Hot HatcheryAvailable in Australia from 2001 the Xsara Coupe VTR was the closest thing to a hot hatch that Citroen offered Australians in the early 00's. This was vastly different to the situation in Europe though, where Citroen offered a proper old school hot hatch based on the smaller Saxo model. The recipe was simple, small hatchback, pokey 1.6 litre engine and a capable chassis. This combined with an offer of free insurance made sure the Saxo VTR was a massive sales success and the larger Xsara didn't really get a look in, which is a bit of a shame as the Xsara despite being a bit bigger than a Saxo follows exactly the same recipe.
Simple but effectiveThankfully though with Saxo out of the equation down under the Xsara is readily available and for even less money than a similarly aged Honda Civic. So the details, well firstly the Xsara is pretty, especially in 3 door coupe body style. It takes styling ques from classic wedge shape Citroen's and curves them up a little. Secondly the Xsara VTR's chassis was fettled by the very same French bods who perfected the smaller Saxo, meaning that should the road get twisty the Frenchie will handle it with aplomb. And lastly there's the engine, a simple 1.6 litre 16 valve naturally aspirated double overhead camshaft unit. It won't set the world alight making do with 83kw and a 0-100km/h time of 10.9 seconds, but it is mated to a short shifting 5 speed gearbox and that chassis. All things considered the Xsara has all the makings of a wonderfully engaging car. I should also say that a more powerful 2 litre VTS Xsara was also offered in Australia, but I couldn't find any for sale at this moment in time.
Try one on for sizeShort and sweet this week, but there you have it, the Xsara VTR. Hopefully I've made you consider a hot hatch ( ok, maybe warm hatch is a better description) that never crossed your mind before. It might be worth giving one a go, as for the price you really don't have much to lose.
The car I've chosen is this 2003 example, well cared for with full service history, lots of rego and a set of alloy wheels. The latter you will either love or hate but they show that this car definitely belongs to someone who took a lot of pride in it.
2003 Citroen Xsara VTR, $4000