Volvo S40 T5 – The Perfect Car For The Driver Who Wants A Manual

In the car community, having a car with a stick or being capable of driving a manual car, is an added bonus to show your knowledge and legitimacy as a car enthusiast. Often we discuss what car with a manual transmission would be perfect to learn and or own. The Mazda Miata is always brought up for many reasons, including the fact that it’s essentially a street legal go-kart which gives drivers the sensation of being connected to the road. There are many other candidates, but one that is never mentioned nor given credit as being a fun car is the Volvo S40 T5.

I know what you’re thinking, but much like the C30, the S40 can be fun to drive, and in fact could be the perfect car to learn how to drive a stick. Many S40 owners complain about the close proximity between the brake and gas pedals, as you’ll most likely accidentally tap on of them. This dilemma actually brings up the perfect opportunity to start heel-toeing, which will make you a better driver and help train you to shift through the gears smoother. The S40 T5 has other benefits as well, including performance and modification capabilities.

With a turbocharged 5 cylinder engine producing around 227 horsepower, you’re going to have a decent car right off the bat. It won’t beat a fully stock MazdaSpeed3 but you’ll have more horsepower than a stock Volkswagen GTI. This now leads up to modifications, and here are just a few S40s that are out there where the owners brought the Swedish sedan to the next level.

You can also go with body kits from Heico to add a more sporty appeal to the S40

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Overall the S40 is a great car to start out with, whether to daily drive or learn how to drive a manual. It’s a safe car, the interior is cozy, and the seats are absolutely comfortable. Perfect for the driver who also wants to step into the entry level luxury segment. Despite not being a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes Benz, it’s definitely an alternative if you don’t want to buy a Japanese car, but with that does come costs at the repair shop.

Right now you can find S40 T5s around $5k – $6k. If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an S40 T5 R-Design don’t pass it up. Not only are they rare to come by these days, but you get some added goodies in terms of aesthetics. They’re also holding their value slightly better and can be purchased for around $12k.

Most importantly, you’ll have a novelty car. Not many S40 T5’s are out there on the roads, let alone a modified one. It’s safe to say that at a local car meet, you’ll have the only S40, but it will be unique which just adds to the appeal and the whole package of owning one.

The Poor Man’s Exotic: Lotus Evora

Lotus Evoras
DryHeatPanzer via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Exotics are often very rare, high performance sports cars that grab the attention of fellow drivers and pedestrians. These cars often grab a lot of attention, with many people either taking photos or approaching the owners if they’re nearby, asking them how much the car cost and complementing them on their choice of a supercar. But there are often many sports cars that are below $100,000 that usually fly under the radar, some of which have a presence of being a six figure exotic, and to the average person on the street, the Lotus Evora is one of those cars.

A car manufacturer that in my opinion is extremely underrated, Lotus is often forgotten and left in the shadows behind Jaguar and Aston Martin. The small car brand is a diamond in the rough, and because of that, the Evora comes in at a great price, offering performance and an appearance of being exotic. Currently, Lotus hasn’t brought any new models to the United States, but plan to return near 2020. In the meantime, there are 2010-2014 models on the market that have either never been driven, or well taken car of by previous owners.

Starting with price, you can find a 2013 Evora for $54,500 and almost brand new 2014 models for just under $80,000. With those prices, that’s right in line with the Alfa Romeo 4C, Porsche Boxster and Cayman. In terms of rarity, the Evora is more like the 4C, and because of its scarcity, you’re going to turn heads when driving through the center of town. However, your car’s fans will not be seeing much of you at the gas station. Unlike exotics, the Evora receives a combined 30 mpg. To put that into perspective, you’re getting better gas mileage than a Volvo. So your car may be less safe, but it’s more fun to drive and less stress on your wallet.

Performance-wise, the Evora comes standard with 276 horsepower, powered by a Toyota 3.5 liter V-6. Most of the remaining Evoras on the market come with 345 horsepower, and are usually the S 2+2 trim. 0-60 times are around 4.4 seconds, which is similar to the Alfa Romeo 4C’s 4.1. The main reason why the Lotus is slower than others in its class is because it’s heavier, but that certainly doesn’t limit the Evora’s overall performance.

The Evora is one of the more under-appreciated cars on the market. However, on the road that’s a completely different story. While you’ll have to look around for a dealership that has one, and may have to travel 200+ miles, it’s well worth the trip. These cars will not break the bank, and ask any owner, the Evora was definitely worth the price.

The Poor Man’s Exotic: Alfa Romeo 4C

Alfa Romeo 4C
Alfa Romeo 4C

It’s 2016, and what better way to kick off the new year than to start a series about exotics, or rarer cars that you don’t see on the road that frequently, and that won’t break the bank if you decided to purchase one. This won’t be a series that starts out by saying, “Why pay $100,000+ on this exotic, when you should get this sports car for half the cost?”. With car season a few months away up here in New England, it will be a good time to look at alternatives that can offer the same amount of fun and exhilaration while you save up and work towards your dream supercar.

Since its arrival to US shores, the Alfa Romeo 4C has captivated the hearts and souls of many car enthusiasts across the country. An Italian masterpiece, made with a carbon fiber chassis, F1 inspired, super lightweight sports car that grips the road as if it were magnetized to the pavement, gives you the sense that it is in fact a supercar. With a 0-60 time of 4.1 seconds, this four cylinder packs a punch. While the 4C only has 237 hp, its lightness and torque makes up for its relatively low horsepower, statistically speaking.

However, what turns heads is the 4C’s appearance. An incredibly beautiful car, and one might goes as far as to call it sexy, is what’s drawing the attention of everyone on the streets. Alfa Romeo’s first car of hopefully many in the company’s return to America is still rare, as only 55 4C’s were sold per month on average in 2015.

A price tag of $65,000 for the base model and close to $80,000 for the top of the line trim and spider variant is about $20,000 – $35,000 cheaper than a 10 year old Lamborghini Gallardo that was well taken care of by the previous owner. The 4C will also be an alternative to a Porsche Carrera.

Now again, as I stated before, this isn’t an argument based on finding an exotic that makes more sense financially, and possibly in terms of enjoyment, but an article that’s bringing awareness to the fact that there are options out there where you can find an awesome car priced below $100,000.