I wouldnt put a list of Fords up there to sway him lol... Under powered pieces of trash.
My mates 1.6 Escort had what, 90 bhp when it came out the factory. My Alfa was 120, and now the MG has 107, but is miles quicker than the Alfa. All 1.6
Saxos are good for handling etc, the only problem is that as has been mentioned, a lot has been done to them over the years, and its difficult to make them different.
Elliot, on second thoughts, I reckon you should go for the rally look. Will be a bit more expensive, and harder to live with, but I doubt youll ever get rid of it then