Sleepers: Citroen Saxo VSX Auto

Everyone loves a sleeper, but while sometimes the name is applied to a car that has seen some subtle and barely visible mods to make it look like poo but go like stink, other times a car just leaves the factory that way.

Here at Retro Motor, we love the oddball anomalies of motoring which is why this Citroen Saxo VSX piqued our interest.

Citroen Saxo VSX auto

The VSX Auto was one of the hidden stars of the Saxo launch line-up in the days before the warm VTR and VTS models had even been thought of, let alone seduced the Max Power generation.

The range-topper was a serendipitous combination of the only TU-engine and automatic transmission mix available from Citroen’s parent company, PSA, and was already spoken of in hushed tones by the Peugeot 205 community, who knew that the 205 Auto was little more than a two-pedal GTi with skinny tyres.

In other words, a real blaze to drive.

Citroen Saxo VSX auto

Fast forward to 1996, though, and along came the smaller and lighter Saxo, which enjoyed the bulk of its sales in 954cc or 1.1-litre form. But at the top of the tree was the one designed with Middle England in mind – the poshed-up auto with such accoutrements as electric windows, electric mirrors and a tilt-slide sunroof, all of which were prime showroom currency back in the day. The 95bhp 1.6 under the lid was simply down to circumstance.

But in the Saxo’s featherweight 864kg body, the engine was let out to play, while the long gearing of the three-speed self-shifter mean there was plenty of rev-range to play with to get it off the mark. The combination gave it a 0-60 sprint time of 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 117mph, leading to an entire generation of Blue Rinse Racers heading down to the Co-op to pick up their Daily Express in half the time it would take in the equivalent Micra or Metro.

Citroen Saxo VSX auto

Yet because the Saxo VSX was never marketed as a performance car, it never got a reputation for being one. You needed to look close to even notice it, the primary giveaway being 14-inch wheels over the standard 13-inchers, though Citroen was careful to keep the wheel trim design the same so as not to give the game away too much.

If the Saxo VTR and VTS are getting out of your reach these days (and we’re already at the point where you need five grand for a good one), it’s worth seeking one of these out!

Sleeper points: 9/10

What we love: Handling, performance, hugely discreet looks

What we don’t: That auto box – a 1.6i VSX manual never happened, but would have been amazing!

ALSO READ

Why the scrappage scheme made Mike Brewer cry

Volvo 480: remembering the Euro wedge that wasn’t sensible or square

Chrysler: why it was a UK motoring disaster – more than once

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Discover

Latest

Colin Chapman’s Esprit ‘company car’ to be restored by Lotus

A Lotus Turbo Esprit owned by company founder Colin Chapman – and driven by British PM Margaret Thatcher – is being restored to its former glory.

You’re hired! Lord Alan Sugar buys Rolls-Royce he owned in 1982

The Apprentice host is looking for a private plate for his latest purchase

Fiat Stilo: one of Europe’s biggest loss-making cars

A couple of years back, a finance brokerage by the name of Sanford C. Bernstein published a list of Europe’s 10 biggest...

The coolest cars of the 1990s

The 1990s was a decade stuffed with desirable modern classic cars, from the Renault Clio Williams to the Dodge Viper.

Barn again: 1983 Audi Quattro given a new chance at life

Left in storage for more than two decades, this classic Quattro now has a new owner after an online auction