You would do well to avoid any of these vehicles with a "clicking" noise coming from under the hood. This is what mine had and due to the same sound occurring on my previous car without any problems, this did not trouble me. About 3 months after purchasing the vehicle, there was a sound similar to that made when grounding a vehicle after a particularly high speed turn, then there was a severe loss of power. This turned out to be a dead motor ... which ended up costing more than the original price of the vehicle. Do not buy this vehicle unless it has a complete maintenance history with every possible thing that could go wrong being fixed prior to buying.
Performance, handling, total driving experience. The Contour SVT excells in all categories. Last year I took mine to an autocross competition and even the instructors were amazed at how well this car performed. We ran it through a training course and it did so well on the skidpad that we had to force it to break-loose to demonstrate the throttle- steer technique. I have driven and owned performance cars since I began driving (1964) and this car is the best "out-of-the-box" performer I have owned.
A true sports sedan! Although this car does not have the horsepower of some of the post "Fast and Furious" cars you see on the road today it sure moves. Honestly, after almost seven years of ownership it is even more fun to drive now than the day I bought it, can you ask for anything more out of a car?
I had a blast test driving this car. I started out driving Neons etc. But this car was a kick in the pants. Most people can't believe it's a Contour. They think its a Mitsubithingamagiggy. Now I have 108,000. With zero problems. Mileage is 27-28 a gallon. I do have clunking noise coming from the front end, when I take off. Strut? Nice car for the price.