22nd Jul 2010, 21:26

Well, I have had mine since early 2001 and have done 235,000 km in Australia in it, both country and town driving. And averaged 53 mpg over all of that. Contrary to received wisdom, to me it's actually better on highways than around town - none of that stop-start-stop business, just cruise along at the speed limit. It's a perfectly reasonable car as long as you accept it for what it is: a small, cheap, modern car.

I'm still on the original clutch (although it is getting close to needing a change) and exhaust system, have used (I think) 4 sets of tyres, have replace the front suspension struts and the battery once, and most importantly, had it serviced regularly as per manufacturer's schedule. It even survived some fool running into the back of it when I was waiting at a stop line (my fault for being un-Australian and obeying road rules, I suppose?). I would have another quite happily, but they are no longer on sale here, and I'm not sure I want the larger-engined Chevrolet version.

The dealer service in Australia was appalling - I suppose that as it was $10,000 new, with three years servicing included, that they felt it wouldn't make them any money and were not interested.

BUT: now comes the crunch. Cylinder head blown last week and I am now waiting to see if it is worth repairing. I have a suspicion that the servicing wasn't up to scratch, despite my best efforts - I reported a possible coolant loss at the last service, but this seemed to be overlooked. I won't make the same mistake again - if I keep the car I will service it myself. So it has finally let me down: nearly 10 years and almost 150,000 miles in old money. Not bad, not bad at all.