I loved that car and drove it into the ground, so I thought stepping into a new Mitsubishi would evoke fond memories when I picked up the keys to our long-term Space Star 1.9 DI-D S.
In a way it did because I felt like I had stepped into a time- warp. After five years on the market and even with its revamp in 2002, the Space Star doesn't exactly feel cutting edge.
The plastic interior trim looks cheap and cheerful, the centre console housing the heating and stereo controls is plain and sparse and the readout of the digital display above the console looks like a multi-function wristwatch.
The panels on the inside of the door seem to regularly trap the seatbelt between the door and seat, resulting in a fight to free it and the central locking 'plip' of our test car appears to have three modes – not working, lock and lock-unlock.
It even seems to pretend to lock then unlocks again, resulting in me having to double check each time I leave the car.
I have also found that, in the dark winter afternoons, I miss having a centre interior light to illuminate the rear seats, especially when transporting my toddler, who likes to read her Teletubbies comic in the car.
A minor fault also caused a recent panic. When running low on fuel, the filler cap cover refused to open. After several attempts to open it, a phone call to the local dealer advised that it was a two person job to unstick it – one to pull the catch beside the driver's seat and another to prise the flap open with a pen. After getting it open and filling up I took the car to our local dealer, who decided all it needed was a squirt of WD40. The problem has not happened since, so it looks like the WD40 has done the trick.
On the plus side, the Space Star did live up to my 'Mitsubishi memories' of being nippy and comfortable to drive.
I have yet to attain the quoted combined fuel economy of 51.4mpg – my best being 46.7mpg – but with the chilly mornings biting, the choke working overtime and the heating on full blast, consumption has dipped as low as 39.3mpg over the test period. Although rather dated, the Space Star can hold its own against newer rivals as it has a relatively good residual value combined with a low on-the-road price.
Take the Ford Focus 1.8 Ghia TDCi. At £14,763 on-the-road and with a residual value of 28% according to CAP Monitor or £4,150, it loses £10,613 over three years and 60,000 miles.
The Peugeot 307 2.0 HDi S at £13,713 and with a residual value of 33% or £4,450 loses £9,263 over three years and 60,000 miles.
The Space Star with a price of £13,012 on-the-road and a residual value of 31% or £3,975 loses only £9,037 over three years and 60,000 miles.
Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £42 per month