This car has been in my family since new. My father ran it for 3 years and I have for the remaining 4 years.
The car was pre-registered with 5 miles on and cost £10,500 new and is probably worth about £1000 now with 100,000 miles.
The 1.4 litre engine is quite perky around town and adequate for the car. It is certainly better than the 1.6 8v engine in the equivalent VW Golf. Most of the power is at the high end of the rev range, but it is easy to access as the engine revs freely. On the motorway it is fine up to the legal limit. Exceed that however, and it starts to get quite noisy. There also seems to be a 'flat spot' between 70 and 80mph where the car doesn't really want to accelerate. The car also doesn't like to be loaded with people, which to be honest is nothing different to any other car with the same size engine.
The gear box is very 'precise.' My previous Vauxhall Corsa's gearbox was very slow and forgiving, whereas you can easily be selecting 5th when you want 3rd in the Almera. The clutch is very light, and again more 'precise' than the one in the Corsa.
Fuel economy isn't great considering it is mostly only me in the car and mainly motorway trips. A mix of about 70% motorway (at about 85mph) and 30% town and dual carriageway driving I get an average of 35mpg.
The seats and quite firm and on a long journey you sometime end up with numb behind, although this isn't really a problem in daily driving. The ride is quite firm, but in no way uncomfortable.
The interior is an expanse of boring black plastic; however, it is well laid out and after 100k miles, has no rattles and squeaks. Despite looking much better my mothers Golf of the same year has an abundance of rattles after 68,000 miles.
It is unbelievably reliable. Touch wood, nothing has gone wrong with it - it's still on it's original battery, although with the cold weather we're having now it may need replacing.
I didn't choose this car. I had a Vauxhall Corsa for 2 months before it was written off (someone elses fault I should add) and was given this by my father. To be honest, I would have never have chosen it. As a 21 year old it is not the kind of car a young person would have. I would like a Golf, but after my mothers experience with hers, I will look elsewhere.
However, if all you are after a no nonsense car that will get you from A to B with the minimum of fuss then I would recommend it.