Bought as a stop gap to replace a stolen 205 GTI 1.9 back in 2002. After a fruitless search for a 205 GTI that was half as good as the one I had, without costing as much as a decent 306 GTI-6, and enjoying the ZX more than I ever thought possible, I've given up.
The ZX Volcane shares its engine and underpinnings with the Peugeot 306XSi, which the motoring press raved about for its chassis. And sure enough, it handles with enough feel, precision and adjustability to wipe the smile off the face of any of today's hot hatch drivers. Performance is torquey and effortless, if not earth moving (0-60 in about 8.5 seconds), and running costs, at about 32 mpg and near-zero depreciation, are trivial. I do a full service once a year myself (about every 10k using genuine Citroen parts) and it costs me about £60. Access for DIY work is no problem.
Handling as I said, is delightful. The throttle adjustable tail is incredibly satisfying after driving any of today's "safety minded" gently understeering cars, and the lack of weight and inertia really shows when on the limit. The steering feeds all the information you could want direct to your fingertips and has no slack or freeplay even with the car having clicked over 100k. I also don't think even the likes of BMW or Mercedes have mastered the sharp handling / supple ride compromise quite as well as the guys at Peugeot/Citroen.
Although a Civic Type-R I borrowed from a friend recently would waste this car in a straight line, The Citroen has a far superior chassis with far sharper steering, more front end bite and better throttle adjustability.
Because it wears a Citroen badge and has iffy trim quality, you can find one for £500 in a free ad near you. Take the little "Volcane" and "2.0i" badges off and it looks like a 1.4 base model so even the local twockers and bored police officers will leave it well alone.