Great minds of Oppo, I need your help and collective wisdom! If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be graduating in a couple of months, which means I’ll be able to get a car. Main usage will be weekend drives and roadtrips, plus the occasional trip to the store. Preferably RWD, light and nimble. Budget is €15-20k (European market), so sadly no 507 for me.

I’ve created a longlist, but since I don’t really have a lot of experience with these cars (of them, I’ve only driven the MR2 and the (ND) MX-5), I thought I’d ask you about your experiences, so I can hopefully create a shortlist. Any input is greatly appreciated, I’m especially looking for the following things:

  • How is it to drive?
  • How is it to live with?
  • Reliability?
  • Running costs (repairs, fuel, ...)?

And, perhaps most importantly: Will I fit? I’m 1m92 (6'3) with a 34" inseam. As a reference, I fit in the ND MX-5 with about 1" to spare.

Toyota MR2 (ZZW30) - €9000

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Post-facelift (2003 & up), to avoid the pre-cat failures. MR-layout, very direct steering. Luggage space is non-existent, unless you leave the spare tire at home. Cheap.

Mazda MX-5 (NC) - €16000

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The answer? Would be a 2009+ 2.0l, since I don’t really like the styling of the pre-facelift model.

Smart Roadster - €8000

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The definition of small and nimble. Cheapest to buy and run. Questionable reliability and waterproofing. Allegedly horrible semi-automatic gearbox.

BMW Z4 (E85) - €16000

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One of the 6-cylinder models (2.2i, 2.5i, 2.5si, 3.0i, 3.0si). Post-facelift, or a pre-facelift one with the white turn signal option. More refined than most of the other options. Possibly something between a cruiser and a sports car?

MGF - €9000

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Would be the Trophy 160. British reliability.

Opel Speedster - €17000

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Barebones motoring. Possibly too much car to handle without a lot of experience?

Lotus Elise (S2) - €23000

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See Opel Speedster, but more expensive. Over budget but doesn’t depreciate.

And then there are the left-field choices:

Mercedes-Benz SL (R129) - €16000

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Brute 90s cruiser. Early ones are eligible as oldtimer, enabling low taxes and insurance. Limited availability of manual transmissions.

Triumph TR6 - €15000

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Possibly the only classic British roadster I’ll fit in? Quite reliable and extensive parts availability, but unsafe by any modern standards.

So, that’s it, the floor is yours. I’m also open to suggestions that are not on the list. Thanks!