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 is one of the most accomplished city cars on the road – 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
The Skoda Citigo may be based on the VW up! but every body panel has been changed and the Czech firm has fitted a shrunk-down version of its family face. The simple lines and the large Skoda grille give the car an upmarket look, but it is a little plain. 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. You’ll have to upgrade to models further up the range like the Citigo Sport or Elegance to get desirable additions like alloy wheels included as standard – otherwise they’re and optional extra. Sport versions don’t get any extra power but benefit from a range of visual upgrades – like lowered suspension, racy body stripes and privacy glass for the rear windows – that help to make them look a little meaner. All versions come with 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. 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. They do need to be revved hard if the Citigo is going to do any overtaking on the motorway, but even in these circumstances, both engines are quieter than the three-cylinder engines from most rival firms. In fact, it’s the Skoda Citigo’s smoothness and refinement that impress the most – 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 becomes 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. 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. 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.