15 Oct 2012

Living with - Citroen Saxo VTR 1.6 8v

The car - 2002 Citroen Saxo VTR 1.6 8v
Owner - Matt Graham

Front of the Saxo after mods

I bought this car 6 months ago after someone at my last work place said he was selling it. I'd always wanted a car I could modify and tune and the Saxo is made for it. Being only 22 means I couldn't go for something with a huge engine so I thought a 1.6 would be a good start, so I started looking into insurance prices. Obviously being a young male you'd think it would be expensive, and you'd be right, £1200 for the year.

The Car

Forget what everyone tells you about avoiding high mileage and modified cars. This one has done 97,000 miles and had been modified when I bought it. After doing a bit of research I have found out that the VTR and VTS lumps in the Saxo's can run up to 150,000 miles so I know I have a few more years of fun left in it yet.

When I first bought the car it had lowered springs (front and back), a Scorpion back box, and a Dome air filter. The car now sits very low to the ground with the lowered springs but it still has the stock shock absorbers on it, so it has a very firm but bouncy ride. The exhaust is louder than stock but not too loud, it does make more noise as you put your foot down, however.

As far as personal modifications go, I haven't made many, as money is a little tight at the moment. I haven't made any to the performance but I have some rear shock absorbers to fit to kill the bouncy ride. I have cut out the slats from the front bumper to replace with mesh and the same on the front grille. I plan on respraying all the wheels black and I have put on a few stickers to personalise the car.

Back of the Saxo after mods

Everyday use

I have no problems using it on my daily drive to work and back. I soon learnt where all the pot holes were and to avoid them. Speed bumps can be an issue, mostly because of the firm ride so I have to slow right down to a snails pace. The narrow speed bumps, the ones for buses to pass over, are the worst as I scrape the bottom of the car on most of these - so I tend to avoid those roads. Multi-storey car parks can be just as bad, my local one in town is fine, but I have been in some that I scrape on the tops of the ramps.

When I bought the car it had an amp, two 16x9 speakers in the parcel shelf and a sub woofer in the boot. I immediately pulled these out and sold them on eBay. I then installed my own CD player after removing and selling the old one only to find out the speakers in the parcel shelf were the only ones. I have a set of portable speakers in the car now for longer journeys, but as for going to work and back I prefer to listen to the car end the engine.

Interior of the Saxo after mods

Faults, MOT and Fuel

This was a big worry for me - having done 97,000 miles and there being a lot of rattles and squeaks in the car while driving. Knowing of 3 faults, that would be an MOT failure, I set about fixing these myself. The indicator arm and the windscreen wiper both having loose connections I replaced these. After a trip to a local scrap yard I picked up both of these for £10 and set about fixing them which was a simple job. The next job was the power steering pump, which is a common fault on Saxos, so it took me a while to find one but when did I picked it up for half the price. All the others I saw were £25. Using the Haynes manual (if you don't have one of these I would recommend it) I set about replacing the pump. This was an easy job, it only took me half a day to fix.

After fixing these I sent it away for the MOT. It failed but not as catastrophically as I originally thought. It came back as having a loose CV joint and incorrect colour head lights. A £2.79 pair of jubilee clips and some £1 second-hand bulbs - it passed with just an advisory of a worn close to legal limit, nearside front tyre.

Fuel costs are pretty good for a 10 year old car. Using an app on my phone I've worked it out at giving me 38mpg - my old 1.2 Clio was giving me 42 so I'm happy with that.

Front of the Saxo before mods

Future plans

This can go in one of two directions. I can go for an outrageous track-day focused car or I can race it in the 750 Motor Club's Stock Hatch Championship.

If I go for the track day car, I can pretty much do what I want - turbo kits, super chargers, straight through manifolds. All of these are expensive but can give me 200+BHP on a car I can strip down to 700kg.

If I take it racing, there are only a few modifications I am allowed and I get to live out my childhood dream of racing.

Back of the Saxo before mods
Interior of the Saxo before mods

Many thanks to Matt Graham for this review of his Saxo.  You can find Matt on Twitter here

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