Aside from the faults, it really is a lovely car.
The handling is amazing and the brakes are like anchors.
The interior of the car is gorgeous, with deep bolstered racing seats, covered in leather and alcantara (form of suede if anyone didn't know!). There is an aluminium effect throughout and it appears very modern.
The car is virtually fully loaded and the driver could not want for more toys for the price. Climate control, traction control, ESP, ABS, 4 airbags, 16 inch alloys, CD multichanger, Xenon headlamps, on board computer, are all just some of the things as standard.
Exterior is down to personal taste. Some people preferred the original Mk1 172. I personally didn't and think that the Mk2 looks a lot better. It sits quite low and has a real menacing presence on the road.
Performance-wise I'm not a good person to give an opinion and it may conflict with what others say. An individual viewpoint on performance is all relative. You wouldn't feel happy getting into an Impreza WRX if you'd just owned a TVR Cerbera.
Unfortunately I'm a bit of a speed junkie, so the 172 wasn't as quick as I'd hoped it would be.
Don't get me wrong...172bhp in a car that weighs just over a tonne isn't slow. It will see off many a boy racer and can seriously embarrass much more expensive cars. However the point I'm trying to make, is that it isn't as devastatingly quick as I had hoped. I think I'm missing my turbos!
0-62 time is about 7.1 seconds, which would give a 0-60 of very late 6's. Although it has been road tested by various magazines at closer to 6.6. You get the gist!
The big problem with the performance is that it isn't always at your feet. Sure, the 2.0 16v is very lusty and torque is always available for lazy drivers. However the engine really likes to rev. It produces its 172bhp at 6250rpm and peak torque is only slightly lower at around 5500rpm. To say you have to cane it would be an understatement. It will just not satisfy without red lining in most gears. Yes, it's driveable at all revs and it has a very responsive throttle, but the real power only happens when the VVT kicks in at 5000rpm. Some people may see this as a good thing because the car can be Jekyll and Hyde, but I like my power at the kick of a heel.
You can get an import 172 for around £12000 at the moment. This makes it excellent value for money. When you consider that its close rival, the Civic Type R weighs in at around £16000 and doesn't come with half the equipment. The Civic may be marginally faster, but when you have to pay £1200 odd for climate control, it all adds up to make the 172 the better car.
Recommended as long as you are upgrading to it, and not side stepping! Oh, and don't drive it after driving a turbo car!
You may also like to consider dumping most of the luxuries and opting for the slightly quicker 172 Cup (which does have a lovely colour!). Personally I couldn't throw away all the goodies for a couple of tenths on the 0-60 - especially when you can get an import 172 for the same sort of price as the 172 Cup from a dealer!