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Daily sports car?

Lightcycle

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looking at possibly adding a car to the garage either this year or next, have it narrowed down to either a Porsche 996, because childhood dreams, or E92 M3 because V8.

anyone own either or both and can offer a first hand opinion?
I had a 996 for 12 years. It was the first 911 that was reliable enough to be a daily driver. A common problem is the rear main seal leak, which was a design flaw that persisted through to the early run of the 997 series. Oil drops underneath the car gives you plenty of clues and time to fix this. Would cost about $3K CDN at the stealership, probably half that at an independent shop.

Less common but still prevalent is the intermediate shaft bearing, which wears out prematurely because the 996 has an "integrated dry sump" which doesn't adequately lubricate the bearing at speed or when cornering, so it wears down leading to an oil leak at the IMS seal. Ultimately results in an engine failure very quickly, so you have less time to diagnose. Also around $3K to replace bearing as preventative maintenance (ask the owner for a receipt), otherwise it's $$$$ to rebuild/replace the engine. A new engine will cost more than what you will pay for the car today.

I never had a RMS or IMS problem, but I did have a cracked cylinder less than 20K on the odo, new engine replaced under warranty. Freak problem, not many other 996s reported having this issue. No other major issues besides (expensive) wear and tear items in the 12 years of ownership.

The 996 was not well-loved when it came out. First of the water-cooled 911s, it made the last oil-cooled 993 an instant collectible. A lot of Porsche guys weren't fans of the design as well, the fried egg headlights vs the classic round 911 ones, the slab-sides vs rounded hips of the last generation and the plasticky interior.

Despite the engine leak problems, it was a lot more reliable than any of the oil-cooled 911s before it and it represents excellent value since resale prices are so depressed. Definitely find yourself an independent shop if you run into any problems and never step foot into a dealership unless you want to be bent over the hood.
 
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mbroyda

Well-known member
I had a 996 for 12 years. It was the first 911 that was reliable enough to be a daily driver. A common problem is the rear main seal leak, which was a design flaw that persisted through to the early run of the 997 series. Oil drops underneath the car gives you plenty of clues and time to fix this. Would cost about $3K CDN at the stealership, probably half that at an independent shop.

Less common but still prevalent is the intermediate shaft bearing, which wears out prematurely because the 996 has an "integrated dry sump" which doesn't adequately lubricate the bearing at speed or when cornering, so it wears down leading to an oil leak at the IMS seal. Ultimately results in an engine failure very quickly, so you have less time to diagnose. Also around $3K to replace bearing as preventative maintenance (ask the owner for a receipt), otherwise it's $$$$ to rebuild/replace the engine. A new engine will cost more than what you will pay for the car today.

I never had a RMS or IMS problem, but I did have a cracked cylinder less than 20K on the odo, new engine replaced under warranty. Freak problem, not many other 996s reported having this issue. No other major issues besides (expensive) wear and tear items in the 12 years of ownership.

The 996 was not well-loved when it came out. First of the water-cooled 911s, it made the last oil-cooled 993 an instant collectible. A lot of Porsche guys weren't fans of the design as well, the fried egg headlights vs the classic round 911 ones, the slab-sides vs rounded hips of the last generation and the plasticky interior.

Despite the engine leak problems, it was a lot more reliable than any of the oil-cooled 911s before it and it represents excellent value since resale prices are so depressed. Definitely find yourself an independent shop if you run into any problems and never step foot into a dealership unless you want to be bent over the hood.

thanks for the detailed reply, i've been reading up on the IMS/RMS issue and will be looking for a car that already had these replaced, any recommendations on mechanics?
 

kwtoxman

Well-known member
Getting back to the OP and their car wants/budget, I'd mention a Golf R (already mentioned) and a Solstice GXP as options to consider. I own both and am in no rush to change things up; they're good cars. Both mine are manual transmissions because /best. Both are turbo (not to the OPs spec) but new turbo cars are not like old turbo cars. The GXP and R are running recent BW K04 OEM setups with the solstice being twin scroll for significantly faster and earlier spool.

The MK6 Golf R is my daily driver sports car and it's flexible enough for general life use; I've carried trees in it, camped for a week and enjoy the AWD with daily winter use. If you got caught up in the sports car definition debate then maybe the Solstice GXP is one's style; a two seater roadster that's much lighter than most newer cars with some of the best suspension design and handling out there. It's an extremely capable AX car and has won the national T2 road course championship (twice I think). The Solstice GXP is obviously not as utilitarian as the Golf R, but I have a friend who owns a GXP in the GTA and it's his daily driver year round. He AX's the car regularly in summer and often wins... with FTD kudos as well.









The GXP has suspension improvements and the GM tune upgrade.


@Allistonfjr, I see corvette fatigue all the time too. The Solstice brings people in.... it must be the classic and rare body lines. Last week I went out for lunch and walking out of the restaurant I observed a middle aged Asian woman taking pictures of my car in the parking lot. Personally I'm happy to see GM move away from the Fast and Furious look of the C7 vettes.

To all those with the higher end autos, nice
.

Cheers
 

mimico_polak

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@kwtoxman that's a good assortment and mix of cars. I actually like the GXP but find them they're fairly expensive still, and for that cash I there's a lot of options. How do you find the car day to day?
How's the Golf R overall in terms of reliability as a daily? The GTI is definitely on the list, but the R seems more desirable (i.e.: more expensive!)
 

kwtoxman

Well-known member
@kwtoxman that's a good assortment and mix of cars. I actually like the GXP but find them they're fairly expensive still, and for that cash I there's a lot of options. How do you find the car day to day?
How's the Golf R overall in terms of reliability as a daily? The GTI is definitely on the list, but the R seems more desirable (i.e.: more expensive!)
Thx! I to think it "is" a great assortment/mix... they are each great but with different personalities/experiences, and variety is good! They both have different types of rides, different vehicle dynamics and different advantages/disadvantages. I've had them (Solstice GXP and Golf MK6 R) from new and would recommend either one to people at this point; both models in their generation have shown to be reliable vehicles overall over the years and on the forums. So it depends on how performance-oriented you want to go with a daily driver sports car buy and how much you want to give up in other areas. I have no regrets with the R as my daily but as I mentioned, a friend has no regrets with his GXP as a daily.

Reliability in the Golf R has been high so far (and the Solstice GXP too). And that's really important to me (I don't need those headaches). The MK6 R 2.0 engine was the last and most refined version of that design; it included a number of fixes and improvements from earlier offerings. And it also includes improvement to the most commonly spoke-of fuel pump cam follower, fixing earlier reliability issues. The MK7 R (and GTI) is a new 2.0 engine design and it's turned to be as reliable as the last MK6 R engines... but without the fuel pump cam follower design and specific/added maintenance. The MK6 Golf R fuel pump cam follower refinements in the top spec R engine have shown now over the years a general consensus replacement schedule of 20K miles with a modified aftermarket fuel pump and IIRC 40K miles with the stock pump. I recommend replacement but at least do an inspection of the piece. Turns out MK6 Golf R fuel pump cam follower maintenance is easy to do at home (with multiple youtube videos) and an internet full replacement kit is $31 US. Win win. IIRC, the MK6 GTI is a different and newer engine design without the cam follower design as well (like the MK7 R).

Let me add that both the GXP and MK6 R cars can be modified from light to heavy, and with different advantages and disadvantages. We're getting into the weeds now but lets geek out for the enthusiasts. I find the GXP to be the better car for many people to modify, in so much as you can use the stock clutch up to some impressive hp/tq gains in the range of 50% over stock before it becomes an issue. The last few generations of Golf Rs (including the MK7 and 6) have been known to have clutches that don't play well with even smaller engine hp/tq gains over stock... a number of people with just aftermarket tunes have reported clutch slippage problems. And upgraded clutches are not so fun in a "daily driver", with a depressing amount of reported issues, loss of refinement and potential loss of reliability (quality installers can be hard to find). I'm on the OEM stock clutch with both cars and no issues. But get spendy with a good builder and both cars can get to be impressive platforms and rides.

Make no mistake though, nothing beats basic mods for OEM-level reliability. I didn't even tune the R, though I have VCDS and did upgrade/customize many of the car's electronic features and behaviors (including Euro LED OEM brake lights). Both cars have similar enthusiast communities (smaller but active, from mild to wild).

FWIW, the Solstice GXP is definitely a quicker/faster car (at least to high speed) than the R. It's significantly lighter and has a lot of torque. With the GM tune it has 340 ft/lbs (with with manual transmission plus its mechanical advantage over slushboxes) and the dyno graphs consistently show an impressive early rpm torque curve (even the stock 260 ft/lbs configuration) . E.g.,



The GXP engine performance is more V8 like with early torque; the MK6 (and 7) R is much more of a revver in the power deliver. The GXP platform is impressive; it's lighter, more responsive and more powerful than most people realize; I've seen the GXP beat M4's in AX (and I have a picture of an M4 literally showing a wheel off the ground in a flat corner AX maneuver <race tires help... and pretty cool>). The GXP is also RWD which is much more pure sports car than the Golf R (as per the earlier sports car debate) and you can turn off the drivers aids in steps; from full-on to full off (important if you are a driving enthusiast, imo). Canadian MK6 R's came with the similar driver's aid reduction options. I don't know about GTI or MK7 R's.

OTOH the MK6 Golf R is just more refined than the GXP if you want that in your daily driver. The MK6/7 Golf R has a much more refined, lower effort and easy-to-work with clutch feel in daily driving, a much nicer and more refined ride (my GXP with the KW V3 suspension <and other upgrades> is great for AX but a compromise on the street), is more comfortable and loaded (options-wise), plus easier and more flexible to work with day-to-day. The Golf R has heated seats, the GXP doesn't.

I could have went with the MK6 or 7 GTI; I'm very happy having gone the upgraded R choice I made. I'm not big on FWD in a daily sports car. YMMV. We're all different. It depends on what you're looking for in car and want to willing to put up with. As I posted earlier, a friend has no regrets with his GXP as a daily driver. Good luck with the search. Cheers.
 
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mimico_polak

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@kwtoxman Wow thanks for that write up, highly appreciate it! I'm trying to keep with a budget so the only R's that I found were in the 2012 range...which I'm not sure how I feel about. I'm still really leaning towards the 1/2 series as I can get those within that range, but hard to find a clean version with relatively low kms, and the exact model I want. <100k, manual, M-sport, or at the very least sport package. Seems like the lot of them are all automatics, and the only auto I would consider in the 1'er is the 135i with the DCT. However, then I have the issue of dealing with N55 motor, which is much more reliable then the N54...but still I think I'd like to stick with NA type of engine. I've driven the 128 and 135 and although the 135 is stupid fast, the power delivery on the 128 is nice and smooth as well.
Anyway I'll keep looking as I'm in no rush, but will start going for test drives soon. It's weird being without a car for the first time in 23 years...
 

kwtoxman

Well-known member
Nice @mimico_polak, I've been following. The lower tier BMW's are a class down performance-wise from the Solstice GXP for sure (as mentioned the GXP beats the M4 which is the highest performance version of the X35i turbo inline six). Basically the Golf R too. I'm more of a X35 person in the BMW line, or up further with BMW M / Audi RS hunting. The Golf R is the same platform and engine as the Audi TT-S, which is no slouch.

Still, you've got a nice refined and comfortable daily driver with a BMW of any trim level. Though reliability can be hit and miss from model to model so research carefully. And without AWD unless you get the x-drive option.

I remember reading the N54's were problematic early on but seemed to get sorted better in the later years, and I observed a friend's single turbo 335XI car work well for ~ 100k before he sold it and read similar stuff on forums. IIRC N55's are similarly reliable to the later N54's just mentioned. That being said, BMW cars can be a little more quirky too requiring dealer/mechanic work without home solutions at times. It will be pricier to service because of that. Newer cars have been getting more and more that way; even in things like battery service and on cars like MK7 Golf R's.

Enjoy the test drives.
 
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mimico_polak

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@kwtoxman Thanks. One of the cars that's on my radar (and a bit off from my primary search) is the BMW 328xi Touring M-Sport. I've always had a thing for the wagons, but it doesn't come in manual, and the ones that do are quite old and very few up for sale. The M235 is just beyond my budget, however I've also read that the 228i RWD is quite a good ride with the M-Sport pack. Will see...lots of options out there, and there's always something better, faster, or whatnot. In the end I'll probably end up with a Volt Gen2 dammit...

EDIT: I believe the closest to the 328xi with the 335 motor is the X1-35xi. Which is very nice as well but I'm not sure I want a small SUV. Apparently it's a well sorted ride and is on par with the 335.
 
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Evoex

The God
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@kwtoxman Thanks. One of the cars that's on my radar (and a bit off from my primary search) is the BMW 328xi Touring M-Sport. I've always had a thing for the wagons, but it doesn't come in manual, and the ones that do are quite old and very few up for sale. The M235 is just beyond my budget, however I've also read that the 228i RWD is quite a good ride with the M-Sport pack. Will see...lots of options out there, and there's always something better, faster, or whatnot. In the end I'll probably end up with a Volt Gen2 dammit...

EDIT: I believe the closest to the 328xi with the 335 motor is the X1-35xi. Which is very nice as well but I'm not sure I want a small SUV. Apparently it's a well sorted ride and is on par with the 335.
Audi just announced they are bringing back the fire breathing RS6 wagon! Just tell the wife its gonna be a collectors item and worth money later lol.
 

Allistonfjr

Well-known member
591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque
Maybe its just me but these crazy HP numbers are ridiculous. Unless your going to the track its completely unusable. The funs over soon after you floor it. Pointless. Drove a friends Z06. Fun was over in 1st gear. As Jay Leno says "its more fun to drive a slower car fast then to drive a faster car slow".
 

Hardwrkr13

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The Solstice isn't pretty imo and the asking price of the GXP's is nutty. I'd rather have a Z4 or 370Z convertible. It's less about performance and more about a fun get-around car that's good looking. I like the Miata but my friend has one and you can't even fit a pair of luggage in it.
 

Lightcycle

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thanks for the detailed reply, i've been reading up on the IMS/RMS issue and will be looking for a car that already had these replaced, any recommendations on mechanics?
I used to go here for all my European cars. They do BMWs, Mercs, Jags, etc.

It's been a while since I even lived in the GTA, much less owned a car, but when I did, I took my vehicles to HP Cars (used to be Heimrath Performance) out in Scarborough. Mario always treated me right, never did unnecessary repairs, and took time to explain what all the options were (repair, replace, OEM, aftermarket, etc) and his recommendations always saved me money and worked out to be the best solution in the long run.

Go to the dealerships, and they'll replace anything with a bit of dirt on it with OEM parts, and charge you for the displeasure.
 

mimico_polak

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Audi just announced they are bringing back the fire breathing RS6 wagon! Just tell the wife its gonna be a collectors item and worth money later lol.
Yes I can see the discussion now. "Sorry hun...kids aren't going to college, and we're living off bread and potatoes for the next 5 years. Need that RS6...it's a collector's item! We will make money!"
 

mimico_polak

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The Solstice isn't pretty imo and the asking price of the GXP's is nutty. I'd rather have a Z4 or 370Z convertible. It's less about performance and more about a fun get-around car that's good looking. I like the Miata but my friend has one and you can't even fit a pair of luggage in it.
Personally I like the GXP...however for close to 20k I can get a LOT of other car for that money. Something that looks, feels, and drives well also.
 

kwtoxman

Well-known member
That's up 20 HP and 110 ft./lbs. over the C6 RS6's 5.0L V10 twin turbo. Pretty impressive numbers out of one less litre and 2 less cylinders.
The turbo revolution in combination with engine design advances has been really impressive to see over the last number of years . Trivia point, the Solstice GXP when released in 2007 had the highest specific output of any GM production engine ever... (rated 130 hp/l). The whole ecotec engine platform was/is very high-tech. The LNF in the GXP has VVT, DI, TC and things like sodium filled exhaust valves, etc. Plus strong, durable, reliable.

All that tech has since been incorporated across numerous newer engine platforms and in many more models, producing big responsive power and less weight. It's a great time for performance cars.
 

mimico_polak

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The turbo revolution in combination with engine design advances has been really impressive to see over the last number of years . Trivia point, the Solstice GXP when released in 2007 had the highest specific output of any GM production engine ever... (rated 130 hp/l). The whole ecotec engine platform was/is very high-tech. The LNF in the GXP has VVT, DI, TC and things like sodium filled exhaust valves, etc. Plus strong, durable, reliable.

All that tech has since been incorporated across numerous newer engine platforms and in many more models, producing big responsive power and less weight. It's a great time for performance cars.
Is that the same motor/gearbox that's in the coveted Cobalt SS Turbo (not the Supercharger)? I remember driving that thing and the only reason I didn't buy it was because I couldn't find an unmodded version.
 

kwtoxman

Well-known member
Is that the same motor/gearbox that's in the coveted Cobalt SS Turbo (not the Supercharger)? I remember driving that thing and the only reason I didn't buy it was because I couldn't find an unmodded version.
Basically, yes. Both are the same LNF/gearbox (though the gearbox ratios may be different?), with minor differences. That's part of the reason there's a pretty deep aftermarket for the engine and driveline.
 

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