So, as much as I would love to buy a 996, the reality is I will need to either pick up or drop off my daughter from childcare every day. Hence, rear seat accessibility is key if I ever want to drive it. As a result, I will present to you several sport sedan options I’ve been mulling over in order to get your feedback and/or alternative options.

My broad parameters are that the vehicle be under $30k, a legit sports sedan, not just a “sporty” sedan, and 4 doors. While I would prefer a manual, some of the better paddle shift cars are good too. Also, if its from an unreliable brand (German) the price of an aftermarket warranty should be factored in. I will own this in addition to my 2004 land cruiser which will see all snow and rough weather duty.

The fun factor is key here. I would ideally like to use it for HDPE or track days as well, as the Milwaukee mile isn’t far from my house.

2008-2016 BMW M3

While not the most reliable, the M3 is an obvious choice. Used sedans are on Autotrader from around $20 to 30k. An aftermarket warranty would be necessary though, which could easily add another $5k to the price.
While likely the best track option on this list, the power is made at the top of the rev range, making it less ideal for day-to-day use.

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2007-2014 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

This one leads the pack in two main areas: Attention seeking and poor reliability. While there are numerous ones listed in the low-20s on Autotrader, an aftermarket warranty is needed, increasing the price.
While definitely the most aggressively styled of the options, its also considered to be one of the best handling AMG cars ever made.

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2009-2016 Audi S4 B8

This is probably the most sedate, and cheapest option on the list. Auto trader shows manuals can be picked up from the high teens to low twenties pretty easily. This generation is more appealing to me than the B7 for two big reasons: reliability and the stretched wheelbase. From what I’ve read on the forums, this generation doesn’t have nearly the issues the B7 had, and is largely reliable. While its down on power from the factory compared to the others, dyno charts appear to show Audi was sandbagging it, and a tune easily brings it into the mid-400hp. Not to mention due to the supercharger, the power is much more usable than the M3.

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2008-2013 CTS-V

This is the most powerful car on the list by a decent margin. While I would love to get one with a stick, those are still $35k+. However, 556hp is a nice consolation. Extra bonus is that these are generally considered to be quite reliable, although they are also the heaviest on the list too. I would say the styling is just as aggressive as the C63, but they seem to get a pass as they’re Cadillacs.

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2008-2013 Lexus IS-F

This is basically the dark horse challenger to the others. While it doesn’t have a manual option, the auto fully locks in 2nd through 8th, and is generally considered to be one of the best manual shifting autos you can buy. The power is respectable at 415hp, and being a Lexus, I have no qualms about its reliability. The added rarity ensures I’ll never see another. If I got one, I would probably look for a 2011+. The ISF got a torsen LSD in 2010, and the suspension was upgraded in 2011.

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Final Thoughts:

The other main contender that comes to mind is the Chevy SS. I actually test drove a manual one this spring and really liked it. However, finding one under $30k is quite difficult, and impossible if you want the magnetic ride suspension or a manual. At the moment I’m leaning towards the IS-F, due to its reliability and good ratings. A manual would be nice, but since I’ll be using it to commute, an auto in traffic is nicer.

What do you guys think?

PS. I tried to insert pictures, but Kinja is being a bitch.