollars australian, for last years model. The crazy pricing on the phantom is almost understandable, but it blows me away that Dodge can sell us bad, old cars and literally get DOUBLE what they would have selling them to the US domestic market.
    Keep in mind that the AUD currently exchanges at about 10 cents on the dollar with USD.

  35. slr5000 Avatar

    Edit – 1 dollar 10 cents on the USD

  36. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    The real problem we have is that we expect brands and features to go together, when we're more likely to find brands and quality going together.
    In Europe, Asia, etc. ('other places,' ugh), MBZ sells less tricked-out versions of the same cars we get here to use as taxis, etc., because they're supposedly solid cars and should give no trouble. So you can get a ride in an E-Class taxi in Paris, which I did. And it had cloth seats and a stick shift. We could never get that here, because Americans do much more "brand association" than do Europeans – hence also why nobody bought a Phaeton.
    That reasoning doesn't go both ways. Consider how cheaply one can have a Taurus or Avalon with all the same features as a Mercedes. Why do people still buy Benzes? Why don't people consider Ford and Toyota on the same level as MBZ? There should then be some perhaps less quantifiable metric by which the Mercedes is better – build quality, perhaps. Certainly that was one true of Mercedes, and it is supposedly becoming true once more.
    If we weren't all brand-blinded consumer whores, we'd probably all perk up and demand that Mercedes sell a car built like a Mercedes but equipped like an Avalon, for the same price as a car built like an Avalon but equipped like a Mercedes. Until that day, though, I'm buying used.

  37. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    Also, I'd love to see a stripper anything by Nissan that isn't a Sentra, Versa, or Altima. I drive a well-equipped Maxima from fifteen years ago, but well-equipped meant something different back then. If I could get a 370Z with cloth seats and crank windows, or a Maxima with a manual box and parabolic-reflector headlights…
    Well, the problem with that has already been stated: the kind of person who wants to buy a stripper is the kind of person who will probably be willing to buy used.

  38. Rory Carroll Avatar
    Rory Carroll

    Audi A3. Quattro, Manual, Turbo 4. Nothing else. Under $30k.