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Friday 21st December 2012


SOTW: CITROEN SAXO VTR

A warm Saxo that's miraculously still standard... and way under budget, too. It's a rare treat!


We all have our own privately-held ideas of perfect moments. Some involve Page Three lassies in confectionery-based environments, others involve Piers Morgan in less comfortable circumstances.

Standard... well... everything. Surely not?!
Standard... well... everything. Surely not?!
For Shed, the perfect moment is finding a nice little car with T&T, no obvious issues and a bargain price. What better time than Christmas, the time of giving and good will to all men, and traffic police, to share such a moment?

Lo, let us gaze in wonderment at the automotive equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls – an unmessed-with Citroen Saxo VTR.

Gape in open-mouthed wonder at its unlowered suspension. Suspend your disbelief at the pristine condition of its unsullied flanks and unscraped front end. Salivate at the sight of its gouge-free alloys, possibly – could it be? surely not? – wearing tyres not made in China.

Someone more uncouth than Shed might liken it all to finding a virgin in a whorehouse. He’s not like that, obviously, but he is feeling slightly faint. Hang on a minute… hang on… it’s got low mileage as well. Oh no. It's all too much.

OK, OK... we confess, it's got an aftermarket stereo
OK, OK... we confess, it's got an aftermarket stereo
The Mk2 Saxo is one of those rare cars that’s looking better with age. Our Shed is not a 16v 120bhp VTS, but the VTR’s spunky little 8-valve 1.6 squirts out 97bhp. It may not sound that much in today’s money but it’s still enough in a sub-900kg car to deliver a 120mph top end, and a 0-60 time not far off 8 seconds. Cheap to insure relative to the VTS, and cheaper to shoe too with 14in wheels (VTS had 15s). Steering is quick, body roll is well contained, lift-off oversteer is available on demand. All boxes ticked.

What’s wrong with it then, apart from it having the same name as a packet of salt? Well, it’s a French supermini from the early 2000s, so draw your own conclusions as regards long-term quality. Nor is it face-meltingly rapid at the top end, an 8-valve trait exacerbated by long gearing, but having half the correct number of valves means there’s decent get up and go from low revs around town.

The beauty of little cars that are light on their feet is that tyres and brakes can last ages if you don’t thrape them around everywhere. Or lower them too much, as that crocks the driveshafts and suspension bushes.

Respectable mileage means Shed heaven
Respectable mileage means Shed heaven
Talking of feet, if you’re saddled with wide ones you may not get on with it as there’s not much room in the footwell. And talking of brakes, servos can fail. Wheel bearings go, so does the power steering. ECU faults are not uncommon, a problem often caused by failing Sagem coilpacks. If you buy this car and it’s got one of them replace it immediately with a Bougicord one.

Inside, seat sliders are a bit flimsy, and take along a bottle of water so you can check the sunroof seals are still water-tight - Saxo roofs often get a bit leaky.

But on the up side, 40+ mpg, 7 months MOT, and tax till, er, Monday week… only Shed’s legendary sense of fair play and fear of being done for insider trading is preventing immediate purchase. Nothing to stop you though. Merry Christmas.


Here's the original ad:

CITROEN SAXO VTR 2001 LOW MILEAGE  (£799)

2001 X reg
1.6, 5-speed
Metallic red
61k miles
Tax until 31/12/12 and 7 months MOT
2 New front tyres 
3 Door, 5 seats
central locking
spare key
Radio/CD/AUX/USB head unit
Power-assisted steering

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