I’ve had a rental car since two days after the accident. The insurance company gave me a few options: sedans, SUVs, or one little red Fiat 500. I have looked at Fiats earlier in the year and thought they were cute, so I used this opportunity to rent one as a prolonged test drive. It definitely doesn’t drive the way I expected. The salesman at the Fiat dealership had bragged about how peppy the car is and how well it handles. Maybe a higher trim level might. Definitely not the one I had rented. It cornered like a shoebox. Pressing the accelerator was like the car said “Oh? Do you really mean that? Okay then.” After what felt like a few seconds, it would accelerate. Definitely not interested in getting a Fiat.
I want to find a car with good gas mileage, manual transmission (strongly preferred), hatchback, and good handling. Reasonable pickup is also desirable to be able to merge at speed and avoid problems. I test drove several vehicles, including a used 2012 Nissan Juke, 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT (hatchback), and new and used 2013 Hyundai Velosters (base and turbo models). The Juke is a crossover between a hatchback, sporty car and a SUV. It handled okay and had good acceleration, but it braked like an SUV (press the brakes and they felt squishy).
The Elantra GT hatchback was a good alternative except that the sales person was obnoxious and made inappropriate comments. It had a little more pickup then the Veloster, but I definitely preferred the Veloster’s looks. (The salesman said he couldn’t figure me out: did I want a midlife crisis car (Veloster) or a middle-aged woman’s car (Elantra)? Yeah, that was a typical comment.)
Velosters are pretty popular and a relatively new model (2012 was the first model year). Used ones run about $16,500. After talking to a few dealers, it looks like the price of a new one might be within the same price range as a new one. Why pay for a used one when I can have a new one? The Veloster manual has a little more horsepower than the automatic (the 20 or so HP make the difference between getting out of the way or a little anemic. But it was a lot of fun to drive. Definitely like the Veloster.
I found one in bright blue and it should be delivered to my door tonight!