The car has been very reliable. Since I bought it back in late 2004, I can honestly say up until last year the only thing I've had go wrong with it is a sidelight fusing and a brake light.
I wouldn't rate myself as mechanically minded, so I went to the Toyota dealer to see about getting a new sidelight fitted a few days before my MOT. They wanted to charge something like £8 for the bulb, and then £27 + VAT to fit it! Found out I could get the bulb in Halfords for a few pounds and my mate fitted it in under 2 minutes, so I've learned to be a bit wary of Mr T when it comes to repairs!
Recently though, I have noticed an excessive amount of oil consumption from the engine, apparently this is a problem identified by Toyota in the early run of the 140vvti engine, and can be corrected provided your engine is still under warranty (think it may be 70k miles) whereby a new or reconditioned short engine block is replaced. 140vvti cars around mid 2002 onwards do not suffer from this problem (if you are buying one, look for the facelift model instead to be sure).
Toyota carry out an oil consumption test after 600 miles, then a further 1000 then a third after a further 600 miles.
My last reading was over 1 litre of oil used in 600 miles, the readings have been sent to Toyota UK and I'm awaiting a response.
I've had to replace all the brake discs and pads on the car (Toyota were looking for silly money for doing this), I managed to buy the discs and pads online and get them fitted locally by a mechanic for less than the price of the parts supplied from Toyota. Labour prices at a franchised dealer are very high.
Brake discs can get badly warped also on the standard Toyota discs, you should avoid holding your car on hills with your footbrake, as the heat and friction eventually makes the surface uneven. Toyota often offer to skim the discs, which solves the problem for a while, but they were looking to skim my brakes again at the next service, so I just decided to get new ones myself and have them fitted, they were badly corroded. Corrosion is very bad on the inside of the discs, and you won't be able to see this unless you are under the car or remove the discs yourself.
If you are thinking of buying a pre facelft model, make sure the service book is fully stamped to cover yourself in the event of the oil burning issue - it's well documented online.