We’re strong advocates of splitting your fun cars and your everyday cars, but for some people this isn’t always an option. If that’s the case for you, read on...
The idea of trying to combine your weekend car and your daily is something that we have found doesn’t work in the best of ways. The problem stems from the fact that by nature, the objectives for an everyday car are vastly different from that of a weekend car or a project car. Everyday cars need to be reliable, fuel efficient, cheap to run, practical, and generally easy to drive.
On the other hand, a weekend car just needs to provide driving pleasure. You don’t need to worry about carrying more than one passenger, and you don’t even need to worry about how fast you burn through wear and tear items because it’s not something you will be driving as often. This is why we believe in splitting the duties of a weekend car and an everyday car – but alas, some people don’t have the option or space. If you could have one, these are our picks at various price points.
Suzuki Swift Sport ZC32S - prices starting from RM 59,800
This has got to be on our list for one of the cheaper fun cars that can still very much function as an everyday machine. The Swift Sport is a wonderful little warm hatch that is easy to drive on the limit, but still perfectly docile and livable on a day-to-day basis. The engine isn’t much of a gas guzzler if you drive it like a normal car, but push it hard and you will be rewarded with reasonable performance. The six speed manual gearbox is also a joy to use, with a well weighted clutch and a slick gearshift.
Toyota Altezza RS200 - prices starting from RM 35,000
A slightly older option than the Swift Sport is the Altezza RS200 –a car that was designed to fight the BMW 3 Series of the time, and the most potent variant available. While performance figures are adequate for a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine, it is the weight of the car that tends to let it down on the acceleration front. That being said, the chassis balance and handling are impeccable due to the suspension design, and it is more than capable of ferrying four occupants in comfort.
BMW E36 325i - prices starting from RM 9,800
The prices for these cars are lower than ever, and if you’re lucky you can even snag a manual example for under RM 10,000. These are a slightly more potent alternative to the Toyota Altezza RS200, and probably the cheapest way to experience the joys of an inline-six cylinder engine. The 325i is just one of the more common powertrains available – go as large as a 328i if you want a little more torque and power.
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk7 - prices starting from RM 106,800
We’re finally reaching the point where the Volkswagen Golf GTIs are coming down in price in the second hand market and becoming more accessible. The seventh generation model marked a huge improvement in ride and handling from the sixth generation, and they are perfectly usable as both every day cars and weekend drive machines. Running costs aren’t astronomical either if you keep them well serviced and avoid trying to push absurd power.
Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TSI - prices starting from RM 29,500
We know the Tiguan Allspace just came out – with some pretty attractive pricing too – but spare a thought for the first generation Tiguan models that made it to Malaysia, packing the 2.0 TSI powertrain. These compact SUVs are the perfect wolves in sheep's clothing, with plenty of performance and potential, but a package that offers greater comfort, practicality, and functionality than a Golf GTI.
BMW F30 328i - prices starting from RM 83,200
You might wonder why we’ve gone straight from the E36 to the F30, and the answer is simple – the F30 is the first of the BMW 3 Series models that comes with a fast responding, enjoyable automatic gearbox. The automatic units in previous generations of the 3 Series were slower to respond and a lot less enjoyable than a manual, but finding a manual E46 or E90 3 Series can be practically impossible. As for why we pick the 328i, it’s simply the best balance of performance and affordability.
We know there are plenty of other options that should be on the list, but these six options alone carry a fairly broad range of tastes and requirements you might have for a car. If you have your own picks, let us know in the comments!