What Car Should You BuyThe experts at Jalopnik answer your car-buying questions.  

Spence has a very cool mom who likes some very cool cars. Unfortunately, her Audi S8 with the awesome V10 motor met the fate that most Audis do when they hit a certain age, so it’s time for a new ride. He is having trouble pointing her in the right direction and needs our help. What car should she buy?

(Welcome back to What Car Should You Buy? Where we give real people real advice about buying cars. )

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Here is the scenario:

My poor mother. Her 2008 Audi S8 5.2 (V10, fun), somehow managed to break a spark plug off in a cylinder, while running, and trash it. The repair costs are prohibitive. So she needs a new ride.

Preferably something fun, classy like the S8, and appropriate for a 70+ woman. Who also carts a dog around town from time to time. I tried selling her on the same car I’m driving, the excellent Buick Regal TourX, but she doesn’t seem interested. She has a budget up to $50,000. What could I steer her towards?

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Quick Facts:

Budget: up to $50,000

Daily Driver: Yes

Location: San Francisco, CA

Wants: Fast, comfortable, and classy

Doesn’t want: Another maintenance nightmare

Expert 1: Tom McParland - This Is Why They Make Fast SUVs

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First of all Spence, good for you for helping your mom out on this one. She obviously has great taste in automobiles. That’s too bad about the V10 S8. Those are fantastic cars, but they can get pricey as the miles pile up.

Considering her needs, I’m going to suggest some kind of SUV since it’s a bit easier to get in and out of compared to a sedan that sits lower to the ground. Now she obviously wants something with some speed, and few cars combine power and comfort better than a Mercedes AMG.

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What she needs is an ML63 AMG as she will get all the comforts and space of a mid-size crossover, but under the hood will be a snarling twin-turbo V8 that she can unleash at her will. Finding well-sorted examples will require casting a wide net, but here is a low-mile 2015 at a Porsche dealer in Oklahoma. It’s painted in a very classy Designo White metallic and has plenty of room for the pup.

Expert 2: David Tracy - Appreciates Mechanical Simplicity

Photo: David Tracy

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For someone based in a major city in California, who wants something that offers good performance and comfort, who has no desire to deal with maintenance bullshit like broken off spark plugs (seriously, that’s an absurd failure that simply should not happen), and who has $50 large to work with, I think the Tesla Model 3 is the play.

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The simplicity of the powertrain and drivetrain alone makes it worth considering. Your mom won’t have to deal with oil changes, spark plug failures, fuel pump issues, transmission problems, or any of a number of weaknesses that ICE cars can exhibit. EVs can still break, of course, and their electronics can be quite complex, but due to their mechanical simplicity, they promise significantly lower overall maintenance and repair costs than gas cars. And that’s a major draw for folks who loath getting huge bills from mechanics every few months.

But of course, if I were just suggesting a car with a propensity to keep driving without issues, I’d recommend a Toyota Corolla. But no, in addition to promising good reliability and low maintenance, the Model 3 offers good performance. It’s thoroughly quick, and though I wouldn’t call it particularly engaging to drive—and it definitely won’t sound as good as a V10 Audi S8—the way the thing accelerates can be quite a bit of fun.

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And on top of that, the Model 3 is just elegant, and it’s quiet and comfortable, and hey, since your mom lives in California, I bet she wouldn’t have too much trouble finding chargers.

Expert 3: Jason Torchinsky - She’s Your Mom, So Find Her Something Special

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These other suggestions are fine and would likely serve your mom well, but they’re just going to get lost in the crowd where you mom lives. A Tesla Model 3 in the Bay Area? Come on, your mom deserves better than to just melt into that tech-bro douchebaggery. Your have a 70+ year old mom who wants a fast, fun car—that’s a special lady, and she deserves something special. Like a Mazda Eunos Cosmo.

You want fast, fun, and classy? If you’re also willing to add fascinating and unusual to that list, then a Eunos Cosmo is perfect. It still looks incredible, with great proportions and that clean-lined ‘90s-era optimism and an interior that feels like the bridge of the Next Generation USS Enterprise.

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It’s got a butter-smooth triple-rotor Wankel engine so she doesn’t have to worry about any pesky pistons, makes a solid 300 horsepower and with almost as many pound-feet of torque, so it’s plenty quick for mom.

Comfortable, fast, classy as hell, unique, striking—what more would your mom want from a car? This red beauty is just $15,893 from our pal Gary Duncan, so if you’re worried about maintenance or repair costs, remember you’re spending nearly $35,000 less than you’ve planned.

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Oh, and if you think this is just Torch being his usual idiotic self, please let me share a quote from our rational editor-in-chieftain, Patrick George, about this very car, which he drove down at Duncan Imports:

“We drove one, it was amazing. Car’s fucking incredible.”

See?

Your mom will feel like a space-queen in this thing. Every woman deserves to feel that way at some point, right?

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Expert 4: Patrick George - Good Sedan, F Yeah

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I forgot the Audi S8 used to have the V10 engine! Man, I’m having waking nightmares just thinking of the repair bills on that thing.

There are some good suggestions from my staff here (for a change) but since your mom was happy with a big sedan for so long, I have trouble recommending she join the ever-growing cult of SUV owners. Another big sedan may do the trick just fine, and since she likes power and reliability, I think I have a solid answer. How about a Lexus GS F?

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These things are pretty obscure and they’re definitely under the radar compared to the sea of AMGs and M-cars out there. But with a 467 horsepower naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8—that’s more power than her Audi’s V10 made, by the way—and Lexus’ reputation for quality, she’ll have all the speed she wants with far fewer headaches.

Here’s a CPO example near her for a little under $54,000. It only has 35,000 miles on it, too. There are others out there for under 50 grand if she desires. I’d go CPO just to give her that extra peace of mind, but I’d be far less worried about long-term quality in this than any German competitor.

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Your mom may be in her 70s and driving a Lexus, but that doesn’t mean she can’t show unsuspecting fools how to dance when the traffic signal turns green.

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