Citroen Saxo Hatchback 1996-1999


Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Cheap and affordable
  • A good first car
  • Fun to drive

Cons:

  • Space is limited
  • Lack of safety features

Overview

The Citroen Saxo Hatchback is an extremely fun car to drive and is extremely cheap to purchase second hand. The most sought after are the VTS and VTR sports versions of the car as they are quick, nippy and extremely fun to drive. The Saxo comes as a 3 or a 5-door version but both of them are a little on the small side for back seat passengers. The drivers' seat and steering wheel have a fixed height and with the pedals being situated off to one side it may take drivers a while to find the most comfortable position.

Exterior and Interior

The Saxo may be small, but it is a sporty looking small car which was further improved with a facelift in 2000. It comes with either three of five doors, but both of the derivatives are the same overall size. This means the backseats will be cramped no matter which model you opt for. The space up front for the driver and front seat passenger is better, however, the seats are very soft which feel nice on short drives, but can become extremely uncomfortable on long ones. The drivers' seat and steering wheel are set at a fixed height which may make the driving position uncomfortable for drivers who are shorter. The boot space is small, but should be big enough to get your weekly shop in comfortably. The interior is very minimal and the cheap looking dash doesn't improve things. There is a wide range of trim levels to choose from starting with the basic X trim coming with cloth seats and colour-coded bumpers. The top of the range VTR and VTS offer the best levels of trim with the VTS coming with Alloy wheels, ABS, Alarm, driver and passenger airbags, CD player, electric sunroof, electric windows, remote locking and a service indicator. Safety wise the Saxo only comes with a driver's airbag as standard and only received a 2 star rating from EURO NCAP.

Performance and Economy

The VTR and VTS models were the most popular when they were first released due to their increased power levels. The 99bhp 1.6-litre VTR was the most popular thanks to the car being nippy around town and the fun feeling it gives when driving. The more powerful 120bhp 1.6-litre VTS didn't sell as well and is rarer to find, but it does perform better and is a lot quicker. The 60bhp 1.1-litre and 75bhp 1.4-litre are good as well, but the 1.40-litre is the better of these two with the 1.1-litre really struggling when pushed or when fully loaded. The 1.5-litre diesel should be considered for those that are willing to compromise on power to obtain a higher mpg. The diesel only produces 58bhp, but the fuel economy is excellent managing 50mpg. This is compared to the 1.1-litre and 1.4-litre's 40mpg and the 1.6-litre's coming in at 35 and 32mpg. The Saxo is light and offers direct handling which makes it fun to drive with any of the engines sizes. There is the option of either manual or automatic, but the manual would be the better choice as it changes gear smoothly and is less likely to break down on you.

Like to Drive

Overall it is fun to drive with the faster engines being nice and nippy and the suspension keeps the wheels planted on the road which helps with the cornering. The seats can become uncomfortable on longer drives though as they are a little too soft.

Faults and Repairs

As the Saxo is usually bought as a first car by many people it often doesn't get the care it should have, and really needs. Due to this there can be problems with the suspension, brakes and clutch. You should always check the oil filler cap as some may be filled with gunk which could indicate further, more serious problems. Spare parts are cheap though and with the basic setup of the Saxo any mechanic worth his salt should be able to repair it easily enough. The facelift in 2000 sorted out most of the reliability problems so if you are looking at getting one look for one made from this time onwards.