Dull but efficient commuter; not too reliable as a race car
Leaking weatherstripping on driver side. Replaced it but a year later I think it started dripping again.
Replaced front wheel bearings, twice in one year.
Radiator cracked and had to be replaced.
Oil leak, supposedly from valve cover gasket. Replaced the gasket but the leak persisted.
Flex pipe gained a hole during one race, muffler gained a hole during another race and eventually even fell off its steel hanger/mount.
Windshield fell victim to flying rocks.
Transmission blew up after roughly 10 ice races over two seasons.
This wagon was my daily driver/ice racer combo. In its daily driver capacity it raked in about 25,000 miles over the 15 months that I've owned it. In its ice racer capacity it has seen maybe 10 race events over two winters, a few of them being 3 hour endurance races.
Performance is acceptable for an econobox. Use of plastic reduces weight of the car - the wagon is only about 100 to 150 lbs heavier than my Miata. Being relatively light also helps with fuel mileage, I figure consistent 30+ mpg even with a lead foot. SW2 is not at all fast in absolute terms but it's just fast enough that I don't get frustrated. Manual transmission is very easy to drive. There is plenty of interior room, especially with the rear seats folded.
Overall the car is a great commuting/transporting vehicle. What SW2 does not have much of is excitement. It will get you and your belongings from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss and pretty cheaply.
I have my doubts about quality of some of the repairs done, particularly the first wheel bearing repair and the valve cover gasket repair. Both were done by the same shop, and in both cases the symptom that prompted the repair have not disappeared after the repair was done.
Transmission was a weak point in my car. During an endurance race in early 2008 shifting from 3rd to 2nd started taking several seconds. Despite me releasing the clutch quickly engine RPMs would take a while to come up to where they should be given the car's speed. I thought the clutch overheated, but since the car drove fine didn't replace anything. A year later after unloading the car after a race the transmission exploded just as I started driving home. Now when I race, and sometimes when I drive, I drive the car hard, but I think I'm reasonable and I wouldn't call my driving stupid or unnecessarily abusive. My Miata certainly gets abused more during drifting and summer track days.
Mostly due to transmission failure and dullness of the car I'm looking to get something else for commuting. But cargo space, fuel mileage and performance per dollar of an SW2 are hard to beat.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 23rd March, 2009