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In the hunt for a new car: ~£5000

Discussion in 'Motors' started by elkdanger, 10 May 2006.

  1. elkdanger

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 11 Mar 2003

    Posts: 1,328

    Location: North Shields

    'allo

    As titled really. Max budget is £5000, looking to trade in my Astra for something... better. Must be manual transmission and run on Unleaded, and not too expensive on the insurance. But at the same time I'm after something a bit nippy. At the moment I have an Mk3 Astra Sport 1.8L 16v, which I believe is around 119bhp (may not be fast for some, but compared to my first car it's awesome), and I'm looking to replace it with something similarly specced but obviously a bit newer.

    Cars I'm looking at are:

    * Focus 1.8 Zetec - I've driven a few of these and I like them, but I'd like to see what else I could get for my money
    * Puma 1.7i - I've read these are good handling cars, and I do like the look of them inside and out, but seems to be in a higher insurance group than it's peers.
    * MG ZR - I like the look and they look nice inside, but the only models I've seen are either 1.4L petrol or 2.0 DTi. Anyone have any experience with the 1.4?
    *Astra Mk4 with a similar spec to my Mk3.

    Anyone any thoughts? Wouldn't mind seeing what else is available. There's a garage up the road from me that has a MG ZR on the forecourt, will take a trip up at the weekend and see if I can test-drive it. At the moment however I'm leaning towards the Puma - any reason not to go for one?
     
  2. cymatty

    Capodecina

    Joined: 27 Sep 2004

    Posts: 13,305

    Location: South Yorkshire

    The puma is a good car, decent engine and brilliant handling, have you looked a 2ltr focus ig 8 130bhp, should be quick enough for you. :)
     
  3. saitrix

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 2 Jun 2003

    Posts: 8,944

    Location: Loughborough

    Either the 2.0 Focus Zetec or the 1.7 Puma.
     
  4. Zirax

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 25 Apr 2004

    Posts: 2,486

    Location: Chelmsford

    I have a 1.8 Focus, I don't think that there is much power difference between it and your astra. If you are finding your astra slow, the focus will tire quickly.

    I have driven a 1.4 ZR. It had 17" standard wheels, but had front and rear strut braces fitted. Not bad handling wise, just the ride was a touch harsh (compared to the focus) although it is meant to be the sporty version so its understandable. As for performance, well being the 1.4 it was completely gutless :(
     
  5. Firestar_3x

    Caporegime

    Joined: 11 Mar 2005

    Posts: 30,315

    Location: Leafy Cheshire

    Puma for me thanks :)
     
  6. Scottland

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 15,257

    Location: North Wales

    I'm looking for a Puma or a Focus at the moment. Puma's the more "fun" car, but I'm having trouble finding a good one without travelling the length and breadth of the country.

    Insurance wise, its about £50 dearer over a 1.8 Focus with Admiral.

    Power wise, I think the 1.7 engine in the Puma puts out about the same power as the 2.0 Focus
     
  7. excaliborg

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 30 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,232

    Location: Northwich, Cheshire

    Xsara VTS? 167bhp and you'll be able to pick up a fairly new one with all the extras for that price.
     
  8. [TW]Fox

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 156,384

    Yup, either this or the 2.0 16v Focus - dont bother with the 1.8.
     
  9. Scottland

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 15,257

    Location: North Wales

    I cant help but thing at 5k, you're really wandering into Clio 172 territory.

    Insurance will be dearer though, but it might be worth running a couple of quotes and seeing what you get?

    It is smaller than the Astra, Focus etc, but there's more room than the Puma.
     
  10. ajgoodfellow

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Dec 2004

    Posts: 11,332

    Location: Shirley, Solihull, UK

    Great cars. Awful plasticy interior but that's about the only bad point! Expensive compared to rivals as they hold onto their value

    Great cars. Based on the old Fiesta so handle rather nicely. The 1.7 or the Racing Puma is the one to get - don't bother wih the 1.4 or 1.6

    Again, nice cars. You have four engine options - a 105 PS 1.4, 120 PS 1.8, 160 PS 1.8 and the 2 litre turbo diesel

    The 1.4 has about the same power as most 1.6s but will go a little better than the 1.6 Focus et al as it's a smaller car. From a 1.8 Astra though you'd probably be looking for a bit more oomph

    The 1.8 120 is a great compromise between performance and insurance. Only a little bit more to insure but smaller than a Focus so pretty nippy (0-60 8.5 seconds). Rare though but the pick of the range IMO if insurance is an issue (the vast majority of buyers either went for the 1.4 for insurance reasons or went the full hog for the 1.8 160 VVC)

    The 160 is fast (0-60 7 seconds) but expensive to insure. Otherwise, it's about the same as the rest

    The diesel is an old design. Economical but a bit rough

    Great cars to drive. I've got the 1.8 120+ on standard 16" wheels and it handles very well. Great fun

    Get the + spec though. The basic spec is very very basic (no electric windows, no central locking, etc)

    Underrated IMO.

    That would be something like the 1.8 SRI or the 2.2 SRI (only 10 bhp more but a fair amount more to insure than the 1.8).

    Great cars, a lot better than the previous Mk 3. Not as good to drive as the Focus or MG ZR but very capable

    17" Standard on a 1.4? They aren't I'm afraid - they're either factory options or retro fitted :)

    It does have a hard ride, but it's not too hard IMO. Definitely harsher than the Focus, Astra, Fiesta et al. The trade off is decent handling

    The 1.4 ZR produces a lot for a 1.4 (105 PS). This is about the same as the 1.6 Focus and the 1.6 Astra but it's smaller - it's only a little bigger than a supermini. It's pretty good, about 10 sec to 60 so similar performance to the 1.6 Focus and Astra

    £5k is Clio 172 territory though as stated. These are superb cars - my housemate had a 182. I haven't driven one but my housemate threw his around and it handled well and they get good write ups. They're loaded with driver aids so if you make a mistake (as my housemate did) you have a better chance of recovering it. Very expensive to insure though
     
  11. [TW]Fox

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 156,384

    Although the Focus manages to have a nicer ride *and* better handling than the ZR.
     
  12. Zirax

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 25 Apr 2004

    Posts: 2,486

    Location: Chelmsford

    Sorry, it was an option, I meant standard mg wheels rather than aftermarket ones :)
     
  13. ajgoodfellow

    Capodecina

    Joined: 24 Dec 2004

    Posts: 11,332

    Location: Shirley, Solihull, UK

    Ah, cool :)
     
  14. Conanius

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,371

    well, ive owned two of your shortlist, and driven another.

    Focus - Used to own a 1.8 TDCi Zetec, great car, fantastic on the motorway, and great for pilling stuff in. Really enjoyed it for random fun on the roads, but wasnt very.. erm... exciting when it came to engine notes..

    Puma - Currently own a 1.7 VCT (non Racing) puma. To be honest, I think its fantastic, BUT. I am a mere 5ft something, and as such, the cramped internals dont bother me. If I was much taller, I dont know how id cope with it, a lot of the guys at work cant get in properly, and some just cant sit in the car at all. Its engine note imo is fantastic, and it handles a treat. in real world driving, you can ignore that 0-60 figure, you need 3rd gear to get to it, and as such your actually not that slow at all really, ive had a go against some quite nippy hatches and coped just fine. id imagine with the extra power the racing puma is a right tool

    ZR - bit of an odd one here. my only experience is that this was the car ARDS used for track familiarisation and drving technique scoring. It was the 1.8 160 model and imo was a good drive, however, all I was doing was ragging it round a track for a few laps, not so sure how it would have coped in real world conditions, but the interior was noticably cheap.
     
  15. [TW]Fox

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 156,384

    What happened to that big Rover 800 and Mondeo 2.0 in front of you on those twisty B roads near Swindon then? :p

    Oh they vanished :p
     
  16. Conanius

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 12,371

    as I said, brakes are sorted now, happy to revisit whenever ;)

    as for andys rover, that was actually quicker, every time we got to a straight, by the time I was in 3rd gear he was just pulling away too fast, on one of the straight sections by the time I was reaching for 4th he had literally vanished :eek:

    by the way, you know you warned me about the p6000, in the rain the other day, i nearly cried its goodyear eagle NCT5's all over again !
     
  17. olv

    Soldato

    Joined: 12 Jan 2005

    Posts: 5,281

    Location: london

    I'm quite tempted to get a puma this summer/autumn. hear nothing but good things about them.

    what are the running costs like and reliability like? I assume they are quite cheap to fix. i'd probably look at a 98/99 with 60/70k. as long as it's had its cambelt done i assume there isn't anything else major?
     
  18. elkdanger

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 11 Mar 2003

    Posts: 1,328

    Location: North Shields

    Thanks for all the comments so far.

    The Clio and the Xsara VTS I hadn't thought about - I shall have a look around today.

    Conanius: I'd never even thought about the cramped internals. I'm 6"1' and judging by your comment I may have a problem being comfortable in the car. I'll probably still test drive one though, just in case.

    The Focus is still an option if I can find a 2.0L Zetec, and after doing a bit of thinking may be preferrable over the Puma for practicality reasons - I may have to cart around a drum kit more often than not, and I would need the extra space. So even the Clio may be out of the picture aswell. I'll continue to have a look around today.

    One side question I had is: I have a MP3 head unit that I'd like to fit into whatever car I buy. How easy is this to do in something like the Focus? The Ford radio units seem pretty integrated into the dash..
     
  19. saitrix

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 2 Jun 2003

    Posts: 8,944

    Location: Loughborough

    Really easy. You get removal tool that gets the stock HU out. Then you buy a blanking plate for it, nice and easy really. Also in the Focus you can fit up to 17cm speakers in the doors, only bad point is that stock it does not come with any tweeters.