Nothing has broke, nor has the car broken down in the nearly two years I've had this car, despite all my hard driving. I race the thing fairly often, and I do autocross and hill-climbs, and never had any issues.
I did replace the stock battery though, because it was poor, and it decided it had enough of my abuse after 1.5 years, so I got a nice red-top Optima to replace it.
On 01-September-2006, right at 6,016 miles on the clock, the check engine light came on. This was during normal driving, and there was no stress applied to the car of recent. The next day I pull a code from the ECU reading P0153, O2 Sensor Slow to Respond. Obviously not going to blow the car up or anything, but it could have a slight effect on the performance/exhaust systems. I personally had not noticed any changes in the way the car behaves or performs. A few days after this, I reset the ECU and haven't seen it since. Now at 21,353 miles, and I still have not seen a CEL.
However it should be mentioned during the 15,000 mile routine maintenance check-up (which I got it in late, around 18,000 miles) the dealership claimed to have found a leak in the transmission. They put some dye in the fluid and asked me to come back in a week so they could try and track it down. A week later, I brought it back and they told me the entire transmission should be replaced, under warranty at least.
Pretty excessive I thought, but it was free... so, whatever. During the process it is found my clutch and flywheel is well-worn, and they strongly recommend replacing it.
I looked at the parts, and not being experienced with working on and seeing these parts, I decided to hold-off a day and seek advice from friends and online forums. The only advantage here was there would be very little cost in labor, since the transmission was already being replaced under the warranty, but I still had to buy the parts because they are not covered under warranty (considered a wear & tear item I guess). To top it off, they wanted about $1,200 or so for the clutch, flywheel, and pressure plate! (Remember that's just the parts, no labor)
After some discussing it and trying to weigh the values of each possible decision, I decided to replace only the clutch and pressure plate, skipping the flywheel. I asked them to attempt to smooth out the hot spots on the flywheel surface, but it's not likely it did anything useful. This cost me $350 after it was all said and done...
Luckily, the car drives and feels the same afterward, and there is no chatter or unusual noises/feel from the clutch during acceleration, so that's good. And ~3,000 miles later, still feels the same. Granted, the thing never gave me any problems or died on the road or anything like that, but it's still annoying it happened.
Below I have listed a bunch of comments and thoughts on the car, in no particular order.
- The car is quite heavy, and it feels somewhat nose heavy. Especially under hard braking.
- Brakes are weak, the car needs larger brakes for its weight. The ABS is too aggressive, not taking the tires to their grip limit. It's impossible to lock up the brakes (which is good and bad). Though during autocross runs I take out the ABS fuse to kill it, this requires very precise pedal modulation to prevent locking up the wheels in hard braking, but if you do it right, you can stop in shorter distances (though this does degrade hard braking & cornering).
- Suspension seems a bit soft for a performance oriented suspension, especially when coming to a complete stop during heavy braking. The car seems to rock backwards and forwards like an SUV. Lowering springs and stiffer shocks help remedy this a lot.
- Suspension doesn’t do well over potholes and big bumps… giving you a somewhat jarring effect. It's not painful, but it doesn’t sound or feel quite as pleasant as driving over small squirrels.
- Should be noted after suspension and tires upgrade, the car handles a LOT better, and can take corners at much higher speeds.
- The door handles feel cheap. When you push/pull the door from inside the car via the handle, it makes that wonderful plastic on plastic rubbing/cracking sound. It's not terrible, but I feel they could have done better. But they still work and haven't broken; just annoying.
- The handbrake is weak, so weak in fact I do not trust it if I parked on a somewhat steep hill. I tried to get the dealership to adjust it, but they said the cable was already at its adjusting point limit.
- Power assist steering is too slow to keep up! Steering becomes extremely heavy for aggressive driving at the lower speeds (<30 MPH). Suspect this is problem with the power assist or steering rack, as when you try to do quick adjustments, you are fighting the power steering because it's too slow. Had major problems with this in the slaloms at autocross. It's very difficult to tell, but I think the ABS might be kicking in a bit during this cornering, because when the ABS fuse out, it didn't seem as heavy during those quick maneuvers.
- The clutch pedal has a strange delay during power shifting; it comes up about 200 milliseconds after you lift your foot off of it (that's 2/10 of a second BTW). Apparently this is caused by the slave cylinder's valve spring, which also creates clutch ‘slippage’ during quick power shifts. After the transmission and clutch were replaced, I decided to take that spring out. Soooo much better with it out, no more delay...
- The rear wiper is really needed... seems they only took it off on the 2006 models for looks. That's great, but it's needed! If I don't want it on, I can take it off!
- The radio antenna is annoying, I usually brush it with my arm accidentally when walking around the rear side of the car.
- The remote keyless entry system is slow to respond, especially to open the passenger side door. And there is no remote hatch open option either.
- Sunroof operation buttons are annoying, seems there is a ‘sweet spot’ to get it to work. Light pressure works fine, however if you press it firmly, it goes beyond the switch's range of response and doesn’t work.
- Rear glass makes annoying cracking/rattling sound when the temp is below freezing; worse the colder it is.
I'd list everything I like about it, but honestly there are too many. Obviously I like the car if I still have it after almost two years, and I take as many pictures of it as I do...
However, I will likely be selling soon so I can get the new Hyundai Genesis Coupe... RWD, 300+ HP, and all for under $30K baby! Woo!