Small Diesel Car - LinuxGeek
Hi guys, I'm looking for a small diesel car and I don't really know what to buy. I'm on a very tight budget and I'm looking for something less than £1000. I do over 20000 miles a year, most of them locally so I ain't looking for a big car. I'm really set for Ibiza TDi and maybe Polo (if I'm lucky enough to find a decent one for less than a grand). What you think about these two models? Pros and Cons? Anything else you could suggest. Reliability and costs are the most important factors for me and I'm not bothered about image etc..Thanks!
Small Diesel Car - y2k+4
Citroen ZX/Pug 205/306 TD's. The 1.9TD in the ZX and 306 is a great engine. The ZX is a highly underrated car and you should easily be able to find one of the last one's for £1k. The 306 shares the engine and platform, but because it's a better-looking car it commands higher prices. The 205 will be a bit older than both, but is immense fun with the 1.8DT.

I'd possibly also give some consideration to a Rover 200 2.0 TD (96-99). Quite good-looking and spacious for a supermini, quick, reliable (did 120,000miles no prob) drives quite well, and a cut above the rest inside - and prices are very low. Mum had a 400 with the same engine and that was a pretty ok car.

I wouldn't consider a Polo. The one's pre-2000 were a disappointment inside in my opinion and the cabin is exactly the same in the Ibiza, so that's the one I'd pick. Also, not sure the TDi engine was put into the Polo until 2000 and you wouldn't find one for a £1000.

My money would probably go on the Rover.
Small Diesel Car - landmarked
I would second y2k's advice about avoiding the pre-2000 Polo Diesel (and mechanically identical non-TDI ibiza). I had one and the refinement was seriously behind the times, even by old-tech diesel standards. It rusted, wasn't particularly robust or economical and left abolutely no opportunity for overtaking anything but the odd cyclist (seriously, even tractors were risky).

In all aspects but image the ZX TD I've just sold was a far, far superior car - problem is they are worth so little you could struggle to find one that has been properly maintained.
Small Diesel Car - DP
Brommers comments on the Polo are pretty much word for word what I would say based on a year with a 1998 1.9D CL

There are far better cars out there.

Small Diesel Car - barchettaman
Skoda Felicia 1.9D could be worth a look, if one comes up near you.
Quite a light car so doesn´t miss the turbo that much.
Versatile and robust.
Small Diesel Car - Martin1981
The 306 and ZX 1.9TD's with the old XUD engines are probably the best small-ish diesel cars around in that price range. Yes the ZX is a bit cheaper to buy than the 306, but if you prefer the 306 like many do, you should be able to find a well maintained 306TD around 10 years old for around £1k. Service history is essential on these i.e. frequent oil and filter changes and coolant change every 2 years, otherwise you're asking for head gasket problems. My 1994 one of these has just rattled past the 180k mark and is still going strong but have had to replace a parts including the engine. Nice car to drive though, 500+ miles to the tank, quicker than most other diesel cars of that age, group 5 insurance and relatively easy to carry out simple items like changing the oil, filters and coolant.

Small Diesel Car - DavidHM
[i]quicker than most other diesel cars of that age[/i]

Such as 51 plate Vectra 2.0 petrols and MINI Coopers? (Both of which it would comfortably leave behind in a tailgating situation from 70 to er... slightly more than 70).

Mine, a 1994 306 Sedan with 120k miles, cost me £495 and with a valet, new tyres and brakes, now drives like new - and looks it from 10 feet away.
Small Diesel Car - mk124
Surprised at the advice so far. Reading other recomendations on this forum I thought if the OP was on a budget of less then about 3-4K then we recomend 'Bangers'. That is cars that should last if they have no outstanding machanical issues and hopefully get through next years M.O.T, if they are lucky. Knowing nothing about cars but a lot about this forum I would ask how important reliability is to you. If reliablity is paramont go for something that is at the top end of your budget. If reliabity is secondary, why not spend £250 on a banger with 12 months MOT and an owner that is honest - that is someone who lets you see what they have spent over the last year on the car.
Small Diesel Car - LinuxGeek
Thanks for all your posts. I'm quite surprised (in a nice way) to see so many people suggesting ZX and 306. I've never driven Citroen so far but I believe they've got Pug engines. My past experience with 306 isn't good at all. I've had only one 306 and after driving it for few months, head gasket went and as you know it wasn't cheap to replace it, it was TD engine. Considering the fact that reliability is my main priority and I'm on a very tight budget of under £1k would I be able to pick up a ZX that was looked after well and has got history to backup the claims or doing so?
What are the common faults to keep in mind when checking out a ZX. I think I'll go for ZX because I'll be able to buy a better ZX for the same money than a Pug because as we all know ZX isn't a good lookign car.
But I'm still keen to buy a Seat Ibiza TDi purely because its got VW engine and I've had Polo diesel once before and I drove it for more than year and it was as reliable as a car can be. It never let me down and an idiot hit me from the back and that lovely little car was written off!
Small Diesel Car - landmarked
I've just sold a ZX that meets that exact description. If it has had oil changes every 6000 miles and and coolant changes every couple of years it's likely to be as reliable as anything else, but yes they are prone to head gasget failures if neglected.
Other things to check are rear subframe mounts and arm bearings - are the rear wheels vertical when viewed from the back? If they slope inwards you could have a couple of hundred pounds worth of work waiting for you at the next MOT. Check that the clutch doesn't slip, isn't overly heavy and doesn't bite in right at the top of it's travel. During a test drive check there are no rattles / clonks from the suspension which could indicate worn drop links of duff subframe mounts.
Personally I would only consider buying a ZX with plenty of MOT on it. That way you know the owner is not simply disposing of the car because it would be expensive to get through.

An ibiza TDi would probably be more expensive for an equivalent car, but might be a better bet - it's basically a turbocharged version of the Polo you owned. I'm no expert on these so I can only suggest you go for one with the best service history and lowest milage you can afford.
Small Diesel Car - y2k+4
With cars of this age, I think you should base your whether to buy opinion on the condition of the car itself, but there's no harm in limiting your choices. Look at the ZX (importantly, drive the ZX and if you liked the 306, it'll all be extremely familiar, both went out of production at or near top-of-the-class for ride/handling combination. Yes a Focus is more capable, but no more fun and definately not in budget).

The Ibiza TDi will be a smaller car, and less common than the ZX so there's no real harm seeking out models of each and seeing what the budget will get you in your area.
Small Diesel Car - GregSwain
How about an old model Astra TD? On autotrader there's one on a P-plate (1996-7), 89k on the clock with full history for £900. Buy one at that price, whack a new cambelt on, and you've got a decent car for a few years.
Small Diesel Car - LinuxGeek
GregSwain are they reliable motors? I believe they've got Isuzu engines but I'm not sure how reliable the car is.
I've just seen couple of Skoda Felicia 1.9 diesels on autotrader for less than a grand and according to parkers they've got VW engines. I don't think its a bad price for an S reg/99 car. What you guys think about them as per reliability and costs? Image isn't an issue for me.
Small Diesel Car - Soupytwist
I don't think that all (any?) Felicias have power steering, if that's important to you.
Soupytwist !
Small Diesel Car - landmarked
Everything said about the Polo goes for the Felicia as well, although at least it would be cheaper. If even the diesel doesn't come with power steering it would be an unbearable drive.
Small Diesel Car - Gromit {P}
Soupytwist: I don't think that all (any?) Felicias have power steering, if that's important to you.

Power steering was not fitted as standard until 1997. The 1998-2000 model years had it.
Small Diesel Car - GregSwain
They've got Isuzu engines, and if properly looked after they should be pretty reliable (stronger engines than the petrol Astras of the time). Go for the Skoda if price is the number one concern, those old VW diesels are also very reliable, although according to the CBC there's some gearbox worries on the diesel Felicia, so bear that in mind.
Small Diesel Car - LinuxGeek
I think I'll be going for Citroen Zx as there're lots of them in my price range with a decent mileage or less than 120k miles. Most of them are D models rather than TD models. I would like to know which one is more economical and less troublesome. Are they as economical as VW diesel engines in Polo?
Small Diesel Car - y2k+4
Obviously, there is less to go wrong on the non-turbo unit. But it's really not very good to drive.
Small Diesel Car - LinuxGeek
Also how would you compare Citroen ZX with Seat Ibiza or Skoda Felicia in economy and reliability side of things? From these three which one would your first and second choice?
Small Diesel Car - landmarked
I found the 1.9D engine in my Polo (same as Felicia) to be LESS economical than the 1.9TD in the ZX

At this price it's almost impossible to judge which would be most reliable / cheapest to maintain. Better to work out which would be cheapest for you to insure, then buy one based on condition / service history.
Small Diesel Car - Martin1981
The ZX in its 1.9TD guise sounds like the best option in my opinion, much quicker and, according to brommers more economical than the VAG normally aspirated diesels. Definitely go for the TD ZX though, it's hardly any thirstier than the normally aspirated 1.9D but is a hell of a lot quicker, with plenty of power for overtaking and long hill climbs. As I said in my previous message on this subject, the 306/ZX 1.9TD will put many diesel cars of the same age to shame. Again, check the service history when looking at one, change the oil and filters every 5-6k and the coolant every 2 years to rule out head gasket problems, which are commonplace on these engines if neglected, more so on the TD than the non-turbo engines for some reason. Otherwise these cars are good for 200k plus.

Small Diesel Car - Avant
I honestly think that in your price range condition matters more than model. Look at plenty of cars and find one you like that seems healthy - preferably with proof of big bills behind it (e.g. head gasket, turbo, cambelt).

That said, if you can find a good Peugeot 205 diesel, go for it. Fellow backroomer Xileno found one and says he has had a lot of pleasure out of it.
Small Diesel Car - Xileno {P}
Who me? Well yes. 205 is a great car and was voted by one of the car magazines as 'Car of the Decade' a few years ago. You will struggle to find nice ones now, they are still around but you have to look long and hard. A lot of rubbish around. The XUD engine will go on and on and on provided it's serviced.
Small Diesel Car - Martin1981
Yes the 205 1.7D is a good choice if you can find a decent one, but as Xileno says a good 205 these days is hard to find. You maybe lucky enough to find one of the later 205 diesels i.e. M-N reg (with PAS) in decent condition for around £500. The later 205s also had more equipment such as electric windows and central locking as standard and better interior quality. The normally aspirated diesel is also quite nippy as it's a relatively lightweight car compared with the ZX and particularly the 306, which also aids fuel economy. I borrowed a friend's 205D for a day a few years ago and was surprised how nippy it was.

Small Diesel Car - Xileno {P}
It's my intention to snap up a few more 205's if I can find nice ones. I have a habit of acquiring things and it annoys SWMBO which makes it all the more enjoyable. There will never be another car like the 205, it did so many things brilliantly but simply. Legislation has made small cars too big and heavy. I was looking again at the New Clio last week, you can no longer call it a small car. I read somewhere that it's the same size as the MK1 Focus!

I am sure when all these CR diesels are costing their 3rd and 4th owners a fortune to keep running, there will be a kick back to more sensible technology.

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