Skoda Citigo review
Crowned the Auto Express Best City Car for five years running, the Skoda Citigo is as spacious as the VW up! - and cheaper
Each one is cheap to buy with low running costs and each is surprisingly spacious for such a small car. However, the Skoda has the lowest starting price of all three and seeing as there’s no difference in economy and emissions (and little difference in quality) between them, it represents the best value. As a result we named the Citigo Best City Car at our 2016 New Car Awards ceremony, the fifth year in a row that it has won the award.
The Citigo is available with a single 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with either 59bhp or 74bhp. While it's far from fast, it is willing and brilliant for ducking in and out of city streets. It’s also surprisingly quiet and comfortable on faster roads, so it’s a superb all-rounder as city cars go.
With its blend of refinement, quality, practicality and low running costs, the Skoda Citigo still sets the standard for city cars. It’s the smallest car in Skoda’s range, sitting below the Fabia supermini, and is available as a three- and five-door hatchback. All versions have the same eager 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with either 59bhp or 74bhp.
It shares its basic architecture with the VW up! and SEAT Mii, and the trio are indeed very similar – which one you think is best to look at is a matter of personal opinion. To our eyes, though, the Citigo isn't much less desirable and the fact its list price undercuts both the SEAT and VW versions means it’s better value.
Equipment on entry-level S models is pretty basic, but there are three more trim levels – SE, SE L and Monte Carlo – all of which add much more equipment.
As of 2015, buyers can also opt for a new 'Black Edition' (based on the SE) which adds satnav, extra speakers, black alloy wheels and tinted windows for a hardly substantial £855.
The thing that really sets the Skoda apart from rivals, though, is the driving experience.
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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 comfortable, composed and refined on the open road and almost as satisfying to drive on A-roads and motorways as it is in town.
A five-speed manual gearbox is the norm for the majority of models but a five-speed automatic, known as ASG, is also available. This isn’t a conventional automatic, though; It's an automated manual transmission which is extremely jerky and slow. We recommend sticking with the manual unless you absolutely refuse to change gear yourself.
The Citigo’s small proportions and equally tiny engines mean running costs are exceptionally low. Many models in the range are (currently) tax-free, and the most economical GreenTech version uses eco-themed equipment to get emissions down as low as 95g/km and an official 68.9mpg.
Skoda has also done a fantastic job of getting the most out of its small size and the Citigo’s interior is a match for more expensive supermini models. Factor in the low running costs and it’s easy to see the Citigo’s appeal.
Rivals include the aforementioned VW up! and Seat Mii, along with city cars outside the Volkswagen group such as the Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10, Kia Picanto, Renault Twingo, Ford Ka, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108.
Engines, performance and drive
You’ve got to get behind the wheel to appreciate the Skoda’s true quality. With its excellent refinement, agile handling and eager performance the Citigo has the feel of larger models from a class above – and it certainly doesn’t come across as a cheap or boxy city car.
Better still, the light controls and excellent visibility make it perfect for crowded city streets and you also benefit from precise, well weighted steering, strong grip and great body control.
It’s the ability to mix this urban agility with long-distance refinement that really impresses. The cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise, while the ride gets better the faster you go and it’s far more capable than you’d think out of town.
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The five-speed manual gearbox is easy to use and it’s standard fare on most models. It’s best to avoid the automatic unless you really need one, though. It’s an automated manual rather than a traditional automatic transmission and it requires a lot of getting used to in order to drive smoothly – otherwise it’s very jerky.
You wouldn’t expect a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine to be particularly powerful, but the 59bhp and 74bhp versions in the Citigo are quite eager. Both models have the same 95Nm torque output so there’s no difference in terms of mid-range pulling power, but the 74bhp model is a little more flexible, especially on faster roads.
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 – but 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 unit isn’t as quiet as a four-pot, but it's one of the smoothest in its class and is keen to rev. It’s also great fun to drive a small car with a small engine that thrives on being driven hard.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The Skoda Citigo costs less to buy than its Volkswagen up! and SEAT Mii sister cars and none of the three is expensive to run, so you can expect real-world fuel economy in excess of 50mpg. CO2 emissions are low, too, especially with the GreenTech models, which have features such as low-rolling resistance tyres and a stop-start system to help save fuel.
The entry-level 1.0-litre 59bhp engine returns an official 62.8mpg and emits 105g/km. Models bearing the GreenTech badge see fuel economy increase to 68.9mpg and shed 10g/km of CO2, so emissions stand at 95g/km.
The more powerful 74bhp engine gets the GreenTech gear as standard as long it’s specified with a manual gearbox, which results in 67.3mpg and 98g/km of CO2. You’ll probably never a notice a difference between the lower and the higher-powered versions at the pumps.
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When fitted with the ASG automatic gearbox, the 59bhp model emits 103g/km and returns 64.2mpg, while the 74bhp model offers 105g/km and 62.8mpg.
A low list price and tiny engines make the Citigo a favourable prospect with insurance companies. It starts in group one, as low as it’s possible to get. Some models with more equipment move up to group two while the 74bhp SE L GreenTech model is in group four – but whatever way you look at it that’s still extremely low and the Skoda is a cheap car to insure in any form.
It’s a pretty similar arrangement for the Citigo’s sister cars, the Volkswagen up! and the SEAT Mii, both of which start in group one. The Toyota Aygo, for example, starts in group three though and while that’s still unlikely to cost a packet, it’s two groups higher than the Skoda from the off.
The Citigo’s low price means there’s little in the way of cash to lose in the first place. Even so, it does well in terms of depreciation: our experts have calculated that the Skoda will hold on to 41.9 per cent of its original value after three years.
Interior, design and technology
It's not the most glamorous city car, but the Citigo is neat and well proportioned. With its upright lines and simple detailing, the Skoda has clearly been designed to maximise interior space.
There are four trim levels to choose from: S, SE, Monte Carlo and S EL. Entry-level models are particularly basic and get black plastic mirror housings and door handles.
S and SE models make do with 14-inch wheel trims – although the SE’s body coloured details helps shake off the entry-level version’s bargain basement looks.The Black Edition might well be the sweet-spot in the range: it offers smarter styling details such as gloss black wheels and tinted windows, and all the kit you'd ever need, for not much extra outlay.
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The Monte Carlo edition is the sharpest looking version. It gets the standard equipment from the SE model and adds a series of styling tweaks to help it stand out from the rest of the range, such as red/black upholstery and sport steering wheel with red stitching. It also has lowered suspension and eye-catching 15-inch alloy wheels.
The S EL model adds some much needed kerb appeal over the SE with standard 14-inch alloys and front fog lights set into the bumper.
Climb aboard and you’ll find the same straightforward approach inside. The simple cabin doesn’t have the funky youth appeal of rival city cars such as the Toyota Aygo or the Citroen C1, but the Citigo’s dashboard is clearly laid out and while the plastics are hard, the quality is first rate.
Slick and precise Volkswagen Group switchgear is used throughout and everything feels solidly screwed together. Although the Skoda’s interior lacks the zest of its rivals, looking particularly dour in base-spec cars, it's better built than most.
Five-door versions of the Skoda have pop-out rear window openings rather than conventional windows that roll down, but this is the only real sign of cost cutting.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
In flagship S EL trim, the Citigo has the sort of kit you’d expect on more expensive models including heated seats, Bluetooth, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and air conditioning.
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Also included is a neat satnav unit that connects and charges on a dash-top mount. It's a smart, cost-friendly solution to expensive and complex built-in systems. While the screen isn’t that big, the Skoda’s touchscreen set-up is easy to use and has clear graphics, plus even base-models come prepared to be specced with it. The mapping isn't as polished as some, however.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Skoda has interior space that almost embarasses some superminis. The cabin is packed with useful storage areas including a large glovebox, a decent cubby hole in front of the gearlever and deep bins in the front and rear doors. Mid-level SE models and upwards get pockets in the front seats, too.
You sit upright in the Skoda, which makes for a comfortable (if un-sporty) driving position and good visibility. It also makes it feel like a larger car than the small proportions suggest.
The five-door Citigo is 3,563mm long, 1,645mm wide and 1,478mm tall (the three-door model is 4mm slimmer but that’s all). That makes it very similar in size and shape to the Hyundai i10, though longer and wider than the Toyota Aygo.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Both the three-door and five-door versions are strict four-seaters, but those in the back get just enough space for their legs and plenty of headroom.
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Occupants in the back get more legroom than those in the rival Kia Picanto and the rear doors open wide so it isn’t difficult to get in and out. Given the size of the Skoda it does surprisingly well in this area and will accommodate four adults easily enough.
Opening the tailgate reveals a 251-litre boot, which can be extended to 959 litres (the three-door Citigo has 951) by folding the standard 60:40 split rear bench. That’s not bad at all when you consider the size of the Citigo and it’s streets ahead of the Toyota Aygo’s 168-litre boot, though the Hyundai i10 just pips it at 252 litres.
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You don’t get a totally flat load bay, but you can solve this by adding the £65 variable boot floor, which also creates a handy hidden storage compartment. This involves lifting up the initial boot floor to reveal an extra area beneath it, which is handy for tucking away smaller items such as shopping bags. For an extra £55 you can also have a luggage compartment cover and a boot net that helps to keep loose items pinned down.
Reliability and Safety
The Citigo first went on sale in 2012 and shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen up! and the SEAT Mii. All three models have so far proved reliable and the Citigo finished in 11th place out of 200 cars in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey – it was also crowned Best City Car at our New Car Awards in 2016, winning the award for the fifth year in a row. Skoda is a consistently strong performer in the manufacturer section of the survey and this year finished in third place overall. Its dealers are also known for their good customer service.
Strong results in the survey are partly due to the Citigo’s impressive safety record. It received a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was crash-tested, which was helped by a strong body shell, standard-fit stability control, daytime running lights and tyre pressure monitors. It only has four airbags but achieved a rating of 89 per cent for adult occupant protection.
Skoda offers a standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty with the Citigo. While that’s similar to a lot of other manufacturers, it isn’t exceptional and can easily be beaten by rivals such as the Hyundai i10 and Toyota Aygo, both of which are sold with five-year/unlimited-mileage warranties, while the Kia Picanto has a seven-year/100,000-mile package.
You can pay extra for an extended period of cover, though. A four-year/80,000-mile warranty costs an extra £150, while up to five years and 100,000 miles will set you back £260.
Skoda has fixed servicing costs for all of its models at main dealers. A minor service costs £139, while a major one costs £259 and the firm recommends that Citigos visit the dealership every year or 10,000 miles.
There is a service plan available with the Citigo too. That costs £479 and covers the cost of routine maintenance for three years or 30,000 miles.