Skoda Citigo review
Crowned the Auto Express Best City Car of 2013, the Skoda Citigo is as spacious as the VW up! - and cheaper
With its blend of refinement, quality, practicality and low running costs, the Citigo still sets the small car standard. It’s available as a three and five-door, while all versions have the same eager 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, with 59bhp or 74bhp.
It shares its underpinnings with the VW up! and SEAT Mii and the trio are very similar – which one you think is best is a matter of personal opinion, but to our eyes the Citigo is the best looking, and the fact that its list price undercuts both the SEAT and VW versions means its better value, too.
Equipment on entry-level models is pretty basic, but there are plenty of options and a range of trim levels to help ensure you get a car with all the goodies you could want. The thing that really sets the Skoda apart from rivals, though, is the driving experience.
It’s ideally suited to town and city driving, as you’d expect, thanks to its compact dimensions and light controls. But the Skoda isn’t a one-trick pony – it’s also surprisingly comfortable, composed and refined on the open road, ensuring it’s almost as satisfying to drive on A-roads and motorways as it is in town.
Skoda has also done a fantastic job of getting the most out of its small size, and the Citigo’s interior rivals more expensive supermini models for space and quality. Add low running costs to the equation and it’s easy to see the Citigo’s appeal.
Our choice: Citigo 1.0 (74bhp) Elegance Greentech
Engines, performance and drive
To appreciate the Skoda’s true quality, you’ve got to get behind the wheel and head out on to the road. With its excellent refinement, agile handling and eager performance, the Citigo has the feel of models from a class above.
You wouldn’t expect a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine to be particularly pokey, but the 59bhp and 74bhp versions in the Citigo feel eager. In fact, there’s barely any difference between the two on the road, as they boast the same 95Nm torque output. And while neither version is going to offer track driving thrills (the 59bhp engine will do 0-62mph in 14.4 seconds, the 74bhp in 13.2 seconds) both feel faster than the figures would suggest around town.
Yet it’s the Skoda’s accomplished real-world performance that really impresses. The three-cylinder engine isn’t the quietest, but it’s smooth and keen to rev. You also benefit from precise, well weighted steering, strong grip and great body control.
Better still, light controls and excellent visibility make the Citigo perfect for crowded city streets. It’s the ability to mix this urban agility with long-distance refinement that really impresses, though. The cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise, while the firm ride improves at higher speeds.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The Skoda Citigo costs less to buy than its VW up! and SEAT Mii sister cars, and it also comes with a little more kit. All versions of the Citigo shouldn’t cost too much to run; expect real-world fuel economy of over 50mpg. CO2 emissions are low, too, especially with the start/stop equipped Greentech models.
These dip below the magic 100g/km figure, so they’re exempt from road tax and the London congestion charge. Skoda is also pushing hard to keep insurance costs down – especially important as they’re targeting younger drivers. You won’t have to pay through the nose for maintenance, either, as Skoda’s £479 pre-paid servicing pack covers scheduled trips to the dealer for three years and 30,000 miles.
Our experts have calculated that the Citigo will hold on to 41.9 per cent of its value after three years.
Interior, design and technology
It's not the most glamorous city car, but the sensibly styled Citigo is well proportioned and neatly detailed. With its upright lines and simple detailing, the Skoda has clearly been designed to maximise interior space.
There are five trim levels to choose from: S, SE, GreenTech, Elegance and Sport. Entry-level models are particularly basic and get black plastic mirror housings and door handles. There are also Monte Carlo and Black Editions available with certain engines that offer styling tweaks to help them stand out from the rest of the range.
While the Sport model benefits from racy body stripes and black alloy wheels, the SE makes do with 14-inch steel wheels covered by plastic trims – although a body colour finish for the door mirrors and handles helps shake off the entry-level S model’s bargain basement looks.
The Elegance model adds some much needed kerb appeal with a body-colour finish for the door mirrors and handles, eye-catching 14-inch alloys and front foglights set into the bumper.
Climb aboard and you’ll see the designers have taken the same straightforward approach inside. The simply styled cabin doesn’t have the funky youth appeal of the Toyota Aygo or Citroen C1, but the Citigo’s dashboard is clearly laid out and, while the plastics are hard, thequality is first rate. Slick and precise VW switchgear is used throughout, plus everything feels solidly screwed together. And although the design lacks the zest of its rival’s, the exposed paintwork on the inside of the doors helps to create a cheerful atmosphere.
Both three and five-door versions of the Skoda get pop-out rear window openings, but this is the only real sign of cost-cutting. In fact, in flagship Elegance trim, the Citigo gets the sort of kit you’d expect on more expensive models, including heated seats, Bluetooth, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and air-con. Also included is the smart sat-nav unit, which slots neatly into a dash top port, and while the screen isn’t as that big, the Skoda’s touchscreen set-up is easy to use and has clear graphics.
There’s also a height-adjustable driver’s seat, which combines with the height-adjustablesteering wheel and well placed pedals to provide a comfortable driving position.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Skoda has a surprisingly spacious interior. It’s a strict four-seater, but those in the back get just enough space for their legs and plenty of headroom. Occupants in the back get more legroom than those in the Kia Picanto, while the rear doors open wide.
The interior is also packed with useful storage. There’s loads of useful storage, including a large glovebox, a decent cubby in front of the gearlever and deep bins in the front and rear doors, plus SE models and above get pockets in the front seats.
Opening the tailgate reveals a 251-litre boot, which can be extended to 951 litres by folding the standard 60:40 split rear bench. You don’t get a totally flat load bay, but you can solve this by adding the £60 variable boot floor, which also creates a handy hidden storage compartment.
Reliability and Safety
The Citigo first went on sale in 2012, sharing its mechanical make-up with the VW up! and SEAT Mii. The technology has proven reliable and the Citigo finished our Driver Power 2014 survey as the second-best car to own (that’s on top of being crowned Best City Car at our New Car Awards 2014). Skoda was also the top-rated manufacturer in the same survey.
These results are partly due to the Citigo’s impressive safety record – it’s the only car here to get a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, helped by a strong body shell, plus standard stability control and tyre pressure monitor. It only has four airbags – the Celerio, which has three Euro NCAP stars, features six – but achieved a rating of 89 per cent for adult occupant protection.