Somehow I found myself as the not-very-proud owner of a Ford Fiesta XR2, bought for the bargain price of pounds 2,500.

To me it looked immaculate, finished in a distinctive metallic blue, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I didn't even bother to take it for a test drive, which was a big mistake.

As soon as I got into the XR2 I knew I'd made a terrible mistake - and just a few miles later it ran out of petrol on the motorway. That bad omen signalled that a whole load of problems were heading my way.

The exhaust fell off, the water pump went, and a load of other niggling failures got my back up. And its unreliability wasn't my major gripe. It was mainly that a Fiesta XR2 had no real character, or soul.

As a result I really never enjoyed driving it, and I slowly realised that it had no real power. I would accelerate and wait for something, anything, to happen. The handling was truly awful; you had to persuade it go around corners, and I always felt as though it might fall off.

Worst of all, it was far too "boy racer", and that was not the image I was trying to project. I don't know why I didn't realise it at the time.

The one redeeming feature was the exhaust note, but that was only because I replaced the one that fell off with a performance item which sounded really great. That noise was not enough to persuade me to keep the XR2, so after just three months I sold it. I swore never again to lumber myself with such a naff car. I replaced it with a Peugeot 205 GTi, probably one of the best cars I have ever owned.

Tristram Payne is co-presenter of Channel 5's 'The Car Show', a new series of which begins in June. He was speaking to James Ruppert

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