A quick update on how I got on, if anyone's interested. Took the train up to Leeds yesterday to view the car. Was shown around the car and given the opportunity for a rather brief test drive (just a few times around the car park, only got up to third gear). However, the car was in the condition described on the website, was well presented and pretty much exactly what you'd expect of a one-owner, company, highish mileage compact executive. Checked the HPI report and had a look at the VOSA website to see the advisories from its first MOT, and was happy to get my card out.
Chatting with the guy who served me while I was making the purchase was quite interesting: there's no commission for them on the cars they sell, but they do get commission for other things they sell: warranty, finance, GAP insurance etc. I decided to take three years' warranty (on paper it looks good, but of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating with these things) but politely declined overpriced finance and pointless GAP cover. Not high-pressure salesmanship, but had to sit through the spiel before turning the products down!
The salesman had some interesting statistics too - they may not be accurate but if they are they're quite illuminating. He reckoned around a third of people get cars delivered without viewing them; about 99% of people who view the cars go on to buy them; and about three quarters of people take up warranty, GAP cover or finance.
Drove the car back home and it felt great - everything that I was expecting. I also drove the car to work today (35 miles each way) and it performed very securely in the snow on the M1. According to the trip computer I got 41MPG out of it too on the journey to and from work - very happy with that if it's accurate, given what some people are getting out of the 2.4. I'll see if a spreadsheet backs this figure up when I've been through my first tankful.
Two small niggles: somewhat crackly radio reception, and loss of power steering loss when doing low-speed manoeuvres with the clutch partly depressed. Does anyone else have any provlems with the latter? I think I may need to give it a bit more gas when I'm doing this (and I have stalled a couple of times
- it's been a while since I drove a diesel), so perhaps a problem with my driving style, but would be interested to know if anyone else has any problems with this.
Thanks again for all your advice! I'm enjoying being part of the club.