New Skoda Citigo 2017 facelift review

Updates keep the Skoda Citigo city car fresh, while Monte Carlo trim adds sporty appeal

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5.0 out of 5

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The revised Skoda Citigo is still one of the best cars in its class, thanks to its combination of value, great build quality and solid dynamics. It’s a shame the new car doesn’t get the VW Group’s new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol engine from the facelifted up!, but this shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Citigo is still a peach of a city car. Unless you really fancy the sporty trinkets (and firmer ride) of our Monte Carlo test model, the mid-spec SE offers the best value.

The Skoda Citigo has always been a smart city car choice – and for one reason in particular; it’s the cheapest variation of the VW Group’s junior trio. That means it undercuts the posher Volkswagen up! and more stylish SEAT Mii on price, while offering the same solid all-round credentials.

After half a decade on the job, the Citigo has now been refreshed with a new look and redesigned interior, plus a dash of new tech. The changes are minor, but bring the Skoda in line with its Volkswagen sister car. The up! was given a host of updates last summer, so it’s only right that the Citigo gets a handful of fresh additions, too.

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It’s just a shame that no new engines form part of the package. While the up! gets the option of a box-fresh 1.0-litre TSI turbo with 89bhp, the Citigo sticks with the older non-turbo MPI, available with either 59bhp or 74bhp. It’s the former we drove, teamed with sporty-looking Monte Carlo trim.

All cars get a new grille and bumpers, fresh headlights and a reprofiled bonnet. The racy Monte Carlo is easy to make out compared with the rest of the range, thanks to a number of eye-catching styling additions. Chequered flag decals are found on the door bottoms and bootlid, while the car also gets gloss-black 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and a new front bumper fitted with a small chin spoiler. There’s a matching wing perched on the hatch lid, too.

The various add-ons may not be to all tastes, but they do help the Citigo stand out from the crowd. You’ll also find special badging on the B-pillar and doorplates, while the suspension has been lowered by 15mm to give the car a sportier stance.

Underneath the Monte Carlo trim lurks a humble Citigo SE, meaning you’ll get all the same mid-range equipment. This car does benefit from the addition of the new Swing audio system with a colour display, which gets crisp graphics and is easy to use, too. It’s combined with a fixed mobile-phone holder placed atop the dash, plus built-in Apple iOS and Android link-up apps. These are nice perks, but are only included on SE trim and above.

The functional interior has a typical VW Group robustness to the perceived build quality and materials on show. Comfortable seats, plus a height-adjustable steering wheel, mean that most people will be able to find a suitable driving position in the small but surprisingly spacious cabin.

In fact, there’s even enough room for adults in the back of a Citigo, with plenty of headroom and sufficient leg and kneeroom, too. The 251-litre boot is competitive in this class, even five years after the car launched. The rear seats split and fold 60:40, and only the Ford Ka+ and recently revised Dacia Sandero offer markedly more space for the money. Updated Citigos get new dials, a multifunction steering wheel and two-tone trim options. On the Monte Carlo, the centre console wears soft-touch red plastic, while the seats get colour-coded fabric inserts. There’s also a leather-covered gearstick and handbrake, plus a flat-bottomed wheel.

On the road, the Citigo retains its solid driving characteristics, with a composed ride and slick steering. The small Skoda feels super agile, and due to its short wheelbase it’s really responsive. Body control is good, and the suspension offers just enough cushioning to make it comfortable on all but the worst surfaces. Lowered springs make our Monte Carlo a little fidgety, however; the standard models give the best compromise.

The slightly underpowered 59bhp model will struggle out of town, but on congested city streets it offers enough thrust to keep up with traffic. The non-turbo 1.0 MPI is a particularly refined unit, too, thrumming away smoothly under acceleration and still delivering an impressive 64.2mpg. In our experience, little separates the base car from the more powerful unit, but regular motorway users may want to consider the 74bhp car. For some, the lure of the up!’s new turbo engine may be too much, however.

One more key ingredient the Citigo retains is its excellent value, as it starts from only £8,635 – with a £300 premium for this five-door. This means it undercuts rivals such as the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto, and Skoda is offering a £1,000 dealer deposit contribution, too, which means even the smart-looking Monte Carlo is within easy reach. The icing on the cake is the Citigo’s affordable servicing package, with fixed-price plans allowing you to spread the cost over the first three years of ownership.

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