In 1999 I was looking for a reasonably priced (slightly-sporty) car to replace my ailing Peugeot 405. After spending too long messing about I finally decided the Ford probe was OK but had an interior made from toilet roll holders and sticky backed plastic. I realised I couldn't afford a decent coupe - so miffed, with a very poorly Peugeot, I contacted a friendly Toyota garage with my budget: "Find and sell me a 2L car which won't ever break down. It mustn't leak oil or ever annoy me! I sent a cheque and bought the Carina without ever having knowingly seen the same model (I hadn't been looking!)
For a "normal" car I now really like my Carina - a car of compromises. Mine's the hatchback, and while the curved profile limits load capacity... I still managed to transport a new double divan bed (in two sections, two journeys) in the back! The engine is quiet and (while I'd prefer something nippier from a standing start) it out-performs most cars from the lights. On the motorway, it effortlessly tackles hills and gives confidence you've always acceleration to overtake - it was an especially fantastic choice during the months I regularly drove between Bristol and Edinburgh in an evening. While car-obsessed friends find this next remark "hopelessly-girly" - I think it's remarkably easy to drive - almost idiot-proof... maybe because it's front wheel drive? (So was my previous car - maybe I find the steering responsive?) When I do something silly (say make a turn too quickly or drive a tad to aggressively in the ice) I get to know about it without serious consequences - while I check I'm wearing my "sensible head," the Carina magically returns to full control remarkably quickly.
The CDX variant was a positive move too. Apart from the exterior styling - about which I don't give a hoot - I think the main distinction is that this one has air-conditioning. I can't imagine driving a car without now - no condensation is great! In the interior, I like the seats (cloth/velour) but the remainder of the trim lets the car down in my opinion - functional but lacklustre. Oh... I seem to wear out front tyres rather quickly too (maybe that's my driving... least said eh?)
All in all, I've been very pleased... and now, as I tentatively look for my elusive replacement I find I'm hard pressed finding a credible 2 or 3 year old alternative. The competing "family cars" have become bigger (harder to find parking space) and slower - while the coupes seem to have become "trim only" small engine runabouts or lardy, 3L gas-guzzling monstrosities.