"I bought this car 2 yrs. ago for ten grand. Since then I have replaced (due to failure) the alternator, battery, serpentine belt, window reset on track, pulley tensioner, and had two front shocks rebuilt (see below). The guy who owned the car prior to my purchase installed 17" BBS wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport tires, HID headlights, 2 chassis rollbars (and one across the trunk), a cold air intake, and a set of 4 Bilstein PSS9 coilover fully adjustable shocks (2 grand for the set).
Ever since I purchased the vehicle, the check engine light was always on. My mechanic said it was nothing major. I recently purchased a Bosch 80 month battery that exceeds the stock CCA's, and, miraculously, the check engine light has not come back on since (one month now).
Beauty inside and out. The bright blue gauges stand out and are easy to see behind the steering wheel. Black leather/dash/mats is nice. When clean this car looks hot ! Mine is red and I find myself staring her down every time I get out. Both the front and back seats are comfortable. Entry/exit is easy and unobtrusive. A real horn ! 6 way front seat adjustability. 1 touch window control. (Small) Sunglass holder on driver side and grab bar for passenger.
Performance has been great. With this suspension setup, the car turns on rails, with nary a chirp from the tires. Unfortunately, the redline kicks in (6500rpm) RIGHT after the peak in the powerband (6250 rpm). The car will rev to 7 grand before cutoff, but I try not to do that very often. Third gear is the strongest. Running through the 1st few gears will net a non-economic 17-19 mpg, but baby shift to fifth and cruise at 35-45 mph and you will be rewarded with 27-30mpg. Not bad for 174 HP. Just don't discount the fact that she only drinks Dom Perignon at the pump (premium only!).
Performance add-ons are abundant for this car. Ten grand will bump it up to 500 HP, but you can tack on another 75 HP for about 700 bucks.
All weather ? Yes ! Slap some rain-x on the windshield and some nice ultra-high performance all season tires (runnin' Continental Extreme right now), and you will find yourself blowing by all other drivers in the hardest of rainfall (just be sure to avoid deep water with the cold air intake!). Rain sensing wipers insure you don't EVER have to adjust them. Heated sideview mirrors melt away frozen rain in the winter, and the heated seats allow me to keep the sunroof open practically all year long. She is heavy enough (never thought I'd say that), that she plows through snow, and stays glued on course. Make sure you put vaseline on the top of the windows in the winter (freezing rain will freeze them shut and 1 touch of the button will drop the track, so when it thaws, BAM! the window will drop into the door).
If I had to purchase another brand new car tomorrow, my choices for 20k (not in order) would be GTI, Lancer , or Mazda3. Just be sure to always go with a 5 yr. warranty. I couldn't due to the mods ! My total cost in repairs thus far - 2 grand."
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