Skoda Citigo

3 Nov, 2011 4:29pm Steve Fowler

Skoda’s version of the Volkswagen up! offers all the style, space and quality of the VW, but for less cash


Next year is set to be the year of the city car, and the Skoda Citigo could top the lot. It has the combination of cheeky looks, low costs and grown up feel that makes downsizing so appealing – we especially like the characterful engine, the comfy ride and the amazing amount of space inside. Whether you prefer the looks and image of the Skoda, VW or SEAT versions is down to you, but the Skoda’s extra value and kit could well give it the edge.
You need more than just a catchy name to make a successful city car, but it helps. While the i’s have it for Hyundai, the Fiat 500 takes you on a trip down memory lane and Kia has gone all cutesy with the Picanto, Skoda has taken a route one approach with the Citigo – a car to get you out and about in the city.

Let’s get the sibling thing out of the way first. Yes, the Citigo is pretty much the same car as the VW up! (don’t forget that exclamation mark) and the SEAT Mii (with two 'i's). But with a front grille drafted in from Skoda’s sexy Mission L Frankfurt concept car and a price that will likely undercut the VW by at least £500 when it appears in the UK next summer, the Skoda is more than just a VW clone.

Video: Watch CarBuyer's video review of the Citigo

This is still the Skoda model that’s most like its VW cousin, though – but for the badges, dash graphics, a different boot door and squarer rear windows, it’s pretty much the same car as the up!.

That’s no bad thing – we’ve already raved about the up! and we’re about to do the same with the Citigo, but with the added bonus of that £500 saving.

For such a diminutive car, it has an incredibly grown-up feel: from the quality of the cabin to the way the car rode the bumps on our test route around Skoda’s home city of Prague.

The three-cylinder engine is reasonably perky in both its guises – choose from 60 or 75bhp versions, the latter reducing the 0-62mph time by 1.2 seconds to 12.7, and reducing average economy by 2.7 to 60.1mpg. The performance figures are respectable, but the economy figures are no better than okay, especially as they equate to CO2 figures of 105g/km and 108g/km.

Skoda has stop-start and energy recovery systems that will drop the CO2 figures below 100 g/km and will find their way into a Greenline version eventually, but they may also be offered as an option or as standard on top-spec Elegance models.

The starting price for the 59bhp car is expected to be around £7,500 (the 74bhp model will cost around £350 more, with another £350 premium for five-door models), but entry-level S models will do without air-con or electric windows. SE trim gets both of those plus more and will be the most popular choice, adding around £700 to the price. Elegance will be another £700 on top of that, making a top-spec 70bhp five-door Citigo around £10,600.

Skoda will be trying to tempt you with some big car, luxury options. As well as an automatic version, you can get a full-length opening glass roof, a city-safe rear-end shunt avoidance system, cruise control, heated seats and parking beepers. Like VW, Skoda is offering a bespoke Navigon navigation-cum-infotainment system that sits on top of the dash, but again the Skoda version is likely to undercut VW’s identical model at around £250.

We drove both 59bhp and 74bhp cars, with the more potent engine proving to be a little more refined, but the extra power doesn’t really translate to the road – torque figures are identical at 95NM from 3000rpm.

The cheeky burble of the three-cylinder engine adds to the car’s appeal around town, while it gets all grown up on the motorway where you can barely hear it.

The car will keep up with traffic okay, too, although with four on board and a hill ahead you may have to drop down a gear and turn up the stereo.

Those four people will have an amazing amount of space given the car’s size. Although the car is short (just over 3.5m), the wheelbase is long (just under 2.5m) so a six foot adult can sit behind a six foot driver… just. The front seats slide out of the way to make it easy to get into the back, too. All that and there’s still decent boot space – at 251 litres it’s better than in rival city cars.

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Looks nice and neat. One thing that buyers may notice is that the new Picanto emits 99 g/Km and gets 67.3 mpg without stop/start, and adding aircon doesn't change that figure, so the VED is free. I've just bought one and they are great. I do like the look of the new VW group superminis, but they may have missed a trick with the emissions and fuel economy, plus the London Congestion zone will not be free...

The Citigo i think looks better than the Up! Although I prefer the Up!s more shiny interior. And seeing the Up!s configurator online, the skoda and seat are likely to have more exciting colours. I'm sure all 3 of the VW groups new superminis will sell like hot cakes! But I struggle to see them appealing to people who own Fiat 500s and Ford Ka's as compared to these they are a bit not boring but plain. Saying that they're a much better pick than the Citroen, Peugeot and Toyota siblings. Good luck Skoda you've made a great little car.

If you have bought a picanto to be congestion charge free then it wont be for much longer. They are reducing the CO2 for the charge next year so cars over 90CO2 (Think its this) will be charged. BUT the picanto is a very nice car indeed. 3 Door looks lovely and 5 door is nice too

i sometimes had to question some auto manufacturers motive about buying other car companies competing in same market. no doubt it increases market share, but if VW come out with their VW up then how will it compete with this Skoda citygo when citygo is already cheaper than VW's up and its basically a VW underneath with VW mechanics. If skoda go so ahead of themselves and they able to better than VW in price, performance and value for money, mechanics then where will that leave VW....upmarket against Audi? but i thought VW was a people's car.

corsamani it's all about badge snob's. Some people out there will still not even consider buying a Skoda because it is a Skoda. Even though it continues to beat VW in the driver rankings all the time. I would much rather have a Fabia than a Polo any day, why? Because I'm not a snob! (Plus the Fabia looks better)

Maybe the Skoda "CITIGO" sould be called the "Felicia" as by today's size standards the original "Felicia" would be classed as a city car now.

Also why don't they just name the Seat "Mii" as "Arosa"? "Mii" just translates into English as "My!" not exactly original or of any relation to Spain.

VW should just drop the drab "Fox" as well, and name the "Up!" as "Lupo", Up! is so boringly generic VW!

I expected it to be much cheaper than VW Up, which is also better looking and does not carry the Skoda emblem.

I'm sure all three are very good, and I agree with no1fordfan... the days of badge snobbery can be left behind now. I was a bit of a badge snob in the past, and have owned various cars, including a few VWs. I have to say that my new Picanto 3 door 1.0 Air is very good quality. I think Kia has made quite a step up in recent years (co-inciding with the arrival of Peter Schreyer from Audi). @ adzmcp: no, I don't travel to London, so the exemption from the congestion charge wasn't my reason for buying. It was the price, styling, quality, fuel economy and sub-100 g/Km emissions (free VED) that drew me, plus the positive reviews in the magazines. That's without stop-start or any other gadgets that can go wrong...

So much for SEAT becoming the next sporty version of Audi on a budget - none of the Up's version including Skoda retain much originality and that's a pity. They've even gone as far to reduce the size of the last 3 door Charade from Japan complete with the slanted headlights and why do the Germans persist in making a budget car without fresh air vents? They did this with the Mk1 Polo in the 1970s, 1980s and Fox Coupe versions.

There's so many Ups and Downs going on here I'm giddy. Listen fellas, whatever you think, these cars will be advertised at first time buys, not your demographics. Youre too buy car magazines. People who will buy on price, and perceived value, and the dealer being close, or whatever, but not snob value, or the lack of it. If it mobilises young people in new cars rather than bombs that must be good.

Well I'd sooner have one than an Up if only for the not so stupid name.

Nice little car, but spoilt by poor engines.

A small three cylinder with no turbo, and no balance shaft was always going to be gutless and unrefined, with mediocre fuel consumption.

VAG seem to have lost the plot with their small petrol and diesel engines, and the competition in the city sector is strong.

Their supemini engines are similarly very poor with the honourable exception of the 1.2 TSI

Looks like a nice car - but I think volvofan should check his facts - all the Polo's from 1975 to 1994 had cold air only fresh air vents at the sides of the dash, the hot or cold air came via the dashtop or feet, plus a trickle from the 2nd vents above the cold air vents.....

Open your eyes all three of these cars look like 5 year old designs there is nothing exciting about any of them

Key specs

* Price: £7,500 (est)
* Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl
* Transmission: Five-speed manual 
* Power/troque: 59bhp and 74bhp/95NM @ 3000rpm
* 0-60mph: 13.9secs and 12.7
* Top speed: 99mph and 106mph
* Economy/CO2: 62.8mpg/105g/km and 60.1mpg/108g/km
* Equipment: Air-con, electric windows, central locking, stereo
* On sale: June 2012