Written on: 12/07/2007 by jazzRS360 (15 reviews written)
Sporty but simplistic design, eager engine, smooth ride for a small car, good fuel economy, fun chassis and easy on insurance.
Flimsy trim, overall quality is poor, bad crash record, mediocre equipment levels.
My son's just gone and got a 2003 Saxo VTR. I did always like the idea of French hot-hatches: small, simple but oh so good fun, and I've driven many Renaultsports, Peugeots and Citroens which live up to that, while also living up to expectations of flimsy quality and questionable reliability. The Saxo is based on the 106 and so by all accounts its certainly outdated by modern standards, but thats not to say its a bad car.
Like the other French stablemates, trim quality is nothing short of poor, with the cheapest of plastics. You do feel like you're buying a cheap car with a Saxo, while with a VW Polo you feel like you're buying a more pricey one. The Saxo has a pretty dire crash record too, a note to all you boy-racers out there. They do fold in a high impact, which is a worry. And specification is less than impressive, I mean ABS is listed as optional- even in this VTR sporting spec.
But then once you actually drive it, it makes sense. The VTR is superb to throw about, with informative steering and a chassis that likes to be used. It's a fun little thing, and makes each drive feel like a naughty little adventure. The 1.6 8 valve pushes out 98bhp, which may sound like a little by today's standards, but in a small, light supermini, it's certainly enough. 0-60mph takes just 9.4 seconds, which makes it as brisk off the lights as many base spec executive cars, like the BMW 318i, Mercedes C180 and Audi A4 2.0 of the same year. Top whack is 120 mph, which is again very impressive for a car like this. The VTR also returns 42mpg, and its insurance group 7, making it cheap to run.
Unfortunately such a mix of performance and affordability has made the VTR and similar cars targets for young wreckless teens, which has given the car a bad image on the streets.
In my opinion thats a shame, because in my eye its just an energetic, fun-to-drive, cute-looking supermini. Its certainly far from perfect, and coming from a daily Octavia vRS driver it's brakes feel weak and gearshift is needlessly floppy to me, not forgetting the overall poor build-quality, but it was designed to be an enjoyable, mildly-sporty little car. And that is exactly what the VTR is.