1997 Seat Cordoba Vario SXE 1.9 TDi from UK and Ireland


Reliable, well spec'ed and great boot space at the expense of rear passengers. Great VFM car


When I bought the car the rear windscreen washer pump was dumping fluid into the near side rear wheel arch. I got this fixed by the selling garage, I hear it's a common fault caused by a pipe join being forced apart if the water in it freezes. This caused a second problem, the failure of the boot light, which was down to wire corrosion from the screen wash water. An auto electrician re-crimped and fixed this for me for about £25.

I have had a front wheel bearing changed at about 60,000 miles, and again around 1000 miles later (faulty part, not from a Seat garage) under a part warranty.

Rubber gaiters for the door light switches are prone to falling off easily, and the car was missing switches when I got it. I have replaced them, at modest cost from Seat, but they are easily caught by luggage/passengers and can get pulled off.

Clutch pedal has been a bit 'notchy' and sticky since purchase, but has produced no serious ill effects yet. Sometimes required me to hook my foot behind the pedal and pull it towards me a bit to get it all the way out.

General Comments:

The car is in effect a VW Polo estate with some re-styling done to it. I find it to be quick and responsive compared to my old 1.4 Clio, with the turbo making a noticeable difference - turbo lag can be detected but isn't significant enough to be frustrating.

The driving position is quite nice, although I have set up my steering column so that a lot of dash indicators are obscured - more lumbar support would be good too. The car is well specified, coming with Air Conditioning and electric windows, along with two front airbags, alarm and foglights.

The huge bonus of this car is the available bootspace - with seats folded down I have been able to get quite a bit of work equipment in there when I've needed to. Although I've not used them yet, the roof bars are also bound to become a useful extra at some point in the future. The engine is powerful for the car's size and is not too large for parking. Fuel economy is excellent, I estimate around 50-55 MPG.

One of the downsides of having this brilliant bootspace is that the rear seats are very cramped. I often drive hockey players around to games and they don't like sitting behind my normal driving position (6' tall) because its so cramped for legroom in the back. I do end up taking the goalie kit usually though!

Dash/trim is reasonable, the seats aren't bad and there are a fair few cubby holes for me to store all my junk in. Smokers may be annoyed at the lack of an ashtray, but for me it's a bonus storage area. The glove box is a bit weird, being under the steering column and quite small, but functional. Rear passenger lighting is neglected a bit also. My primary irritation is the lack of cupholders, unless I have a passenger to do the job for me. This car is not great for learners or those inexperienced in car size judgment, as the rear window is small and visibility a bit poor.

Seat have been quite good at getting me parts for the bits I've broken or when I've done oil changes myself and the prices haven't been too extortionate. I have avoided their prices for servicing however and will go to a private garage or do oil change type jobs myself.

For anyone on a budget and involved in something that involves hauling around moderate amounts of gear and/or passengers, this car is very much worth a look. I got it at a low price (£1800) for a good mileage of 58,800 and it has been reliable since - larger second hand estate will cost a lot more than this.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th April, 2008

4th Apr 2010, 06:56

The same car is now up to about 120,000 miles in 2010 and I've had a fair bit of work done to it, some of it routine and some less so.

The exhaust heat shield unclipped and was rattling on top of the cat for a bit, which was noisy, but easily removed and fixed. I've had to have the cat replaced after it failed at a join due to corrosion. Two other wheel bearings have also been replaced at the 95k mark.

Around 70k miles I had trouble with the manual transmission - there is a link from the gear rods to the selectors themselves on top of the gearbox (near the balance weight). There is a piece of punched metal that is fairly flimsy in design and eventually sheared, leaving me with no gear control. I found a competent auto-transmission place that fixed it for me at about £80 and it is now working fine.

Winter-time has also brought problems with the front doors this year. Very cold weather means that the mechanism fails to release the door latch. This problem started with the inside handle, but now includes the outside too. I've asked my garage to look into it, but I don't think they've had the time on top of other work - needless to say it is very irritating.

I've also had to replace a brake caliper this year which had seized.

In the last week or so the electric rear wiper has failed, taking the fuse out with it. I suspect a shorting motor at this stage, which may be expensive to replace. I'm also having trouble with the engine entering "limp mode", which I hope is down to a cheap piece of vacuum hose that links the air intake to the engine computer. It's a fabric covered design, and I noticed recently that it has split at the end, so could be giving the computer spurious results. Changing it will hopefully fix the problem.

All in all though, the car is still running without any major dramas. I do get the feeling that a lot of parts are starting to give out at this stage, however.

1997 Seat Cordoba S 1.6 petrol from UK and Ireland


Strong in most areas - especially value for money


Ignition failed at 50,000 miles.

Brake pads needed replacing at 59,000 miles, again at 66,000 miles and finally at 70,000 miles.

Driver's window motor failed at 63,000 miles.

Air conditioning failed at 67,000 miles.

General Comments:

Apart from a handful of electrical faults, the Cordoba was a very reliable car.

Its interior space and comfort were a bit disappointing for a Focus sized car.

1.6 engine gave brilliant performance and this was matched by an impressive chassis.

A bargain buy at £3,000 for a five year old family saloon.

Let it go for £1,000 three years later.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th April, 2006