Skoda Citigo review
The Skoda Citigo offers the same quality and space as its cousin the VW up! - but it's cheaper
The Skoda Citigo city car was crowned the Auto Express Car of the Year for 2012, and shares its underpinnings with the VW up! and SEAT Mii. You can decide which looks the best, but to our eyes, the Skoda is the more upmarket-looking model. The Citigo is ideally suited to its city car role, thanks to its compact dimensions and light controls. Yet it’s also very composed and refined on the open road, while its interior rivals more expensive supermini models for space and quality. Factor in low running costs and it’s easy to see the Citigo’s appeal.
Our choice: Citigo 1.0 (59bhp) SE
In the transition from VW up! to Skoda Citigo, every body panel has been changed, although you’d be hard pushed to notice. Still, the large Skoda grille helps give the car an upmarket look, although it’s not as eye-catching as the stylish Kia Picanto. Entry-level models get black plastic mirror housings and door handles, while you’ll have to upgrade to models further up the range like the Citigo Sport and Citigo Elegance to get desirable additions such as alloy wheels included as standard – otherwise they’re optional extras. The Sport version doesn’t have any extra power, but looks meaner with lowered suspension, racy body stripes and privacy glass for the rear windows. All versions benefit from a well-laid out and robustly built interior. Air-conditioning is standard on SE models and above, as is remote central locking. Sport and Elegance models add a leather-trimmed steering wheel and a neat portable sat-nav unit.
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. But it’s the Skoda Citigo’s smoothness and refinement that really impress – on the motorway the car is as quiet and relaxed as much more expensive and larger supermini models. Direct steering and decent grip mean the Skoda is reasonably engaging to drive - although the price you pay for this nimble handling is a slightly firm ride, which is firmer still on the Sport model. That said, the ride never borders on uncomfortable. Light controls, excellent visibility and a slick gearshift make the Citigo a breeze to drive on congested city streets.
Skoda has an enviable reputation for reliability and top notch customer service, as its continued standing in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys show. 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. Skoda hasn't skimped on safety kit either, with head and thorax airbags on both sides, plus the expected driver and passenger airbags. The Citigo also achieved a maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, propelling it straight to the top of its class.
In a car so short (just over 3.5m), the wheelbase is long (just under 2.5m) so interior space is impressive. Two adults will fit in the rear, while the option of a five-door version further boosts the car’s versatility. The Skoda’s 251-litre boot is bigger than you’ll find in a Hyundai i10 or Kia Picanto, while all modes get a folding rear bench. The interior of the Citigo is also packed full of useful storage space, including a large glovebox, decent-sized door bins and a deep centre console cubby.
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.