1997 Citroen Saxo VTS 1.6 16v from UK and Ireland


Shopping Trolley


Needed two new front tyres as soon as I bought it (although I used these as a bargaining tool so that's not so bad).

Offside electric mirror doesn't work, nearside only goes up and down.

Engine coughs and splutters disconcertingly at tick-over.

If driven for more than half an hour or so the engine management light comes on. Have had this checked out by an excellent mechanic and he can't figure out why.

I do get the impression that it's only a matter of time before something very expensive goes wrong...

General Comments:

I bought this car as a stop-gap to get me to work for a few months until my insurance money came through (my previous pride and joy, a Mazda MX-3, was killed by a mad driver).

I foolishly thought I'd be buying a cheap, nippy, fun little car.

How wrong I was.

My girlfriend says I'm being a snob, but I swear to you the build quality on this vehicle is absolutely appalling.

Ignore the Max Power crowd - despite the on-paper figures this is no sports car. The components just can't keep up with the car's 130BHP.

The gearbox feels horrifically cheap and I get the feeling it could break at any minute. Rapid gear changes after tight bends make a nasty crunching sound as though the clutch hasn't disengaged.

The brakes are extremely vague even when the pads are replaced - not what you want from a car of this performance.

A quick thrash round some country lanes leaves the cabin smelling faintly of cooking; I have the suspicion this is the feeble clutch being deep-fried.

The suspension is virtually non-existent. Every tiny stone and dried blade of grass is translated into a spine grinding jolt. This appears to be Citroen's ham-fisted attempt at making a school-and-shopping car 'handle'. Which it doesn't, especially in the wet; this car enjoys skittering and sliding about with its wheels spinning in mid-air.

The footwell is so tiny I have to drive around sitting at a slight angle; the pedals are so close together I tread on my own feet.

The engine note is vile. Compared to the lovely smooth tone of my previous car this sounds like Brian Blessed yelling at you from the bottom of a well.

Despite claims of 7.4 second 0-60 times, and dubious accounts from young boys who claim to have done 199MPH in one of these, I can assure you that the numbers are purely academic. Over 90MPH this car feels positively terrifying; not only is the wind-noise deafening, the steering gets all floaty and the brakes would never save if you had to stop within less than about ten miles.

All your worst suspicions about this car are true; it really is as bad as you think it is, and even worse than the people on this site say it is.

I've put up with the torment for a month and my insurance money's come through.

With any luck I should be back in something japanese by the weekend, and this particularly mouldy slice of french cheese will be a distant memory...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 17th February, 2005

23rd Feb 2005, 03:14

I can understand your negative comments about build quality and comfort, and even agree with your view that the Saxo is overrated as a whole (by the Max Power lot in particular), but poor handling?? The Citroen Saxo VTS and its similar twin, the Peugeot 106 GTi are rightly regarded as among the finest handling FWD cars you can buy. If yours isn't, then there's something wrong with it.

My view is that, in pure handling terms, a good example of one of these cars will run rings around any front drive Japanese car including the MX-3. The French might be clueless when it comes to screwing cars together, selecting decent quality materials, or making cars that are remotely durable or reliable, but their understanding of front wheel drive chassis dynamics and "feel" are first class, as they have proven on countless occasions.

Seems you just don't like the car plain and simple, which is fine, but it doesn't make for an informative review.

1997 Citroen Saxo VTS 1.6 16v from UK and Ireland


If it didn't keep going wrong, it would be brilliant


Camshaft seals worn, causing a major oil leak.

Car misfiring constantly; apparently being caused by a faulty coil pack, which is soon to be replaced for 300 quid.

Wheel arch liners came loose on the front arches.

On my previous VTR, and now my VTS, the thrust bearing makes a very loud noise.

General Comments:

Before the misfiring started, the car was kicking out 137bhp with a K&N, de-cat pipe and a full stainless exhaust. It was fun to drive, and would make most boy racers look stupid off the lights. Top end I got 137mph with a bit left, so it ain't too slow for a little hot hatch.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 9th January, 2005

12th Jan 2005, 11:33

Same happened to me.

22nd Mar 2005, 11:04

Err coil packs don't cost £300 you are being ripped off, cost £60 for my car fitted.

30th Mar 2005, 07:09

Yea I would also agree with you, the Saxo was my ideal first car and when I eventually bought one from around my area I couldn't have been happier.. until everything went wrong with it. So far I have paid out for a full new exhaust, brake pads and discs etc and have had to get the hand break tightened twice within the year. When it goes into reverse it jumps back out and just recently I have been getting the indicator 'tick tock' noise for no reason! Think its time for a new car...

15th Mar 2006, 18:59

I agree. I have a VTS 1.6 16v and it is a rocket on wheels if I can stop the misfire. I am about to change the coil pack, can anybody give me some info where might be the best place to go i.e best deal.

20th Mar 2006, 20:07

For coilpacks, try German Swedish trench (GSF), or euro car parts (ECP). They are a lot cheaper here than from cit/pug.