Drove one of these today. Thoroughly enjoyed it - very 'rorty,' very fast when desired (60ish in second makes it good for overtaking safely and fun for pulling out of the bends!) and easy to drive at a slower pace and round town. 31 mpg on a fast run wasn't too bad from a 2.0 engine either, I thought.
Faults, given it's a 8/9 year old car? First and second are very stiff and clunky, the clutch is a bit stiff and theres a worrying 'shunt' from the chassis when floored in second if dropping down quickly from third, but that may just be the effect of a comparitively powerful engine in a small, lightweight car. In any case I've been told I'll get 12 months MOT if and when my friend does sell it and she'll get any problems seen to so it's mechanically sound; I'd just need to give it a service and grit my teeth at the insurance quote!
Are these generally good cars and would you folks recommend I go for it, ignoring the boy racer connotations of this kind of car?
I'm into four figures insurance-wise on the 8 valve so the 16 valve is out of the equation - I suspect the 8 would be similar in everyday use anyway. Torque is similar, so I expect it's only top end power where I'd see the difference.
I'm not *that* fast a driver anyway ;) Really I like the extra power to be able to overtake comfortably and get out of trouble and as for day to day use, I find the car easy to drive round town etc.