Despite the faults, a bargain sports saloon
Possible head gasket problems, replaced under warranty.
Possibly has a porous cylinder head as there is a trace of white residue in the coolant tank which, I am told by my mechanic, is oil getting into the coolant. Also the engine was losing coolant, but no apparent leakage. Possible cost to repair is £500+ to replace the cylinder head, but some garages may be able to do it for less. This is apparently a common fault on 2 litre, 16 valve, 148 bhp, non-EcoTec engines.
Occasionally noisy hydraulic valve lifters. Oil sump cleaned out.
Engine was running too cold, thermostat replaced.
Steering wheel shook at 60 mph+. Wheels needed re-balancing.
Brake judder due to unbalanced wheels. May need to replace brake discs.
Annoying squeaky clutch pedal.
The car is quite quick with brisk acceleration. Excellent for overtaking. As good as a GSi, but generally cheaper than the GSi.
Handling is pretty poor due to its standard suspension. Needs to be driven with care around twisty B-roads.
Dashboard is a bit plasticy and boring.
Build quality is sub-standard if you compare it with a Toyota or BMW, but that shows in the price difference.
Fairly comfortable sports seats. Driving position not the best. Sometimes can get hard on the left foot when driving in town.
Looks better than other models with side-skirts and alloy wheels, and in my opinion the saloon model looks better than the hatchback.
Prices are very cheap compared to an equivalent German or Japanese saloons.
This can be a bargain sporty saloon without the faults, but you do get what you pay for in terms of build quality and reliability.
Go for the lesser-powered EcoTec version for reliability.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 27th October, 2002