SOTW: Citroen Saxo VTR


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

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (170) Join the discussion on the forum

  • MGJohn 09 Jan 2013

    Would you Adam and Eve it!

    My cousin phoned me up couple of days ago. She was upset, the clutch on her 51-Reg Saxo she bought from new had expired .... again! She is a bit heavy on the clutch but, I suspect these components are a bit fragile.

    Last time this happened the broken up Clutch Plate took out the Crankshaft Sensor so the engine would not run. That did not happen this time. Previously she had the main dealership repair the car and did not get much change out of £500! I contacted the competent one-man business I use occasionally and was quoted £250 for the job.

    This time the engine would start immediately but, no drive.

    With my younger son in the stricken Citroen, I towed there late yesterday afternoon and at 09.30 this morning got a call advising job done. Quick work indeed.

    Here's why. The technician kept the old components. The little clutch plate was devoid of any trace of friction material ~ all that remained of that had seperated and was on the workshop floor! Look at the state of this clutch plate! The flywheel was very blue from the excess of heat apparently but, still serviceable. It drove home OK.




  • s m 29 Dec 2012

    richb77 said:
    I'm not sure how these compare to their successor (C2) but i ran a C2 GT for two years and it was the most "back to basics" fun i have ever had.

    Did 40+mpg, NOTHING broke or went wrong. fast and at 6ft 5in comfortable!

    I wouldn't hesitate to have another small sporty Citroen. I bought mine as a stop gap runabout and hate parting with it!
    Had a Saxo VTS for 4 years from new - PAS fluid reservoir pipe not cinched up on delivery, ( few turns with a screwdriver sorted that ), broken side skirt plastic clip and a defective lambda sensor ( took about 3 garage visits and some prodding to get them to diagnose it correctly before being fixed under warranty ) were the only things that went wrong in 50k miles. One full set of Pirelli P700-z and about a further set and a half of the O.E. Michelin SX GTs were the other real expense. Took it down to the South of France and Italy in baking June temps, ran over a snake, had a spirited run down the Col de Turini in company with a 156 V6, many trips through Wales, Cornwall...... Was an excellent little car and have only good memories but that's the upside of buying from new



    Did try the C2 as a replacement as the dealer remembered me buying the VTS but it just didn't seem to hit the same spot for me, although I'm sure it is a great fun car


  • richb77 29 Dec 2012

    I'm not sure how these compare to their successor (C2) but i ran a C2 GT for two years and it was the most "back to basics" fun i have ever had.

    Did 40+mpg, NOTHING broke or went wrong. fast and at 6ft 5in comfortable!

    I wouldn't hesitate to have another small sporty Citroen. I bought mine as a stop gap runabout and hate parting with it!

  • pSyCoSiS 28 Dec 2012

    Kitchski said:
    Damn those journos wanting to have a break over the hols, eh?!
    HAHAHA! I have seen a few other articles appear, but not a SOTW!

    Look forward to next week's one then!

  • Kitchski 28 Dec 2012

    pSyCoSiS said:
    No SOTW this week?!
    Damn those journos wanting to have a break over the hols, eh?!

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