Here is the situation: I have a budget of no more than $45,000. Planning to buy sometime in the next year. I currently DD a 2005 MINI Cooper S and would need to trade it in if we reach the ceiling of my budget. So, I wouldn't exactly hate being convinced to buy something closer to the $35k range.

My current shortlist (and their respective downsides)

  • 2015 Audi S3. I just don't think I can drive an auto, as great as DSG is
  • 2015 Ford Mustang. The one I want would be $40,000. Tough to spend that much on a Mustang. Depreciation would hit hard and I don't think the design will age particularly well. I love it right now though.
  • 2011 Boxster S. There is one locally with 10,000 miles within budget. I drove it today and it made me fall all warm and fuzzy inside. That said, Boxsters are kind of douchey (I'd prefer a Cayman) and a pain in the ass to work on.
  • Gently used S5. Cool car, but a little too big and not ideal for track days

Demands:

  • Must have a manual
  • <$45,000
  • <50,000 miles
  • Must be a car. No wagons (sorry). Coupe is preferred
  • Needs to look at least remotely professional. I'm not buying an old AE86 and dropping $40,000 into it.
  • Not an m3. I can't explain why.

Bonus points go to cars that are:

  • Easy to work on (like a BRZ)
  • Good looking
  • Good around a track
  • Still under warranty

What say you, Oppo?