I’ve been Craigslist/autotrader shopping for a new to me daily driver for about a month now. It needs to do few things(get to daycare and train station), I want it to do a little more(be fun, look decent with a rack so it can be somewhat useful).

This should be a slightly less onerous ownership experience than my recent Jalop escapades, it doesn’t need to be brand-new-Corolla easy, but not 1980s BMW level of investment.

I had a pretty set price ceiling of no higher than the wife’s car, and preferably more in the $10k range. No set age, but new enough and low enough miles to be worth taking out a modest loan.

It needs a backseat. I strongly prefer a manual. I strongly prefer front wheel drive. No soft tops because Minnesota winter. I want to be able to drive it home after work one night, so no distance buys.

What did I want but ultimately ruled out due to price/age/miles: GTI, FIST/FOST, 328i xdrive. There’s one GTI that’s close to budget, and one FIST.

I’d still consider it I guess, if I found one: Veloster Turbo.

Cars that I may still try to test drive but just on paper leaving me feeling, meh: Mazda 3s, Chevy Sonic 1.4T, Ford Focus 2.0 or Fiesta Ecoboost.

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What are the two cars sitting on lots that I think I’m deciding between: 2011 Mini Cooper S and a 2012 VW Beetle Turbo. I’ve driven an older mini, and a couple of mk vi platform VWs ; and right now I’m undecided. I do prefer the Mini’s looks. If the Beetle were anything other than white, I’d be more tempted. Pictures of actual cars..

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Why these? They do everything I need, in the most enjoyable package, at a price/miles/age tradeoff that I like. I can put a down payment, have reasonable payments, and never be underwater or anything.

How do they stack up on paper?

Quickness - VW by a hair

Looks - Mini Cooper

Functionality - Beetle, it’s probably a better comparison to the Clubman in it’s size.

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Reliability - Nod here seems to be to the VW although the 2011 mini seems to be step up from its past. Double bonus points to the VW because it’s got a CPO warranty.

Just in what I recall of driving cars like them, in my experience the Mk vi platform is more comfortable and the beetle is a comfortable version of it. I might find it too soft. I like the coopers looks, and I think it’s a car I’d enjoy in a bubble(not worrying about family, long term ownership, etc.).