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Which small car to buy

I'M LOOKING for a smallish four-cylinder automatic sedan in the sub-$25,000 range. I was initially going for a five or six-year-old BMW 318i or Mercedes C180 because I prefer rear-wheel drive, but lately I have found late-model Mazda 3s, Subaru Imprezas and even the new Lancer attractive. With the exception of the Subaru, should front-wheel drive bother me that much? And all things weighed up, do any of these stand out as a better buy?

LIKE you, I prefer rear-wheel-drive cars for the way they drive and feel on the road. I'm also in favour of buying used BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes because you get to drive a better car than you might otherwise be able to afford, but they can be expensive to service and repair. For that reason I am loathe to recommend them. But I also agree that some of the cars coming from Japan look good, and I particularly like the new Lancer. I wouldn't be concerned about front-wheel drive at all, there's nothing wrong with the way they drive, handle, steer or brake.

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Complete guide to Mercedes-Benz C180 2003
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