This car is serious value for money, mine was £700 and for that you get a perfectly respectable saloon car with a good specification - mine has air-conditioning, steering wheel radio controls, electric windows all-round, electric mirrors, remote central locking etc. Someone I know recently bought a similarly aged, mileaged and specced Peugeot 406 TD for twice the price - the Pug is nicer to drive and better inside, but still nowhere near twice the car.
The L-series 1994cc turbo-diesel is an excellent engine - despite being a dated design (it's based on the 1985 Perkins MDi engine which is in turn based on the 1978 BL O-series petrol engine). I've never had the fuel consumption drop below 40MPG and 50MPG+ is easily attainable, despite my heavy right foot. Running it on vegetable oil reduces costs even further! Performance is very good once you're up to speed, but getting there seems to take an age. It's still pulling well when you're up to 100MPH.
The interior is pretty poor, though seems decently built. The basic dash design is from 1990 (the mid-90s Rover 400/Euro Honda Civic is based on the Japan-only Honda Domani of 1990) and it comes as a shock to realise that they were still making a car with this dashboard until 2004 when they upgraded the Rover 45. Room is good in the front, especially with the sunroof deleted - the 416Si (with sunroof) I owned before was cramped. The accommodation in the back is pretty poor though. At least the boot is big.
Driving is easy and the handling is good, despite the worn dampers. I've added original manufacturer alloys with 55-profile tyres from a Rover 25 which improve handling even more. The gearbox is pretty horrific though, when it's in gear you wouldn't even know it with the play you get in the gearstick and it's sometimes difficult to select some gears. However it's nice and high geared, which makes motorway driving quiet, with a good 85MPH at 3000rpm.
The styling is subtle, but quite attractive - if only for the saloon version (the hatchback is basically a Honda Civic - hardly a looker). You can see hints of the Rover 75 in the tail and from the side it looks almost BMW. The alloy wheels and clear side repeaters I've added definitely sharpen it up though.