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Citroën Saxo 1.6i VTR

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13 Reviews
  • Reliability
  • Poor build quality - you get what you pay for
  • Cannot 'feel' much when driving
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    13 Reviews
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      28.11.2010 21:25
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      Iconic 'warm' hatch that looks great and nearly has the performance to match.

      As a twenty-something at the time, buying my Saxo VTR was my first foray into the world of the 'hot hatch'. That said, by the time I reached my thirties I had graduated to 200bhp+ beasts and, in hindsight, can only truthfully describe my trusty Saxo as 'warm' rather than 'hot'. But I've got fond memories of the little Citroen, and it was probably an essential stepping stone to more powerful cars.

      I decided to go for the 8 valve VTR over the 16 valve VTS, mainly to keep the insurance costs down; group 7 versus group 14. Both engines are 1.6 litres, the VTR generating 90bhp with the VTS weighing in at 120bhp. Performance figures vary depending on where you look, but the VTR is generally quoted in the region of 9.5 seconds to 60mph, in contrast to around 7.5 seconds for the VTS; so you can see how the gulf in insurance groups came about.

      I kind of regret not swallowing the heftier insurance premium for the VTS, but at the end of the day the VTR was plenty quick enough for me with the level of experience I had at the time. Also, having driven much quicker cars since, I have to say my memory of the VTR is that it felt much quicker than it appeared on paper.

      I opted for a car in metallic 'Poseidon Blue', which is probably the most popular colour available as the other options aren't particularly inspiring. The VTR sat on 14" concave alloys, which are a defining element of the appeal of the car in my opinion. They really fit well with the styling of the wider wheel arches and body styling afforded to the VTR model; much more so than the VTS alloys. With the exception of the wing mirrors, the car came with fully colour coded bumpers. Oddly though, I did see a few other VTRs of the same age as mine (1998, R-plate) with a black plastic trim above the rear number plate. Seems odd that this should be an additional option to have colour coded, but I'm not sure what other explanation there could be for this. The windows had a very slight tint to them, which further enhanced the look of the car. The overall effect is that the VTR really does look significantly sleeker and sportier than the standard Saxos.

      On the inside the VTR is less inspiring, and you are reminded of the class and budget range of the car that you're driving. The dash is all quite solid, but has a rather cheap plastic feel to it, and doesn't fill you with a sense of anticipation. The upholstery in my car was dark grey in colour, which I was quite grateful for as some of the other options I saw displayed in other VTRs were truly horrendous and not at all in keeping with the theme of the car. The seats were comfy, but nothing close to the sports styled seats that you can expect from hot hatches these days. All in all, the interior of the car did not match the ambition exuded by the exterior.

      Feature wise there wasn't much to speak of beyond a CD player, electronic keypad controlled engine immobiliser (no alarm) and front fog lights. It also came with ABS as standard; not worth mentioning these days, but in 1998 this was quite a bonus to find in a car in this class. Mine had a sunroof too, albeit manually operated (and quite an effort to open so you probably won't want to attempt it whilst driving).

      The driving experience is the saving grace for the VTR, as it nearly lives up to the bold expectations set by the aggressive styling of the car's exterior. The aforementioned 90bhp is put to good use, and power is delivered nice and evenly via the 5-speed gearbox. Combine this with the responsive steering and fantastic grip levels from the low profile Michelin Pilots (not cheap!) and the result was a rewarding drive. A bit more pull in the mid range would have been nice (that's what the VTS is for), but ultimately it made a good balance as however vigorously I threw it around roundabouts and corners, it was satisfyingly and reassuringly planted. This makes is a great car for town/city driving or short commutes, but it doesn't hold up particularly well for longer journeys, particularly on motorways, as tyre/engine noise levels are a little intrusive over time and it isn't the most comfortable car over long distances.

      An additional consideration that may be more of an issue if considering longer journeys is safety. The VTR comes with a driver's airbag as standard, but not much else besides the ABS already mentioned. The car only scored two Euro NCAP stars, which I guess isn't surprising given the lack of safety features coupled with its diminutive size; the likely outcome of it being in a serious collision probably doesn't bear thinking about.

      Running costs are pretty good with the VTR, considering the tendency to put your foot down a little every now and then. Official figures quote somewhere in the region of 36mpg, but my experience was that this was understated and I reckon I got more like 40-42mpg. Servicing is cheap, although the suggested interval isn't that long at 9000 miles. I had no reliability issues with the car in the couple of years I owned it.

      In summary, the VTR is a fun, nippy little hatchback that is great as a relatively cheap way to get from A-B reasonably quickly. It carries an unfortunate association with 'boy-racers' for very good reasons, but it isn't the worst car in the world for a hot-headed teenager to be driving, as it does look after you in the way that it sticks to the road, and doesn't offer you so much power as to become overtly dangerous. The downsides are the cheap interior and the lack of safety features. There are more modern warm/hot hatches in this class nowadays, which improve on just about everything about the VTR, except maybe its looks. But as far as bang for buck goes, and providing you don't put the thing into a wall, you might not find a cheaper way to make your first steps into performance motoring (and make the supermarket run a bit more fun!).

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      07.08.2010 22:18
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      For a cheap car which is fun to drive, you won't beat one of these.

      I bought one of these in 2005 to see me through my Uni days, and I absolutely loved it!

      Unfortunately, the Saxo VTR's and VTS' seem to have become the weapon of choice for many a street cruising chav, but there is a good reason for that in that they are brilliant, and are so much fun to drive.

      The VTR model comes with a mere 97bhp, but because of the fact that the car is so light and low to the ground it feels like a lot more. If you throw the car into the corners it sticks like glue and almost feels like you're driving a go kart, making it great fun to drive.

      On the inside the Saxo is pretty standard. It comes with electric window, a CD head unit, and that is about it. The cloth seats which come as standard are horrible, and do not do much for a mans street credibility!

      Despite the fact that it is a hot hatch, the VTR is incredibly economical - I never bothered to work out proper MPG figures, but I used to get 100 miles out of £10, which I think is pretty good, especially going back a few years when fuel was cheaper.

      In terms of reliability, I never had any mechanical problems of any type, an I put about 90,000 miles on mine in about 4 years, which for a small petrol car is a lot. The only minor problem I had was the leaking sunroof which seems to be pretty standard. In the end I just mastic sealed mine shut, and that solved the issue.

      I got rid of mine about 3 years ago and I really wish I'd kept it.

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      06.05.2010 13:24

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      Cheap, fun, nippy car!

      I'm now on my second Citroen Saxo VTR and absolutely love them! They're such a great little car to drive, fair amount of power from a small engine and very cheap to buy now.
      With it being French it does come with the usual knocks, bangs and ratlles that French cars are notorious for, but if well maintained they will last.
      As mentioned previously they are very cheap to buy now, and you can get a lot for your money if you shop around.
      Another great feature of the Saxo VTR is the availibilty of aftermarket parts. You can literally change every aspect of the car to however you like, and many people have done so over the years of ownership. Weather it be cosmetic parts, interior of exterior, or engine/performance parts, all are readily available from so many places. eg eBay, Pistonheads, Saxperience.
      Summary: Great fun little nippy car that can serve many purposes.

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      03.02.2010 21:22
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      If you like a small nippy car that runs for miles, this ones for you but keep a brolly handy!

      I love my Saxo VTR 1.6 so much that when it got written off in April 2009 I bought myself the same car again in green!
      I can turn it on a six pence, I can park her in the smallest of spaces, I never have a problem getting out because the back window is plenty big enough to see everything from.
      Admittedly, I have had a few problems with her, one of which is the leaking sunroof. My car is on a 99 plate so its had a long time to "wear and tear" but I can assure you that an icy winter with a wet floor is not fun. Luckily I have a good mechanic and it will be fixed soon. Another notorious problem is the clutch. My clutch thrust bearing was at a point of bursting when I took it out, I got there just in time.
      Other than the basic normal servicing I haven't had to pay her much attention.
      If you like a car that you can clip body parts on and off, this is a car for you.
      The top speed in mine is about 125 - down hill, not that I know from experience of course! Its a nippy car and can accelerate pretty fast when you need to get out of a junction or roundabout.
      All in all, I would HONESTLY not swap my car for anything else, unless it was worth a lot more than mine!

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      25.01.2009 17:12
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      Good....but it needs 8 more valves

      I owned my 1998 Red Saxo VTR for about 2 years. All in all it was a very good car, do you buy one? It depends...read on!

      With a 1.6 litre 8 valve engine the car is far from slow. With 98bhp its not lacking in power, with most of it available in low revs.

      As with alot of French cars of this age, you do get the usual rattling from various places in the car, ,but with a bit of investigation work they're normally easy to elliminate. The front and rear bumpers have clips which can sometimes break, but again, easy enough to replace.


      The interior can seem quite empty when you first sit in the,car and is generally quite basic. A sun roof is provided, but with no air con, it can get quite stuffy on a hot summer day if you dont want to drive along with the windows open everywhere you go.

      The alternative to this car is of course the Saxo VTS...If you're reading this review, you're probably aware that this alternative exists, the details of which will be saved for a separate review.

      Summary - A nice cheap car, with relatively low insurance group (7) and easy to drive. The handling is excellent, these Saxo's are like go-karts. You can throw them into the silliest of corners and (tyres depending of course) they'll hold on. Fuel economy is okay and general running costs are good.

      Definitely a car to consider if you are looking for a relatively cheap, small second hand car.

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      16.05.2006 16:52
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      Blame citroen, if they put them together proplerly it would be soo much better

      This is my first review, so i`d warmly welcome any feedback :)

      I purchased my citroen saxo brand new in June of 2003, i`d always liked the look of the car and decided that i`d treat myself (19 years of age at the time), however i didn`t really plan on buying a new one, until i sat down and looked over the finance packages that is. As it happens it turned out that a new car, (with a nice low intersest rate of 4%) figured out only a fraction more expensive than a 3 year old model and even though not 21 i still recieved money off my insurance upon purchasing the car (although insurance had to be taken out with Citroen Insurance)and a thousand pounds cashback.
      I should have really known from the start that things would soon turn sour.
      As my soon to be new (Black £250 extra) car was on offer i couldn`t choose any extras... none... it had to be the standard model, bar of course the colour, a little dissapointed ( i wanted leather seats and air con ) i signed my life away none the less and awaited arrival day.
      As you can imagine i was itching to pick her up so was delighted when a phone call said i could it collect a whole week early. Only quarter full and with no mats (they had ran out? Maybe the monkeys where on strike?) away i went......

      It may seem like i`m ranting here but i`ll try and be constructive. Don`t get me wrong, new car drove and looked superb, i loved it and was very happy i had it, until...after about three weeks the drivers door rubber seal went and i had a foot well full of water. After a promt phone call this was fixed, and all went well, for about another 3 three weeks.
      I noticed that upon inspection it seemed that my "bodykit" seemed to be coming away from the rest of the car, rather worried i headed of back to the dealer. I was told this was only minor and just a loose clip or two and advised to drive to the larger dealership up the road for a quick repair. Here i was told this was a REAL problem and they needed the car back for 4 days to rebond the bodykit, spitting feathers i agreed a date and took up the offer of a courtessey car (which citroen duly tried to charge me for temporary cover, no chance, warranty job, i ain`t payin :))

      Maybe to trusting i picked my bebonded car up and drove home only to find all the rebonded fibre glass panels distorted and out of shape (kinda looked like some1 had kicked it over and over again), an early phone call next morning and a chat with the bodyshop manager i was duly informed this was a common problem, something about the fibre glass being rather thin (cheap in otherwords) and normal practice was to send away for a thicker bodykit. Second time round, and after some rerebonding all was nearly perfect ( still have a broken clip from back bumper to wheel arch drivers side to this day so not quite flush).

      My car is three years old next month and i`ve enjoyed it, but please be aware that there are so many little things that will annoy you, rattly door trims, windows and seats (normal for model, so i was told by the dealership? Didn`t catch that in the brochure) its a terrible shame, because i really do love my car,great handling, nice and quick, but at the end of the day its a cheap car with a load of bits stuck on, and from my experience the build quality really is quite poor. If your lookin for a bit of a cheap sporty hatchback go for it, but i think most will out grow this car by there mid twenties, leave it the youf... nuff said..

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        11.02.2003 17:59

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        • "Poor build quality - you get what you pay for"

        Citroen Saxo 1.6 VTR - Advantages: Fun to drive, Nippy, Good looks - Disadvantages: Shocking after sales care, Brakes about effective as tissue paper, Poor build quality - you get what you pay for

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        04.02.2003 17:40
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        • "Cannot 'feel' much when driving"

        Ok, so i don't have a saxo, and i don't want one. However, my sister has one and i have spent a lot of time driving it. It's a 98 VTR, and quite a tidy car. It handles well though the corners and body roll is down to a minimum. Running costs aren't too bad, up around 35 miles per gallon, but for a modern car you'd expect perhaps a little more. However, it's a bit limp when it comes to power. Firstly, it's only 87bhp which for a 1.6 is frankly lame. Secondly, it weighs quite literally a ton, and the car feels like it when accelerating. It's also starting to rust a bit, especially in under the arches. For a car that's only just 5 years old that's not good. Also, it's price has dropped dramatically; great if you want to buy a second hand one cheap but not good if you want to sell it! Watch out for outstanding finance as many people were suckered in by the free insurance then had to sell when they realised they couldn't afford it after that year or two, and still had monthly payments on it. Reliability wise it's not been too bad, the biggest problem was with the central locking not working on the passenger door (which didn't fit very well, either bad workmanship at factory or perhaps a dodgy repair), and the power steering suddenly cutting out once or twice. The engine hasn't had any major faults -yet- but it has a tendency to get hot every now and again and likes to drink oil. Inside, the car has a nice interior and is pretty well laid out; the seats are pretty comfy. However, there's very little room for the driver (ok if you're short like my sister, but anyone 6 foot or taller is going to have trouble!) and in the back... well, if your passengers have legs they won't fit in! Personally I don't like the way the car drives, but that's just my preference (never did like power steering). It does handle well round corners, but you feel no r
        esponse from the road through the steering weel, and even less through the pedals. When i first drove it i had trouble with the gears because there was no feeling in the clutch. However on the plus side it is very quiet at speed and (once it's taken a while to accelerate) can cruise along quite happily at speeds that wouldn't impress the local plod. Security is quite good, the car came fitted with a keypad immobiliser from the factory. My sister also fitted remote central locking as well, which was relatively easy to get in. I wouldn't say they're a target for theives because being a modern car they are more likely to have an alarm or be harder the get into (more likely to pinch Novas like mine!!). As mentioned earlier, you can pick up cheap second hand ones, but watch out for thrashed boy racer ones or badly repaired examples. Insurance however can be a problem. Although it's only group 7 it has got the stigma of being a fast (hmm, dunno where that idea come from) boy racer car, if you're a bloke then you will have trouble trying to insure it. However, girls (i.e. my sister) will have better luck. For them i think it's a good car, if -without wanting to sound sexist- they're looking for something that's a bit sporty and simple to drive without much effort. But you'll get bored with it after a while as the drive is boring, and the value will more than likely drop vastly. I'd much rather be in my Nova.

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          06.12.2002 22:44
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          I have owned by VTR since April 2001. At first I was attracted to a new model with 1 years free insurance, but after discovering that I didn't qualify for it as I had more than 2 claims in the last 3 years, decided that it would be more worthwhile to purchase a nearly new model. I opted for an X registered model from November 2000, for only £7995, with 1600 miles on the clock. It looked sexy (I like my cars!) and was Black. I'd always wanted a black car! The level of service received from the dealership was poor to say the least. I personally paid by Switch. What I wasn't aware of was that Citroen had taken three amounts of £7995 from my account leaving me severely overdrawn at the bank!! Once they had received payment for the car they were not interested in helping me resolve the issue with my bank and actually wanted to charge me for writing to the bank to explain their error! They did redeem themselves a tad by arranging for the transfer of my personalised plate to the new car. The car itself was the upgraded model, with an immobiliser and alarm fitted by Citreon (In November 2000, this did not come as standard). The performance of the car is superb (0-60 in 7.1 seconds - when new!!), the car looks quite sexy when cleaned and waxed. Basically it looks like a normal Saxo with a rear spolier attached to the roof and a bodykit around the underside of the car. There are very powerful fog lamps inserted into the bodykit that provide a considerable amount of light when driving down those dark country lanes at night. The handling leaves a lot to be desired. As the car is quite light it does tend to lose grip on wet roads and stopping suddenly is something I wouldn't like to try and do. Now, you've bought your new car, how much is it going to cost to keep on the road? Well, the fuel economy when driving around town is very good and I was surprised to find that it is in the region of 33 mi
          les per gallon. When driving at 70 m.p.h. on a clear stretch of motorway this increases to 37/38 miles per gallon. The driving compartment is comfortable, but basic. Electric front windows come as standard but the sunroof is manual. The sports seats that come as standard with the VTR don't particularly do the job they are there for. When cornering at any sort of speed you find yourself sliding sideways either into the door or towards the front passenger seat. The car has excellent boot space as the spare tyre is attached to the underside of the vehicle. This is released via a screw in the boot. To provide additional room for large boxes etc the rear seats can be "dropped". By lowering the suspension, it feels as though you are flying at speed when you are only doing the 40 -50 mph. I haven't done this to my car, but I have been in a VTR that has and it is frightening!! The stereo system is poor, but I expected this, as it's a known problem with the type of car, but it was cheap enough to replace the fitted stereo with a pull out version. Now I'm no boy racer, but when sitting in traffic there is nothing worse than a poor quality radio reception (oh, and I do like to sing along to a few tunes every now and again!!) Due to the size of the engine (1.6 injection), the car is classed in the highest group for Road Tax. I found personally that the insurance for the first year was also astronomical, but this has since been greatly reduced partly due to the good folk at Lloyds TSB. I have had a relatively good experience with my VTR. In the 18 months + that I have owned the car, I have only had to replace two parts, a fuel filter and an alloy wheel. the fuel filter was a cheap part (£12.99), but to ensure that the warranty was not invalidated, I had to use an approved Citroen garage. The labour costs were four times higher than the cost of the part they were replacing! The alloy wheel
          cost £145 to replace, the actual wheel cost £87.50, with the rest of the cost to fit and balance the wheel. This is quite unbelievable, but only Citroen can balance the wheels for the VTR and the VTS due to the weighted alloys. They charge £16.99 per wheel for this pleasure! Overall, I would rate the car/Citroen as follows: Customer Services 3/10 Performace 8/10 Costs 5/10 Enjoyment 8/10

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            15.08.2001 06:55
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            I bought this car in 1998 with the advantage of 2 years free insurance. I am a high mileage user and the car is very expensive to service compared to other manufacturer dealers. Minor services cost around £135 major closer to £200. The VTR handles superbly unlike some people views that have reviewed it as it like a go-cart and bends are a breeze to go through. The car does lack power but for a small hatch this is to be expected for this price. The top speed flat out for a VTR is 125 MPH on my clock but lacks on acceleration. The car is overpriced in this country and the build is cheap and tacky for this 11K price level the 2 years free insurance made the price down to around £8800 once taking that off. Small things like body shell holders tend to come out if driven through puddles allow the body to come to come off and rub against the tyres. The drink holders should only be used if stationary otherwise you will get wet seats (new VTR has cloth trim unlike mine which are velour trim like on the VTS much more softer and comfortable). The pedals are also a bit to close together but on long journeys I have no problem with this and learn to live with it as it suits sportier drivers. The driving position can make it difficult to get out of, as you can not adjust the steering column. I have taken out the extended warranty for 2 years and this proved worth the £380 cost with 2 years green flag included as minor things like Alarm ultrasonic detectors (needed to be replaced as alarm kept going off) are covered in the warranty. However none of the body is covered only mechanical and electrical. Another problem is the tyres for the car they are a different non standard size and until recently only a few manufacturers made them making the cost of the tyres more expensive. The Michelin Pilot SX were replaced after 48,000 miles on mine (Firestone Firehawk 690 are around £70 including balance and are equivalent to the Michelin which
            is around £120 a tyre) and due to the alloy wheels being Citroen/Peugeot specific a special fitting is needed to use balancing machine. The suspension is quite hard, as this is a sporty model and you do tend to feel every bump, this car is meant for the boy/girl racer and is not your average run-around.

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              05.05.2001 04:36

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              • "Desperately needs ABS
              • breaks not great to say the least!"

              A nippy little ladies car, but think again if you have a baby and toddler. - Advantages: So easy to drive, feels like a Go-cart on speed., Attractive looking, smart trim., Fun to own and drive. - Disadvantages: Three doors awkward when babies arrive., You may have to sell up for something bigger. , Desperately needs ABS, breaks not great to say the least!

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              19.03.2001 19:55
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              I thought I better set the record straight seeing as my friends review on this car was rudely removed. The Citroen Saxo VTR has a 1600 cc engine which shares its design with the Peugeot 106. It also shares the floorpan and many other little bits scattered here and there. The engine is ok, it won't set the world alight but if properly looked after it should stay running sweet for a few years yet. Handling is as you would expect from a car with the wheels at all four corners, excellent. My mates was lowered from the factory which made for a bumpy but fun ride. I have driven a number of other VTR's (father in motor trade: see my other reviews)and they all handle very similarly. Now to my actual opinion. The VTR is unreliable. Simple as that. Due to its crap French build, bits fall off, bits don't work and bits rust. If I had a 2 year old car that had rust on it I would be very worried indeed. The only people that should buy the VTR are 17 year olds that work in McDonalds and drive around with the windows down and the stereo booming. I say this because we already know you are thick and haven't got a clue, so buying this car will only strengthen my opinion of you. The VTR is made of paper and seeing as the average owner IS 17, finding a 2nd hand one that hasn't been bent will be a chore in years to come. Speaking of buying them 2nd hand, everyone knows new cars lose their value as soon as they're bought but jeez this little car loses money quicker than Nick Leeson. The only other person that buys this car is the 20 year old receptionist that lives at home with mum and dad. She can afford the monthly payments (whatever happened to saving up?) and likes the idea of free insurance. When I was learning to drive the Nova SR was the car to have if your name was Wayne and you wanted to drive 15 year olds around. The VTR has firmly taken the crown as the wannabe boy racers preferred chariot o
              f the Y2K's. Now without wishing to contradict myself too much, the Citroen did redeem themselves by releasing the VTS. Although it still looks like a girly Saxo, the 16 valve engine makes up for it. For those of you that remember the late 80's, the VTS is like the difference between the Pug 205 1.6 and the 1.9. Everyone wants the faster one, but by the time they get to the age to afford the insurance, they have grown out of the silly idea and bought a gron-up car. One that isn't made enitrely of paper and rust. So Wayne and Katie (our 20 year old receptionist) have fun in your Saxo. Remember to keep up the payments so that when someone buys it from you in the near future (when you get bored - and you will very soon!), you can take their money right back to Citroen Finance, add about £2000 from your savings and pay off the car you 'always wanted'. Then you can start from scratch and buy another car on Higher Purchase and continue your lives of living on the never never. My advice is save up and buy a car for cash, 2nd hand, save your money for enjoying a life.

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                29.06.2000 02:17
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                I bought a Citroen Saxo VTR (black) about 7 weeks ago and it has been nothing but fun since. Sure the first 1000 miles of breaking in had me squirming but after that it has been brilliant. It is spec'ed at 0-60 in 10.4 seconds with a top speed of 113mph. I haven't measured the dash time but I have had it off the speedo (120) without going over 5500revs. The car corners like a dream - like it's on tracks - allowing you to power through the sharpest of bends due to the stiffened suspension. And it looks sexy as hell, big phat wheels, nice alloys, a lot nicer looking front end than the last model and a nice little spoiler containing an extra break light at the top of the boot. If you're looking to spend 10ish grand on a new car you cannot buy anything else but this car.

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