I've ordered a C30 R-Design, but it's not due to arrive until May.
My current car is a 2005 Saab 9-2X Linear. This is the "Saabaru," the car that was a rebadged Subaru Impreza from the time when GM owned Saab and also a 40% stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, Subaru's parent company. As a naturally aspirated car, there's not much to be done for power without ridiculous expense, so it's only got a header and muffler. I've remapped the drive-by-wire throttle response curve using RomRaider, but that's about it. The suspension is another story though:
- I've replaced wheels, tires, springs, struts, and sway bars.
- I've added bracing.
- I've upgraded the transmission mount and torque stay (GroupN) and some of the suspension bushings.
- I've changed to STI aluminum sedan lower control arms in the front (wider track, more caster)
- I've upgraded to WRX front brakes and "H6" rear brakes, all with Hawk HPS pads
- i installed a short-shofter and stiffer shofter bushings
There's some other miscellany that I'm forgetting, but the end result is that is handles quite well. I've had it out at the track (Sears Point) with NASA. One of the instructors, a Miata time-trialler, commented on how well it handled. I was really pleased to hear that from someone whose handling standards are highly calibrated. Here's a picture from the first time I took it out:
I've also had:
- 1966 Volvo 122S
- 1965 Mustang
- 1970 Saab 99
- 1972 Saab 99
- 1973 Ford Thuunderbird (we cut the roof off to go to the beach one summer)
- 1978 Saab 99 Turbo
- A bunch of motorcycles. The pick of the littter, an MV Agusta F4 312R.
Since you mentioned it, the car had to look good. Check. Bonus points for not looking like a boy-racer car.
I was looking for smaller than what I've got, since mostly it's just me, commuting. Check.
I wanted more power. My current car makes at crank what my bike does at the back wheel. Check.
I wanted handling. The R-Design handles well: Not quite as well as my Linear currently does, but much better than the Linear started out. I can work with this. Check.
I wanted a three-door. I'm tall enough that most five-door models have the B-pillar right beside my head. I don't like the shoulder harness mouint being ahead of my shoulder. We're good here. Check.
Seats are comfortable, with better lateral support than what I've got. Check.
I didn't want to *completely* lose utility. This is not particularly good at carrying stuff. Can't check that box. We'll call it marginal, at best. I'd have thrown utility completely out the window it the power and handling were good enough, but cars in that realm ... well, on to the last point.
Value. Some of the other cars I considered were significantly more money.
What I'm giving up:
The utility. I can fit a lot of stuff in the back. Subaru doesn't produce a real wagon on the Impreza chassis any more, and I don't like the newest wagons on the Legacy chassis. Best looking was a couple of years ago. Newest looks too boxy.
Back seat room. I never sit back there, so it's not that *I* am giving that up. Sorry, passengers.
AWD. It's nice. At an HPDE at Sears Point, in pouring rain, I was passing Porsches and Corvettes like they were stopped for a picnic. Once it dried it was a different story, but it is nice. If the C30 came in AWD, I'm not sure I'd go for it though. Power loss when driving all four wheels is greater, and I'm not so sure about the Haldex system. I don't think it's worse than what I've got, since it's got open diffs at both ends, but I was considering a WRX LSD for the back. Anyway, no more mods for that car.
Probably more answer than anyone cares about, but that's the bulk of it.
I considered Volkswagen, but not for very long. I don't find them to particlaurly good looking (not all of my criteria are logical - some are shallow and superficial) and have heard too many stories of unreliability of vehicles from VAG. They're probably unfair, but I tend to keep things for the long haul, so I can't say it wasn't a concern.
Don't laugh, traded in an '07 S60R on my 2010 "r design". The S60 hurt my teeth the ride was so hard [even on "comfort" setting]. The C30 handles better, and after a software upgrade [Polestar thru Volvo]. Eurosport exhaust and some tuning, I have a rocketship more capable than the S60 R. Oh, and 26 mpg.
I traded an 04 CTS for my C30. I had an 03 SAAB 9-3 before the CTS. The SAAB was not a very reliable car--I had to get rid of it. The CTS was a decent car but drank gas. So far I really like the C30--it is quick gets decent milage(compared to the CTS) and has been trouble free.