Fantastic flat four engine on the open road. Very torquey and revs to the limiter with ease and without complaint.
Engine sounds absolutely superb. It has a lovely low, rasping growl. It makes you want to rev it all the time.
Stodgy engine in traffic. Very jerky when coming on and off the throttle.
Slick gearbox. After a while you forget its there as it is so un-troublesome. They should all be like this.
Poor fuel economy. This is partly due to the above comment as it is so tempting to put your foot down. I have been on the M25 with the petrol light flickering really wondering whether I will make it to a filling station - the needle really does go down very rapidly.
Tremendous grip from the 4 wheel drive. Standing starts are phenomenal in the wet and the power can be applied so early in a corner that you really can't believe it's sticking.
Good performance. The torquey nature of the engine makes applying the power very easy.
Lifeless Clutch. Difficult to judge for smooth getaway.
Awful steering. Very, very light with absolutely no feel. Steering wheel way too large - feels like piloting a boat rather than driving a car. It is fairly accurate though so it is a bit like playing a car simulator computer game. The steering is also very low-geared so a great deal of turning is required to get the car pointing where you want it.
Average handling - Although the grip is superb, the handling isn't much to get excited about. It will understeer horribly into corners and the body roll is very pronounced. Allied to the light steering means it is not much fun on very twisty stuff.
This car has some great plus points, but too many negatives. I'm sure if there was a hair-dryer-type device attached to the engine and there were over 200 horses to tame it would be superb (as long as they put a smaller steering wheel on the thing).
As mentioned, the engine is a stonker, and the 4 wheel drive is agricultural (you can hear the diffs clunking away when applying power through bends) but great fun.
It is such a pity that it has typical Japanese steering completely removing any sporty aspirations. I know many reviewers say these cars have great handling (the Turbo maybe does, but I am talking about the poor relatives) but I really think that handling gets confused with grip. Yes, the grip is good on the throttle, but the handling is weak:- It understeers into bends, rolls and gives no feedback to the driver which, in my opinion, is what handling is all about.
Overall, the engine and the 4 wheel drive are the only reasons you would buy this car. It is a question of whether you can live the the rest of it being so very average...