Despite it's faults, the most annoying being the erratic idling (hopefully should be easy and not too costly to fix), this car really is a performance bargain.
At just over 11,000 new and in my case 5,600 pounds second hand, you truly are buying an awful lot of 'driver's car' for the money.
It is not hard to see why Jeremy Clarkson voted it the world's second best handling car (behind the Ferrari 550 - this was a few years ago now) in his video with Richard Burns and Tim Harvey.
Extremely rapid progress can be made across country and given a bendy round there is little that can keep up. Even using just fourth and fifth gear on B roads, the car is untouchable. Turn-in is sharp, whatever the speed. Above 70mph this can prove a little scary at times, with the rear of the car going light, though this ultimately only goes to aid the car's agility where most cars would take on an understeer stance.
In the dry the car can be driven very hard with little to worry about, though in the wet backing off or braking mid-bend (on even gentle curves) will often result in instant sideways movement, which is huge fun in most circumstances, but could prove tricky to control in an emergency.
As standard the car comes with Pirelli P700z, which proved very good in the dry though the Goodyear Eagle F1s which I have recently had fitted prove more reassuring in the wet.
The brakes are ultimately very powerful though the pedal feel is quite soft initially which is a littly disconcerting, though this does allow you to modulate braking force quite easily.
As for the engine, driven below 4000rpm it is easily quick enough to keep pace with most other cars, though it does lack low down torque, which means initially the average turbo diesel will seem to pull away. Rev past 4000rpm and serious performance is on offer up until the limiter at 7200rpm, though the engine pulls best between 4500 and 6600 (max power). I've heard an induction kit helps to improve top end breathing quite significantly, so I am considering fitting one soon, especially as it will improve the already engaging engine note.
Inside, the leather/alcantara seats are a welcome addition as is the oil temperature gauge - it is surprising how long it takes for the oil to fully warm up from cold - those people revving their cars hard as soon as the coolant is warmed up be warned.
I believe the car looks great in standard, especially in platinum silver (though annoyingly it does look very similar to the Quiksilver which now has the GTi alloys) and diablo red. I've seen one with 15 inch Peugeot alloys from the 306 GTi which look very nice, though I've heard fitting bigger wheels can spoil turn-in.
Oil consumption seems to be fine, though after 1000 miles of consistent motorway driving over a few days, a little oil was required - I put this down to the oil becoming very hot having to put up with constant 4000 to 5000rpm driving.