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We have a 1997 2litre petrol picnic. The car has huge miles (145000) and a full dealer service history.
I cant fault the reliability as in 2 years the car has only once developed a fault and this was in the electronics - this is where the experience gets tricky. Sourcing these cars in breakers etc. is very difficult and this makes parts expensive. If you can find a breaker who has one they are usually as expensive as a new part due to the scarcity of them.
Apart from that and the thirst element (mine averages 26mpg!) the car is great for running kids to school and when the rear seats are removed (only the rear 2) there is a decent sized boot - of course with all the seats in place there is no luggage room but this is the same as all MPV's.
In conclusion, if you can get a good one with a service history (never mind the mileage as they will go forever) and its the right price - buy it. However my advice is to BUY A DIESEL!
Following other members advice in their comments ill add some further details.
The car handle reasonably well, you feel a bit wary about throwing it into a corner at 60mph due to its height and the small wheels (they are only 14"!) but it come out of the corner well enough, the standrad handling is fine - not too floaty or hard. Someone else asked about the mileage, I know many people have a car that knocks out 150000+ miles but these are usually older vehicles from 7-8 years ago - in those days it was rust and build quality that sent a car to the breakers yard, now a computer chip blowing can resign a car there. I merely commented on the high mileage as this is a 5 year old car, how many corsa's etc will rack up that sort of mileage (except the diesels)? The2litre engine in fairness is adequate and the car is spritely enough, but with 6 people in the car it can feel a bit pushed and the consumption heads into the 15-16mpg range. Im sure the larger engines are better. The interior is robust, sturdy and boring but again unbreakable. Hope this helps.
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EXIDE FB1004 FORMULA range Starting power: 720A Polarity: + on the right Casing: D31 - 15% more starting power compared to a standard battery - Central ventilation with spark protection - Visual charge indicator for quick checking of charge level - Totally maintenance free - Perfectly conforms to the most demainding car manufacturers' specifications This type of battery is used to start equipment or machinery (e.g. vehicles, trucks, generators). The electrolyte in these batteries is liquid and this allows for a fast exchange of the ions between the electrode plates allowing high discharge rates to be supported. Please recharge the battery once received and before the first use to ensure the best possible performance. Our products are stored in our warehouse which is equipped with a charging are to guarantee you optimum quality. As part of our ISO 9001 quality procedure, quality control tests are frequently carried out on all our products.