Used Citroen Saxo
A history lesson...
As a direct rival to Peugeot's 106, the Citroen Saxo is a sound used buy. Its predecessor, the Citroen AX, was a much beloved, super cute supermini. The Saxo is the AX, but all grown up. Launched in May 1996, a number of models are available. Initial offerings included the three-door 1.1i, badged LX and SX and 1.4i SX and VSX. Later that year came the five-doors, a 90bhp 1.6 litre automatic, a 1.5 diesel and a new 'X' designation for the former LX.
The following year brought two new hot hatches, a 90bhp Saxo VTR and a 120bhp VTS. January 1998 saw the Citroen Saxo upgraded, featuring a new grille, clear indicators, new rear lights and a far more sensible key transponder immobiliser replacing the previous cumbersome keypad system. The VSX badge was dropped in favour of 'exclusive' editions. October 1999 gave the used Citroen Saxo another facelift, with a redesigned front end and trim alterations. Further models were introduced in time, including a 1.0 litre (soon replaced by a 1.1) entry level badged First, a Forte and a Desire and an uprated 98bhp engine for the VTR. Production ceased in 2003 to be replaced with the C2.
Bang for your buck
More conservatively designed than your average Citroen, the AX's replacement had a lot to live up to. What it may lack stylistically, the used Citroen Saxo makes up for in improved equipment levels, although the steering wheel is of fixed height and the electric window controls are rather silly. While rear seat space is somewhat stingy, this is due to a conscious (and rather sensible) decision on Citroen's part to favour a substantial boot space.
Safety features are better than average for a car of its class, featuring generous crush safety zones and side impact protection unavailable in other superminis at that time. Pre-tensioned seatbelts and a driver's airbag come as standard.
What you'll pay
The first 1996 1.1i three-door Saxo LXs can be had for £800, or a P-reg X for £1,100. Add about £150 for a five door and around £200 for the higher spec SX. Early three-door used 1.4i Saxo Sxs are a little more than the 1.1i as expected, at £1,100 for the same year. A P-reg 1.6i automatic, also three-door, goes up to £1,400. Again you'll pay a small premium for five-doors or plusher trim levels.
The hot hatches start at £1,600. 2000's face lifted models are a pretty reasonable £1,800 for the entry level First, while a range topping VTS on a 54 plate could still set you back about £5,700.
What to check
Most second-hand Citroen Saxo cars for sale have been well-used, so check for general wear and tear, plus boy racer style thrashed engines in the hot hatches.
You're looking at £70 for a set of front brake pads, £190 for a full exhaust, £240 for a clutch assembly kit, £230 for an alternator and around £70 for a headlamp lens.
How it drives
It's fun and punchy like its competitor the Peugeot 106, with a better ride and handling than the AX. For a small car, the Citroen Saxo is smooth and comfortable on longer journeys.