Right, well let me start by saying what I have. Its a 2003 147 JTD 16V 5dr Lusso. My old man has a 2001 5dr Rover 25 DiS (100ps).
MPG wise the Rover is unquestionably better than the 147. My dad can get 70mpg on long runs where as the best I'll get is around 65. Then again the 147 is considerably heavier (200kg's+) and I run the climate control all the time (which I don't reakon saps much fuel anyway).
Performance wise, the 147 is obviously quicker, although it doesn't really feel it. This is largely due to the gearing being longer, considerably more sound proofing and a far far far far far quieter engine!!! That Perkins diesel is just unbeleivably noisy
. The car really cruises so nicely though. It's such a comfortable car for long journeys especially as the seats are so comforting.
Handeling wise, the 147 is a really good car. Its not chuckable like my old Fiesta Zetec and the chassis is not the best around, but its still a really good car. It seems to handling high speed corning much better than it does low speed tight twisty stuff. The double wishbone front suspension gives awesome traction even in the wet, but the new Q2 LSD really aids the prevention of inside wheel spinning up. The only real downer with this car IMO is the sometimes crashy suspension when going over potholes. Also the steering is very sensitive so when you hit potholes or drive over uneven surfaces at speed, you tend to get thrown off course a bit. It takes a little getting used to, but its really just knit picking I guess.
Build quality wise is a vast improvement over a 25, but then again so it should as it cost more. The fit and finish of my car is very nice, although some 147's seem to have poor panel fit i.e the front wings/bonnet. The seating position is just right too for a person over 6ft.
I have done 65k and been the first owner so your situation is obviously slightly different from mine but at 30k you should have most problems sorted by then. You are right about all these tales though...my dads done 120k in his 25 and its been a good car, yet people slate Rover - the same can be said of Alfa too.
So, you have a idea as to what it compares to a 25 or ZR diesel.
In response to your direct questions, here goes:
1). Hmmm not sure - sorry!
2). Easily acheivable 50mpg+ and as high as 65mpg.
3). The 8v feels more like the Rover diesel (and the VW's PD)....feels very very rapid low down but runs out of puff higher up the rev range. The 16v is more like a petrol engine which can be more revvy
4). Its quick, but obviously not fast as in the GTA figures! - test drive one!
5). Its firm and the suspension is all wrong when it comes to the settings - the dampers are too hard for the springs so they aren't well matched, although this can be sorted with after market kits. The geometry is 100% right though and the core design is superb - mac pherson struts with independant rear suspension gives the rear end a secure feel whilst the double wishbone front suspension is traction happy!
6). Already explained.
a). Cruise control works by reaching the speed you want to drive at, say 70mph and you enable the stalk and then the car sticks at it. To disable it, either turn off the stalk or put your foot on the clutch or brake. Once Cruise Control is enabled you can also alter the speed by using the +/- on the stalk without having to using the accelerator/brake...in other words a remote controlled car
b). You set the temp on the dials and it maintains it - quite simple I guess! As you have dual climate on Lusso models you will be able to set a temperature for the driver and passenger individually, after all the driver gets hotter than the passengers! It works suprisingly well, but only on long journeys, otherwise its just like standard climate control.
c). They operate the stereo....the left ones change the volume up or down, the right ones change the station/track backwards/forwards. With Connect Sat Nav versions you also have a phone button which you press in order to accept calls when people phone you. There are some other Sat Nav buttons too, but I don't know what they are!
d). It displays the outside temp, station name, time, date, cruise control enabled light, error messages, MPG actual, MPG average, speed average, etc etc!!! - in other words virtually everything!
8). Need I answer that? Just look at it....it feels so special classy and unique.
Anyway, any other questions, just ask!