A solid, reliable, and pleasantly driveable bargain
The only gripe is that when the engine is still warm, it needs a little careful revving (only up to 1500 rps) to stop it stalling. Other than that, outstanding for a car its age. Service history shows no major repairs, except a new head gasket a couple of years ago.
Cavaliers are not exactly objects of beauty; I think we all know that. But put a black paint job on and suddenly it looks a little bit cheeky, a wee bit sassy. The car was metallic black from new, and it does do a lot for the look.
The Vauxhall alloys are also smart, and complement the body's colour well. The only thing wrong here is the faded plastic on the wing mirrors, but nothing a bit of blackener can't fix.
In terms of handling, it is surprisingly good for a car as old as this; it corners pretty well, certainly a world apart from the same-era Carlton which wallows around corners like a whale with wheels; the Cavaliers wide tyres and tighter suspension see to that. Acceleration is quick, too, with peak power coming in at around 2500 revs and above, and a nicely throaty tone rumbling from the 2 litre injection engine at 3000 brings a smile to my face. The excellent soundproofing on the GLS model does reduce the characteristic noisiness of the Cavalier very effectively.
Inside, the seats give pretty good lower back support, though by modern standards are pretty unremarkable. Non-adjustable steering column is a pain, but a comfy driving position is fairly easy to find, and the way the Cavalier's lines are drawn, there is plenty of headroom whatever your height. The dash is plain and utilitarian, very mid-nineties.
One of the biggest points that makes the Cavalier the bargain it is nowadays (if you can find a really tidy one with a 2 litre or better engine, and a good trim such as GLS, CD, CDX or SRi) is that they are unbelievably cheap to maintain. Parts, both new and used, are very easy to come by and extremely reasonable to buy. That it isn't stuffed to the radiator cap with computers means that DIY is also an option.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th December, 2002