The Mk.IV isn't much to look at, but it's a superb little car. It weighs in at less than a tonne, is surprisingly spacious, practical, economical, and a joy to drive.
The 1.25L Sigma (Zetec-SE) engine doesn't sound like much, but it packs 75HP and revs like a motorbike. Feels like the valve timing changes above 3250rpm, you can feel it take off in most gears!
The suspension and handling are amazing. Sharp steering, firm ride and a very flexible gearbox combine to make this thing a road-going go-kart. Throw it into corners at high speed, it just *handles* it, very stable. The steering is responsive and provides a surprising amount of feel; all the controls give you excellent feedback, and don't feel ridiculously light from power assistance.
The interior's plain and fairly dull, but very functional and flexible. The seats seem to be hard-wearing and firm, and are comfortable for long journeys. Remove the seat bench and you can fold the rear seats flat, giving a large load space. The boot's a respectable size, too. I managed to pack up my entire university life into this car in one go, with a large roof box as well, and it took it all, and drove fine!
It's a popular car, so it's cheap and reasonably easy to service yourself. Common things are fine, but there's not a lot of room to get around the engine. Also, the light bulbs generally require the lights to be taken out to change them.
Very quiet at idle and low speed, but the low weight is achieved by sacrificing insulation, so on a motorway cruise the road noise is quite loud. The engine handles cruising very nicely, will sit contently in the 3-4,000rpm range for hours.
This car weighs *nothing*, so the fuel consumption is very good, 40+mpg up to around 50, depending on how hard you push it. The electronic fuel injection helps in this regard. I get about 300 miles out of a tank before the light comes on, then another 80 miles out of the reserve.
Stock equipment is good; the LX gets air con, passenger airbag, traction control and ABS. Radio is nothing special, replaced it with a JVC head unit and parcel shelf 6x9s, the rear glass reflects the sound all around the cabin, and it sounds awesome! Fitted a cheap 4-sensor parking kit, too, which fits really well on this car, bumper is perfectly aligned and helps a lot.
Never had a problem starting it, drive train is built to last. Reliable, agile and very, very fun to drive. Love this car to pieces, I'll be keeping it on the road as long as I can!