A challenger approaches. Time for a competition, a face-off betwixt two cars -- and who doesn't love a good competition? Imagine for a minute that you have a budget of $4k and are looking for a 5-passegner, manual transmission, modern sedan with a silver exterior. In one corner we have a 2003 Saab 9-3 Arc offered for $3,800 in Rocky Point, NY and in the other corner we have a 2004 Mazda 6S offered for $3,800 in Tulsa, OK.
And yes, in case you were wondering, silver/grey is the best paint color for a family driver because
it hides dirt, dust, grime, & bird poo like no other color. On to the cars. First is the Saab 9-3 which does come from the GM era at Saab, and is built on the Epsilon platform shared with the Fiat Croma, Saturn Aura, Chevy Malibu, Opel Vectra/Signa -- however, this is not just another GM penalty box. The 9-3 Arc is powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-banger that pushes 210 horsepower and 221 ft-lbs of torque into a 6-speed manual gearbox. This one does have some issues that the seller freely discloses -- needs O2 sensor, oil pressure sensor replacement, clutch pedal return spring, some broken interior bits -- but it would be a cool ride once sorted.
The Mazda 6 is also offered with a clutch pedal, but you only get 5 gears instead of 6. However, it does have the optional Duratec V6. The seller mentions something about a Ford Fusion engine swap, but they were both built on the Mazda GG platform, so the form/function/fit should be identical. Either way, with 220 horsepower and 205 ft-lbs of torque the 6 should offer a decent quantity of zoom-zoom.
Which would you pick? Comments below.