Citroen is no longer the habitual innovator of yore. There are snatches of flair to be found within the present range, but practicality is, generally, the smotherer of invention.
Take the new Saxo, successor to the AX. A worthy little car, with distinct elements of cousin Peugeot 106 from pillars A-C, but with a frumpy rear end and a ‘corporate’ Citroen nose to set it apart. A true sports version (the 120 bhp 1.6i VTS) will appear in the autumn. For now, the range is headed by the 1.4i: frugal (40 mpg), nimble (109 mph top speed, decent low-end torque) and either £8520 (SX) or £9390 (VSX).
The interior is neater than the slightly awkward exterior, but one or two of the AX’s more unusual characteristics such as the door pockets capable of retaining bottles of wine upright have disappeared. Mind you, so have the myriad rattles of earlier AXs (although later ones did not always come with the Loose Trim Philharmonic as standard).
In general, the Saxo feels altogether more solid, and more settled on the road. Dynamically, it is a step forward, but such progress, typically, has its price. It’s not the cost which grates (this is a viable Polo/Clio/Corsa/Fiesta alternative); its the dilution of charisma. SA