Used Skoda Citigo (Mk1, 2012-2019) review - What’s it like to drive?

The Skoda Citigo is perfect for driving around town, and it's not bad on faster roads, either

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. The 2017 update saw no changes to the way it drives, which illustrates how good it is. 

Engines

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 useable on faster roads and feels more at home out of town.

Squeeze the throttle and the Citigo responds keenly, with the sort of nippy acceleration that allows you to exploit gaps in the traffic. Even on faster roads, the Citigo doesn't feel too out of its depth. The gearing doesn’t harm refinement, either, because the three-cylinder engine is as unobtrusive at 4,000rpm as it is at 2,000rpm. Wind and road noise are low, too.

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.

Granted, the three-cylinder unit isn’t as quiet as a four-cylinder one, but it's one of the smoothest in its class and is keen to rev, with a tuneful accompanying soundtrack. It’s also great fun to drive a small car with an engine that thrives on being driven hard.

On the road

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 more supple the faster you go, and the car is far more capable than you’d think out of town. Lowered springs make the Monte Carlo a little fidgety, however; the standard models give the best compromise.

Better still, the Skoda is equally assured on B-roads. The steering is direct and well weighted, while the wide track and relatively long wheelbase deliver good stability. There’s also plenty of grip, and the excellent visibility allows you to place the car on the road with confidence. Factor in the engine note, snappy gearshift and peppy performance, and the Citigo serves up genuine driver fun.

The five-speed manual gearbox is easy to use with a slick shift that inspires confidence. If you're looking at a used Citigo with the automatic gearbox, be prepared to be disappointed. 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.

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