Although the car looks bland and unexciting, the bland looks mask a competent car. It handles predictably and the performance from the 1.4 16v engine may not be earth-shattering by any means, but can keep up with traffic although downchanges are often needed. The engine is nippy around town and the light power steering makes parking a one-handed doddle, but out of town the engine suddenly doesn't feel as fast and struggles to keep up, especially on inclines.
The engine is coarse above 4,000rpm and the level of road noise is frankly awful, as one has to raise one's voice to be heard at speed.
The car is parked outside every night and the car has started first time, every time, even in -10C.
The seats are not uncomfortable as such, but you do feel tired after a long journey.
The cabin is well laid out and all the switches fall easily to hand. The lack of cup holders sometimes proves frustrating.
The reliability of the car has simply been outstanding. Since I got the car in January 2001, I have travelled nearly 23,000 miles and there hasn't been even as much as a rattle from the car.
If I were to change the car tomorrow, I'd probably buy one of the last old shape Almeras, built in 1999, in GTi spec. I'm definitely an Almera fan and the GTi looks great and the engine must be a scorcher, but I would definitely need ABS as the brakes do not always inspire confidence.