A lesson in the cost of an older, fast car, however exhilarating
Between when I got the car in April 2008 and when I stopped driving it in 2011 (it sits in my driveway as a slowly fix it - blown head gasket), I've had to replace:
Driver's and passenger's door window motors (80k and 120k miles, respectively, approximately).
The HVAC blower motor (76k).
Oil pressure sensor (gauge constantly read very low, ~80k).
Engine got a pronounced tick, turned out to be a bad lifter (part of the valve train, ~125k).
The headliner was sagging when I got the car, but it wasn't that expensive to fix.
Rusty catalytic converter, the exhaust pipe broke off behind it, replaced it and reattached the pipe (maybe 78k).
The head gasket blew (passenger side, I think) at about 136k, rendering it basically un-driveable. I blame my youthful self.
Tune-ups cost about $1400 on this car; not a good thing.
Finally, I went through four clutches in three years - granted the first one may have had many miles on it and been abused, one of them was defective, and this was the car I learned heel-and-toeing on, but they're about $1000 apiece to replace, and the car makes 325 lb-ft of torque.
Speaking of things that might have been partially my fault, I'm pretty sure I'd have saved that head gasket if I spent a little less time over 5000 RPM in the thing. I mean, it was fun :)
This car is seriously quick and handles like it's on rails.
Really, when it works, it's quicker than a 350Z and anything FWD, and it stayed with a Lancer Evo from a rolling start. The fact that I know these things might have something to do with how it's now in my driveway in the middle of a slow-going head gasket repair job.
Handling is phenomenal; I'm sure it'd be humbled by a Cayman S or a Corvette, but with the SLP suspension upgrade I gave it, it turns-in without delay, and really holds on in corners - understeer is there eventually, but the gas pedal fixes that. Body roll is present, but never a hindrance. Left-right-left transitions are well controlled and great fun. Unfortunately I don't remember how it drove before the SLP things, that wasn't long after I got the car.
Braking is the car's main dynamic weakness. They tend to fade pretty early on, and regardless, the pedal isn't the best. Kinda squishy. (but nowhere near as bad as the TrailBlazer I used to drive.)
The sound of the engine is one of the reasons to have and drive a sporty car, and the LT1 V-8's is one of the best. Which is probably another reason the thing broke on me.
The cockpit is pretty dour compared to most things, with lots of hard plastic. But every control and gauge is easy to find and use, and the shifter and clutch have good feel. Anyhow, I'm of the persuasion that sportiness has no need for luxury, and I think the Camaro agrees with me (but there's still a power driver's seat!).
Overall a fast, agile car that could use a brake upgrade and an engine rebuild (thanks to me). And a reminder of: Fast, Affordable, Reliable. Pick two! :)
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th May, 2013