Used Citroën Saxo 1996 - 2003 review

Category: Small car

The Saxo could be good for a first-timer, but be careful when you're buying - and driving

Citroën Saxo (96 - 03)
  • Citroën Saxo (96 - 03)
  • Citroën Saxo (96 - 03)
Used Citroën Saxo 1996 - 2003 review
Star rating

What's the used Citroën Saxo hatchback like?

The Saxo is small, light and basic - an old school supermini. It comes with three or five doors, but neither version offers much space inside. What's more, the wheel and seat height are fixed and the pedals are offset to the left, so making yourself comfortable can be quite tricky.

A driver's airbag comes as standard, but that's it for safety kit, though VTS models have anti-lock brakes. A 2001 model tested by Euro NCAP achieved two stars for occupant safety and two for pedestrian protection - both some distance behind more modern rivals.


The Saxo could be good for a first-timer, but be careful when you're buying - and driving

  • The Saxo is cheap to buy and a blast to drive - especially the sporty VTR or VTS
  • It's cramped, and short of kit and safety gear
  • There are plenty of dodgy ones on sale, too

The cheap-looking dash also suffers in comparison with more modern designs, but the big, pull-out centre air vent is effective.

There's adequate space up front, but it's tight in the back. Worse still, all the seats are squashy and flat, and uncomfortable over long distances, while the boot is small.

For a quick blast, though, the Saxo's great fun to drive, with direct steering and light controls. However, plenty of engine noise and wind whistle reaches the cabin.

Ownership cost

What used Citroën Saxo hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Citroën Saxo hatchback?

Definitely not. They are very cheap to buy and have already lost so much value from new that any future drops will be tiny. And, although Saxos aren't the most reliable cars around, spares are cheap and most jobs are simple enough for any skilled mechanic to perform in his sleep.

Insurance is cheap, too, and most Saxos fit within groups 3 or 4, though the VTR is in group 9 and the VTS group 12. That's expensive by Saxo standards, but good for such warm hatches.

All except the VTR and VTS will return 40mpg, while the diesel is good for 50mpg. Consumption for the sporty versions can dip below 30mpg if they're driven hard. Servicing is every 12,500 miles for petrols and 10,000 for the diesels, and all require a cambelt change after 60,000 miles and/or five years.

Our recommendations

Which used Citroën Saxo hatchback should I buy?

The warm-hatch Saxo, the 1.6 VTR, is what everyone wants. Its chunky alloys and body kit look the part, while the buzzy 99bhp engine pulls it along quickly. Once the best-seller in its class, it's still in big demand at all ages and prices.

There's also the more powerful 120bhp VTS, which looks almost the same and has extra kit, but it's rarer.

Otherwise, the 1.5 diesel chugs along well and easily tops 50mpg so it's worth considering. There are also 1.1 and 1.4 engines - the bigger one is much better.

Trim runs from the most basic X, through LX and SX to VSX, but air-conditioning is unavailable, even as an option. Mid-trim LX or SX are best, the latter having remote locking and electric windows. There were also plenty of special editions with daft names such as Desire and Scandal, but don't pay over the odds for them.

With any car, try to buy a face-lifted, post-2000 model, as they are more reliable. And, look to buy privately or from independent dealers for the best value.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Citroën Saxo hatchback?