Comments, corrections to James (@aol.com) I've included links to web resources of these other cars so you can get an idea of what other clubs are doing. (You also soon realize there are a lot more Mustang/Eclipse/etc. owners than Probe owners!)
NEWS RUMOR 5Aug98: 1999 Mustangs
The new base V-6 Mustang performance numbers will net low 15 second quarter miles and low 90's trap speed w/ the manual - completely stock at 70F. Automatic Mustang GTs will be Low 6's, manuals high 5's. No more playing w/ the stangs. So be careful toying with the 99 Mustangs - just look for the really ugly new bodywork.
I let a friend of mine drive my car recently. I asked him after how he liked it and he said it was very exciting and in fact he was still shaking from the adrenaline. And this is no starry eyed kid but a 30+ year old married with kids. Apr98.
Quick, smaller, cheaper
Too many doors
I might also consider comparable as used cars, the 89+ Nissan 300ZX, 86-93 Toyota Supra, 3.0 Acura CL
It's a different matter entirely to consider cars like the Corvette, Lexus SC300, older Porsche 911 or 928, 944 Turbo, the Audi A4 2.8.
The MX-6 shares the chassis engine and drivetrain of the Probe GT and is (was!) built on the same assembly line in Flat Rock, MI. A loaded MX-6 V6 was about $5000 more than a Probe GT new, some of which was reflected in the much nicer leather seats. However, it is slighter smaller inside, is not a hatchback, and has smaller (205 vs. 225) tires and a softer suspension.
I drove a friend's 94 MX-6 V6 before I bought my PGT, and I was impressed with the smooth V6 and the high limits on a twisty road (Page Mill Road from Palo Alto). I actually think the slightly softer suspension would be faster than the Probe on all but pretty smooth roads.
I have found the styling, very fresh looking at first, to have faded in impact. (Remember the "time capsule" TV ads by Mazda for this car?) The Probe, on the other hand, continues to please. (well it sure pleases me!!)
Perhaps the only truly comparable car. It is almost the same price (I was offered a new 95 GSR for under $18K), has a normally aspirated, high output engine, is about the same size, and offers excellent handling.
In fact, it weighs about 250 lbs less than a PGT, makes 6 more hp (170hp) out of only 1.8 liters with a 8,100 RPM redline, and has the Acura reputation for quality, and gets much better gas mileage.
So why didn't I buy this car?
I wanted to want this car. But then I drove one. It was fast, but didn't _feel_ fast. It cornered well, but with a lot of body roll. The engine is the finest 4 cylinder I have ever experienced, but no power under 4000 RPM. The shifter was ok. It also really felt like a stretched Civic- kind of light and cheap. The sunroof opened only about 10 inches. And also it looked a little stubby to me in the 2 door version.
Some people liked the "go-kart"-go and tossible feel of this car, I prefered the beautiful V-6, styling and taut feel of the Probe GT.
One of the top three cars in SCCA G-Stock Solo II Autocross (the 93+ PGT, and the new 200hp V6 Camaro are the others)
Lots of aftermarket products for Hondas and Acuras in general.
The Integra owners have a good website at http://integra.ico.net/
There is an interesting discussion on Launching techniques: 94 GS-R vs 94 Probe GT at the bottom of that page.
A favorite quote I found: "Big blue bottles have found their way under many an Integra hatch, and the baggy-pants drivers don't seem to mind blowing up motors and drivetrains to punt domestic booties."
The GS-T is FWD, the GSX is AWD. I didn't drive the turbo version, only the 2.0 liter normally aspirated (the turbo was out of my price range). Radical looks, some love and some hate.
Gosh it's tiny inside. And the rear liftover is chest height it seemed. The 2.0 liter had adequate power but that's all. And I'm not buying any Chrysler built engine.
I did think the shifter was the best of the FWD cars, but the clutch seemed misplaced and had too long a throw.
I've heard there are some reliability problems with the GSX. Not surprising, as I had decided to stay away from turbos and 4WD cars for those reasons.
Here's an interesting site for the Diamond Star Cars: http://www.dsm.org/
Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports has a 96' PGT at 2900lbs and a 96' Eagle Talon/Mitsu Eclipse both tipping the scales at 3235lbs. The figure may even be higher since they tested the 2wd version in each model. 1st gen DSM/PGT also has a 200lb or so weight differential.
They wrote "It's fast enough, but it doesn't deliver the sporty handling of the Honda Prelude or Ford Probe".
I drove the 3.8V6 version as I didn't really want to feed a V8 either at the pump or the insurance bill. I was frankly shocked at the axle tramp (It has a live rear axle). Also the seat didn't go back far enough for me. The 3.8 liter feels more sluggish than a lot of 2.0 I-4's.
But I really didn't like the high cowl- I felt like I was in a bathtub, looking out over the rim. The interior seemed gimmicky and I could see getting tired of it in a few years.
And, of course, everybody, their brother and dentist has one of these.
Here's an entertaining review: http://www.thecarplace.com//mustang.htm
Here is a Cobra site: http://crunch.Colorado.EDU/~cobra/
Jan98: See my Test Drive of the 1998 Z28.
Update: 16Dec97, The 1998 Z28 now has 305hp, and the SS is 320hp. The headlights are no longer recessed- an improvement I think. I am planning to drive one this week. Interior was ok. Cheap as a loaded Z28 is under $25K.
285hp V8, about $20K for a Z28. The new 200hp V6 gets good reviews too.
Maybe great when new, but perhaps troublesome down the road. I don't like GM's interiors, generally. Cowl shake on the convertible is a problem.
These cars just didn't appeal to me.
The new 200hp V6 Camaro is the car to beat in SCCA G-Stock Solo II. Power, torque, RWD and huge stock tires help it beat the 94+ Integra GS-R and 93+ Probe GT. It's nearly as fast as the Mustang GT. (However, I think I heard that the G-Stock national champion this year (1997) was a MX-6)
Here's a Z28 site: http://svs.net/camaro/
I liked this car. I think I like the way it drove better than almost any car I've driven. Great, precise, RWD handling, great shifter, classy looks. The engine is the immortal Nissan 2.4 truck block with a multi-valve head for 155hp. Torquey but not a revver. Absolutely beautiful paint. Stunning reputation for reliability. Tiny inside, even tinyer trunk, 5.7 cu ft! Expensive, over $25K. And no V6, no thanks.
The previous version of the 240SX, 1989-1994, was probably a better match in character for the Probe GT, but they had the motorized seat belts (shudder) and no air bags, and only 140hp for 89-90 model years (155hp for 91-94). I believe in 1994 only a convertible was made.
This is often listed as a competitor to the Probe GT. Although the base price is similar, a properly equipped one is closer to $26K.
This might be fun to drive, and maybe it even handles better than the Probe GT, but its 138 hp 1.9 liter I-4 engine isn't enough to get me excited. I'll save up for the M3, thank you.
More expensive, slower, forgettable 138 hp 2.2 I-4. Not many Probe GT shoppers will want this car. Reputation for reliability is strongest suit. Small inside. Some like the looks.
Volkswagon puts the narrow-V 2.8 liter 172hp VR6 in many different cars. The Golf, the Jetta, the Passat. The GTI is the cheapest of them, and is closest to the Probe GT in price.
For my taste, this is one homely car, though. There have been questions about the quality of several different Volkswagen models recently.
Some have complained about excessive body roll.
Apr98 Well, one of the founding members of BaPOC is jumping ship from the PGT to a GTI VR6. So I'd better find some nice things to say!!
Jun98 - I got to drive Tammy's new GTI VR6, and I have to say that it is a really nice car, and the motor is awesome. Mind you, this car is not stock and looks great too. 11 inch discs up front (stock!) work very well.
The feel of the car is quite different. The steering is light and precise, the ride firm but not jarring (this car was lowered). I floored it in 2nd, looked down at the tach thinking I must be near redline, but it was only 3K!!! What a huge and flat torque band.
Tammy misses her PGT and needed to drive my PGT. She mentioned that although she likes the GTI a lot, it doesn't give the same "one with the road" feeling the PGT has.
Bay Area Probe Owners Club Website