Cars we feel are best avoided. Part one of four.
This little Jeep was dreadful to drive. The standard 2-liter engine is sluggish with the automatic, while the 2.4 offers a bit more oomph off the line. Interior plastics were cheap feeling and the overall package the Compass offers isn’t compelling enough in our eyes. Unless you get one of these heavily discounted, you’re better off paying extra for its much better rivals. We highly suggest looking elsewhere.
Nissan prides itself in having the most inexpensive new car you can buy with the biggest rear seat in class. We do applaud Nissan for the roomy rear seat and low running costs, but those two features don’t really make up for how unappealing the styling of the Versa is. The 1.6 offers decent pace around town but you’ll struggle with it on faster paced roads. The standard trim offers an antiquated four-speed automatic and the higher trims don’t even feel worth the price tag. Paying more than $16k for is a false economy.
The Smart Fortwo actually isn’t a bad concept. A small two-seat vehicle with dent resistant body panels for tight urban areas. We really do like that idea, but the execution of the car is appalling even for standards set by Mercedes. The gearbox is the biggest let down. Up shifts are woefully slow and jerky unless you ease your foot off the accelerator pedal between each shift. Ride comfort is firm due to the small wheelbase and yet the handling is sloppy if you push it anywhere near its limits. Running costs aren’t low either because the engine requires premium fuel. We strongly suggest waiting for the next generation Fortwo which will get a proper gearbox and hopefully a smoother ride.
We have nothing against the idea of a cheap BMW. In fact we love the idea of a cheap BMW but not when it comes in the package of a 320i. It’s not the engine that we dread because it’s smooth and flexible with decent running costs. It’s the standard kit list which disappoints. Bluetooth doesn’t even come standard. You’ll have to pay extra to remove the halogen headlights and of course it doesn’t come standard with real leather. Driving this without the adaptive M suspension is disappointing too and that option isn’t cheap either. Plus you’ll want to leave the stop/start system off because there is no smooth transition when the engine reengages. Unless you have to have the BMW badge we strongly suggest looking at its indirect rivals first because you get more money for similar money and maybe even less.