Skoda Citigo review
Crowned the Auto Express Best City Car of 2013, the Skoda Citigo is as spacious as the VW up! - and cheaper
The Skoda Citigo has been around for nearly two years now, but it still sets the small car benchmark. With its blend of refinement, quality, practicality and low running costs, the tiny city car has been a consistent road test winner, and it was crowned Auto Express Car of the Year in 2012 and won Best City Car in the 2013 Awards.
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
It's not the most stylish city car money can buy, but the Citigo is well proportioned and solidly finished. With its upright lines and simple detailing, it has clearly been designed to maximise interior space.
The Citigo’s dashboard is clearly laid out and, while the plastics are hard, the quality is first rate. For instance, the VW switchgear feels slick and precise, plus the fit and finish is excellent. And while the interior looks and feels a little spartan, the exposed paintwork on the inside of the doors helps to create a cheerful atmosphere. It’s nowhere near as eye-catching, for example, as rivals like the bold Kia Picanto or the stylish Fiat 500.
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.
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.
There are other signs the Skoda has been built down to a price, too. The most obvious evidence is the pop-out rear windows, used on both three and five-door models. By contrast, the five-door Hyundai i10 gets electric rear windows.
You get a decent amount of standard kit elsewhere in the Citigo, though. Air-con, electric front windows and remote central locking all feature, as do confidence-inspiring additions such as stability control – you’ll pay £315 extra for this on the Fiat Panda.
Also included is a height-adjustable driver’s seat, which in combination with the height-adjustable steering wheel and well placed pedals, provides an impressively comfortable driving position.
On the road, the Skoda’s true quality shines through. Excellent refinement, sharp handling and eager performance give the Citigo 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.
The Citigo certainly feels solidly built, plus its engines and underpinnings are shared with the VW up! and SEAT Mii, so promise to be trouble free. Skoda has an enviable reputation for reliability and top notch customer service, as its continued standing in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys show.
It came second in the manufacturer rankings in our 2013 survey, and although we didn't receive enough responses from Citigo owners for the car to be included in the Top 100 count down, the rest of Skoda's range performed very well – with the Yeti and Superb taking first and second place respectively.
The Citigo’s build quality is just as impressive as in Skoda’s more expensive models, and it feels far more robust than rivals such as the Suzuki Alto.
All versions of the Citigo have four airbags, while SE models and above get electronic stability control. For an extra £300 you can add the City-Safe low-speed collision-avoidance system. The Citigo also achieved a maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, propelling it straight to the top of its class.
Despite its small exterior dimensions, the Citigo is surprisingly spacious. Thanks to its clever packaging and thoughtful design, it easily rivals cars from the class above for room. Unlike the Hyundai i10, the Skoda is a strict four-seater, but at least 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 a large glovebox, a decent cubby in front of the gearlever and deep bins in the front and rear doors, while SE models and above get pockets in the front seats.
Opening the tailgate reveals a 251-litre boot, which can be extended to 959 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.
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 – plus there’s the option of a pre-paid servicing pack that takes care of mechanical maintenance for three years.
Better still, our experts have calculated that the Citigo will hold on to an excellent 46.6 per cent of its value after three years.