I bought a 1998 Ford Laser back in 2006 second-hand and have recently let it go to get a new Mazda. While I doubt many people are in the market for a 1998 Laser, I figured I'd write about my 10 years with it.
It's reliability was excellent! Besides servicing and the odd brake pad and battery change, the only major issues with the car were the need for a new clutch (5 years) and the airconditoner eventually stopped working (7 years, didn't bother replacing by then, and I'd also given up on servicing the car by then too. Still ran fine until the end). The front and rear seats were soft and cushy, the boot was large and capacious, the spare tyre was full-sized and being second-hand and a small car, servicing and running costs were pretty low.
The engine's performance, while far from breathtaking, was still sufficient for urban and highway driving without feeling like you're struggling, although it struggles on hills or if you're loaded with 4-5 adults.
Negatives? The car only had one airbag (for the driver) so safety for other passengers would be a big issue. And while the car is 18 years old, a radio/cassette system is pretty obsolete and if the car battery was removed/replaced, the system could only be reactivated with a password so you'd have to make sure you didn't misplace it. Power steering is also pretty lacklustre, requiring a bit of effort if you need to turn the steering wheel in a full lock.
So while the Ford Laser isn't exactly the newest or flashiest model, it's been a reliable and practical vehicle for me and will be missed.