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Best performance with manual transmission

Help! I am looking for a 4-door manual transmission car that offers excellent performance and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I like the look of the Golf GTI or Audi A3 but am concerned about the lack of size for a the family. Any suggestions would be most welcome? Thanks

You might search for a Lincoln LS with a manual trans. I was surprised to see one a while back. Luxury cars have large depreciation and a manual trans model would help that along.

It’s really a 5 door, but the Mazdaspeed 3 is an excellent choice. $25k will get you a nicely appointed model, brand new.

You might want to look at the new Focus ST as well, however if this is to be a family car, and you have more than one kid or plan to have more than one kid during the duration of your ownership, then I would consider something bigger.

I’ve owned almost every German car – BMW, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, Audi, Opel, etc. BMWs are by far the most reliable and fun to drive.

I’d recommend a 3 - 5 year old, one-owner, RWD BMW 3 or 5 Series sedan with a six cylinder engine and manual transmission. My current 328i sedan cost me 1/3 MSRP with 50,000 miles. I’m still driving it seven years (and 117,000 miles) later with only scheduled maintenance and replacement of wear components. It gets 22 mpg around town and 32 on the highway. Add four real winter tires if you live in snow country. My 328 never got stuck in 7 Colorado winters.

As with any used car, get a complete service history and a PPI.

How much is too much, and do you want a new or used car? A new Passat comes with a manual transmission in the S or SE trim. The Mazda 6 i-Sport also comes with a manual (6-spd). Both are mid-sized sedans.

Try one.

@dagosa; Thanks for the link. Not sure why I did not remember the Lamborghini:)

You need to define a few things. What is your budget? Are you looking for new or used? How big is the family? What do you mean by “excellent performance”?

I’ve been very happy with an '03 Honda Civic EX 4 dr I bought new 126K miles ago. So, I’d recommend you see if you can find a used or new Civic with a manual. I get 40 mpg on expressway trips, 35 mpg overall, and it corners great - so that is excellent performance in my book. If you need a larger car you can get a Ford Fusion with a manual transmission. Not easy to find, but there are a few out there.

If you like the VW and Audi but want a bit more room, I would take a hard look at a VW GLI. Big trunk, big backseat, same engine/transmission as the GTI and at ~$25K it’s the same price. The new Honda Accord and Ford Fusion manual transmissions are getting positive reviews as well, but the GLI is quicker.

None of those are four door cars except the pricey cadillac!

Another option would be an 06 or 07 Honda Accord V6 sedan. Those are very roomy and the only two years you could get a V6 sedan with a manual. You could get a loaded one for about $15k and still get decent gas mileage.

A second for @alust2013 suggestion but some added unsolicited thoughts on the subject…
I struggle with the idea of getting a less reliable car to get an automatic. In reality, there are many reliable choices with better performance with an auto in the hands of the average driver. If you want a 4 door with excellent performance and is reliable, don 't dismiss autos. It’s a financial disaster to do this trade off. If you like rowing a car, expand your search to the models I referenced that are two door also and cheaper compacts. The buying public has spoken…4 doors, choices and performance tend to coincide with automatics. We have to deal with that.

I have a 2011 Chevy Cruze ECO with a 6 speed stick that I’m VERY happy with. With the turbo, the engine (1.4L) has MORE than enough power to get just about anyone’s license yanked for life. The fit and finish is good, the seats are comfortable, it handles like it’s on rails, and I get around 40mpg average per tank. The best has been 46.3.

Depending on the size of your family, you’d do well to go test drive one. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find.

The Cruze ECO gets great gas mileage with the stick, but with the automatic, not so much.

Which is why I suggested it. the OP was interested in a car with a stick shift that’s fun to drive., the Cruze just may fill the bill, depending on the size of the family.

I would not be afraid to look at Mazda.