2000 Reliant Robin LX 0.85 from UK and Ireland
Unique, eye-catching, old-fashioned, unreliable heap of junk
Where to start? The Reliant has had lots of problems; even for a car made as recently as 2000 it's pretty shocking. Main problem is water/rain leaks: the car leaks absolutely everywhere. Water gets into both doors, all front and rear footwells, back seat always damp, back side panels fill up, the boot fills up with pools, windscreen leaks, back windows leak and roof leaks. It's a boat, or bath tub on wheels. Mold/mildew grows inside the car on the seats and trim, producing nasty smells and horrible fungus.
In the winter months car is a nightmare to drive on early mornings and at night; takes forever to warm up, door locks jam, heated rear screen doesn't work, heater doesn't work, demisters are very poor/primitive, all the windows steam up, mirrors steam up, can't see anything.
All the lights have failed during my time owning it; brake lights, head/dipped/full beam failed, reverse and tail lights, all indicators etc. Horn doesn't work. Boot lock doesn't work. Inside door handles jam up, trapping you inside. Brakes squeak. Gear changing very clunky. Doors need an incredible amount of force to slam them otherwise they won't close properly.
Suspension is horrible; very loud bangs when going over speed bumps and potholes; sounds like glass shattering if negotiating at speed. Handling poor; shakes at higher speeds, all sorts of rattles, noises and the smell of engine ever-present. There's a constant feeling the whole thing is about to blow up; very unpleasant.
I really wanted and waited a long time to get my Reliant, a late model mk3, one of the last, and what a huge disappointment it has proved. It has so many little problems and niggles it's enough to turn one's hair white. The car is very old fashioned: no fuel injection, so manual choke start. Very unreliable; I never know if the car will start, engine only starts with choke which I don't like using. Sometimes I forget to push the choke back in; I have to do this when I'm already on the move. This means I have to take my eyes off the road to look for the choke control; this is distracting and dangerous.
Engine is very noisy; especially when pulling away in 1st. Doesn't like gearing down even though synchromesh is fitted. Only a 4 speed transmission when it really needs 5 gears; most comfortable cruising speed is approx 45mph in 4th. Any faster and engine noise increases; 70 is absolutely deafening (imagine 20 lawn mowers at once), all because there is no 5th gear to relax the engine. The driving experience is miserable and awful on long-distance trips. Even at a steady 50 while tolerating the noise, you feel like you will never get to your destination.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt, but I've come to the conclusion that a recent report saying the Reliant Robin is the worst car ever made, is true indeed. It's just a unique, eye-catching, antique, unreliable heap of junk. A rubbish car, which I can't get rid of because due to all the problems it has, no-one will take over and buy it from me. The car was very expensive to buy, so I'm at a loss with the situation.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 29th November, 2014
4th Feb 2015, 23:48
This report had me in stitches!
Agree the car is dated, and one must surely expect it to perform like an old design or be dissatisfied, which this person surely was. I use a modern electric car, but keep an early Robin just to remind me of what inexpensive motoring was like in a past era. It's now a fun car that's appreciating, which I take to shows. I like the history of the product and its innovations that most are unaware of, such as the early use of a plastic body and aluminium engine. These two applications made for a very light and efficient vehicle, providing better fuel economy and acceleration.
I think of the Robin in the same context as the bubble cars that came before it; the Reliant was minimal motoring for a bygone era.