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Daily drivers that won’t bore you to death

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We’re back with a question on the daily driver. Do they need to be the automotive equivalent of lukewarm oatmeal?

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Question

Hi Mike. I love reading the articles! My question is about your recent 530i review. You seemed to like it, but isn’t a car like that “anti-soul”? 

I’m looking for a daily driver myself, so can you tell me what you think might make a few good ones?

– Jeff

Answer

Jeff, as I explained in that article, the 530i is basically an appliance (but a very good one). I used to drive very far to work each day (120 miles round trip), and the 328i I had was perfect.The 530i is comfortable, unassuming, and capable. I like Metallica, but I don’t always want to listen to them.

The Stinger and 335i that replaced it were both much more fun, but what good is a daily that doesn’t always work?

Before I go any further, in theory, a G80 M3 with M xDrive (wagon) would be the absolute perfect daily if money were no object, and if you’re in a financial position to do so, you’d be very happy with one because it does everything well and will start in the morning.

Bur what if we still want some fun on our daily drives? And what if you don’t want to daily a $100,000 car? Hmmm…

Daily driver rules

I don’t know Jeff’s budget, and it’s easy to spend other people’s money, but since these are the cars I’d buy I guess I get to make the rules. So lets make ’em:

  • New cars only
  • Priced under $70,000
  • Must have good reputation – sorry Kia Stinger and Alfa Romeo

Annnd, that’s all. I think I can find a few surprises for you.

Not boring daily driver – $30k max

Civic-Si
It’s simple, and this might be all you need. Photo: Honda

$29,100 – that’s the price of a new Honda Civic Si. Have you seen the inside of one of these? Why even step foot in an Acura store?

For this, you get a 200-horsepower engine (turbocharged!), six-speed manual, and a limited slip diff in the front. Do you want an automatic daily? I’m sure Consumer Reports has a car for you.

There are zero options – the car just comes with everything you need, making it a really nice performance bargain. This is not a fast car, but it will be agile, comfortable and versatile. And I trust Honda build quality over that of a WRX.

Not boring daily driver – $45k max

BMW M240i
A 230i might work well, but an M240i is just a bit more.

If I could go back in time, I’d probably spec my 328i differently. Maybe closer to the car I’m about to reveal.

If you’re like me, you might want your garage to match. To do that, we need a BMW. Specifically, a cheap BMW. But a fun one…

Meet the 230i sDrive. Spec it with the Convenience Package and M Sport Package, which are requirements for the all-important Dynamic Handling package. A limited-slip differential, M Sport Brakes, a firmer suspension and larger wheels also come with. All this for $43k and change.

Now I say all this, but we’re still bare bones at this price. No Shadowline extended trim, Parking Package, Alpine White, sunroof, etc. Will you miss it? Beats me, because you’ll be in one of BMW’s most nimble, practical cars they currently make.

Yes, you can grab an M240i for $49,700, a $7k jump, but that’s with zero options. Just throwing it out there though. 382 horsepower is hard to resist.

Not boring daily driver – $60k max

Q50-red-sport
Hear me out…Photo: Infiniti

Let’s say..hold on, I need to psych myself up to type this.

Ok, let’s say you are a power junkie. You need at least 400 horses. Fine. How about..here’s the hard part…

An Infiniti Q50 Red Sport?

Wait, wait now hold on – hear me out. At $56,000, you could do worse. An M340i is a better car, but you want to tell everyone you have 400 horsepower. An Acura TLX certainly looks better – good luck finding one at this price (and again, with less power). That VR motor is harsh, but it does pack a punch, and I bet an Infiniti dealer will give you a decent deal on one because they don’t sell many cars nowadays. A Red Sport at $52,000? Yea, maybe.

This car is 11 years old, has only 7 speeds in it gearbox, and looks like a G35 inside. But it’ll get you to where you need to be daily quickly.

Not boring daily driver – $70k max

The CT4-V Blackwing
I love its big bro. Photo: Cadillac

Last one. What if we wanted M3 performance – so far, no car on here would even come close.

And you want four doors? No coupes.

Well, if I may – you want a CT-4 V Blackwing, don’t you?

I loved the CT-5 V, and for $62,890 as a base price, you have plenty of room for options. That’s with a six-speed manual too. It isn’t as refined as an M3, especially in the engine department, but it’s just as fast and possibly even more fun. Just depends on if you can get past the badge. If you keep the options down and the price significantly under the $70k mark, you’ll have M3 thrills without M3 price. And I don’t mean “sort of” M3 – the CT-4 will keep up with it anywhere.

Bonus: Kinda boring daily driver – The BMW i4 eDrive35

BMW i4
What? You could do worse. And right now, it’s cheap.

That’s a handful to type. Anyway, it might surprise you to find an electric car on this list, but there’s a problem with them – they aren’t selling. That means good deals.

Right now, BMW is offering a $499 lease on an eDrive35. Sure, it’s not the big M50i, but it’ll still handle well thanks to the weight being on the floor. A comparable lease on a 430i Grand Coupe is over $600 a month, and you never have to put gas in the 35 or pay for maintenance.

And for just $1,400, you can add the Dynamic Handling Package with variable sport steering (anything will help these dummies), and dynamic dampers. Won’t add much to the monthly statement.

So Jeff, hopefully this helps. Not a single 530i among them.

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