I believe the phrase 'hot hatch' is particularly relevant to the VTR. Due to its particularly low weight, combined with a rather powerful 1.6 8v engine, this car, can beat quite a few cars off the mark.
Handling on the VTR is also unbelievable, a recent "test" I did, (night before I sold the car!) was to see how fast I could turn right on a reasonable size roundabout in light rain. As far as I could tell the needle did not drop below 50! And even though it 'twitched' slightly half way though the turn, it handled WAYYY better than expected.
The main issue regarding the Saxos is that their brakes are borderline "atrocious". If you do not have expirience in gearing down in a difficult situation (which new drivers will struggle with... or worse won't even know about) then chances are you will be involved in a collision.
I myself am a vehicle dismantler and often visit numerous salvage auctions and I can honestly say that there are usually A lot of Saxos at salvage auctions. This should give you a good indication of the safety record of this car (and to some extent the ability of its drivers!).
In addition to the rather questionable safety record, the car is of poor build quality. Gearbox is very clunky, body panels are of poor quality. Dash is nothing too clever, but I won't say it looks bad. Rather cheap plastics though!
So in summary, even though this cause has an excellent engine and good road manners... well that's about it. Poor build quality, poor safety record, too many "common" faults let this car down and in the end will result in a hole in your pocket.
Also the cars are dropping in value fast, so do not expect to get anywhere near what you paid for it.
There is also a certain security flaw in the saxo that will give easy access to your car without even damaging a panel or breaking a glass... but I should rather not mention it!
Thanks for reading, I'm off now in my Civic Type R, (4-5 saxos rolled into 1!)