Reliant Kitten Reviews from UK and Ireland

1980 Reliant Kitten DL 850cc Saloon

Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership1980
Most recent year of ownership2002
Engine and transmission 850cc Saloon Manual
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Dealer Service marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.8 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance115000 miles
Previous carReliant Kitten

Summary:

An absolute world beater!!!

Faults:

No major problems, just the occasional replacement of parts due to wear - which you've got to expect on owning a car for 22 years!

Head gaskets tend to 'seep' a little and need replacing about every 6 years (this, I suspect, is due to the fact that you can't put a high torque on the head nuts because of the engine being made of aluminium)

General Comments:

Quite a surprising performance considering the tiny engine, but this is, no doubt, due to the very light nature of the car (fibre-glass body and aluminium engine). This same feature accounts for the very long life on many components - brake pads, clutch, tyres, etc.; and also the incredible fuel economy. MPGs of between 50 - 60 are the norm on long runs.

The vehicle is also surprisingly comfortable for a supposed 'budget' car, and while the seating in the front does not feel too spacious, I love the driving position, with all the controls feeling so close at hand. I always had the feeling that I was in the cockpit of a small aeroplane - magic! The beautiful short-movement 'clicky' gear lever, is a delight to operate - feels so positive. Steering is also very positive - you feel in total control!

The car's tiny turning circle is astonishing - with the vehicle almost revolving on the spot: parking is a cinch, and 'three-point-turns' become virtually extinct!

One gripe: the cars are notorious for having water dripping in all over the place. It doesn't cause any major problems due to the fibre-glass body, but it is a little disappointing to have the carpets constantly wet (well, almost), and water would occasionally run from the boot to the underpart of the rear seat, making it wet and unusable without a plastic sheet to cover it.

My car was still in excellent condition after 22 years of ownership, the engine running as smoothly as the day it came out of the factory - and still didn't touch a drop of oil (115,000 miles on!). It only came to its end when some idiot ran into it, and 'wrote it off'. A very sad loss!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th February, 2003

1980 Reliant Kitten DL Estate 0.85 petrol

Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership1999
Most recent year of ownership2001
Engine and transmission 0.85 petrol Manual
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.0 / 10
Distance when acquired41000 miles
Most recent distance47000 miles
Previous carReliant Regal

Summary:

A long-lasting, fun, city car

Faults:

The GRP body, steel chassis and the interior trim were perfect, but the previous owner had bodged his own Reliant engine together from various other units, thus giving me a lot of headaches and ending up with more problems than there would otherwise have been. Nevertheless, even with a slightly dodgy engine I am still getting an average of about 60 miles to the gallon which can't be bad.

The turning circle of 23 feet is the most amazing feature of the car, but if you use this to its fullest as I tend to (it's great to be able to do U-turns on roads too narrow for any other cars to do the same. I was once in a traffic jam and decided to turn round and take a short cut; in the Kitten I just turned through 180 degrees with no trouble but the Mercedes S-Class behind me, on trying the same trick, ended up blocking the traffic and needing a five-point turn to achieve what the Kitten had done in one go), it does tend to wear out the steering rack pretty quickly and they aren't cheap to have reconditioned.

General Comments:

The Kitten is front engined and rear-wheel drive, unusually for a small car, and this makes it feel very much like a sports-car to drive. You sit very low to the ground and the power-to-weight ratio is in the order of 90 bhp per ton which is not bad for such an economical car.

The body is rustproof GRP and thus even though it is over twenty years old, with a bit of polish it can look brand new.

The side-opening rear door is not quite as practical as a hatchback, but the boxy body shape means 40 cubic fee of space behind the front seats which is better than many 'family' cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th January, 2001

1976 Reliant Kitten Estate 0.85 petrol

Year of manufacture1976
Engine and transmission 0.85 petrol
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 6 / 10
Dealer Service marks 5 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.4 / 10

Faults:

Some parts are hard to get (lower balljoints).

General Comments:

Great small city car!

Turning circle of only 7 meters! Smallest ever!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th April, 1998

Average review marks: 8.1 / 10, based on 3 reviews