Volkswagen up! vs Skoda Citigo
Has a facelift given the Volkswagen up! the edge over our favourite city car, the closely related Skoda Citigo?
The original Volkswagen up! rewrote the city car rulebook when it hit the road in 2012. The tiny German machine combined compact looks and low running costs with surprising space and impressive refinement, and in the process it redefined what was a possible for a small car.
Yet its reign at the top was shortlived, because only a few months later it was joined by its Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii identical twins, which were every bit as talented as the up! yet cost a fair bit less.
In an effort to reposition the up! at the top of the city car tree, Volkswagen has treated its tiny tot to a mid-life facelift. Tweaked looks, a more upmarket interior and cutting-edge technology are added to the car’s existing strengths to create a machine that promises to prove that it pays to downsize. Volkswagen has also tinkered with the mechanicals of the up!, boosting claimed economy and lowering the CO2 emissions.
Yet before the VW can pop the champagne corks it needs to beat a familiar foe in the shape of the near-identical Citigo. A similar facelift for the Skoda is still a little way off, but the existing model remains our favourite city car, blending low running costs and a bargain price with grown-up driving dynamics and everyday usability. It also has the sort of kit that more expensive choices miss out on and is backed by the brand’s award-winning customer service.
Car group tests
Used car tests
So which of these tiny tearaways is the king of the urban jungle?
Our contenders are so closely matched in pretty much every area that for a great many buyers it will be the brand that makes the difference. Yet while the Volkswagen badge has a more premium image for some people, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Skoda is predicted to hold its value better and the firm is far more highly rated in our Driver Power satisfaction surveys.
VW’s decision to embrace smartphone technology has mixed results. If you have a smartphone, then having access to your music, apps and VW’s ‘Maps+More’ is a boon. However, the cradle is ugly, while cables hang down the dash when your phone is charging.
We were shocked by the slow performance of the up!. Tall gearing has blunted acceleration, and on the motorway the car is frustratingly hard work. By comparison, the identically engined Skoda feels nippy and eager whatever the situation.
First place: Skoda Citigo
Four years on from its first road test victory, the Citigo is still on top form. Its eager performance makes it better to drive, while its lower price, stronger residuals and great-value PCP plans ensure it’s a far more affordable buy. Factor in its VW-matching versatility and grown-up driving dynamics, and the Skoda remains a top choice for motorists who want to cut costs without compromise.
Second place: Volkswagen up!
The changes to the up! have created a classier and more customisable car, while the switch to a smartphone sat-nav system will appeal to younger buyers. It’s as refined and practical as ever. However, the updates to the gearbox have resulted in sluggish performance with no real gains in efficiency, while the higher price and less attractive finance mean the VW costs more.
Other options in this category...
Hyundai i10 1.2 Premium
Price: £11,275Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl, 86bhp
It can’t match the VW and Skoda for character and fun, but the i10 is easy to live with due to its practicality. The larger 1.2-litre is decent performer, although it emits a hefty 114g/km of CO2. The 1.0 is cleaner, but has only 65bhp.
Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SL
Price: £9,645Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 74bhp
The Viva is neither as engaging to drive as the Citigo nor as refined as the up!, but it’s keenly priced and comes with stacks of kit. It’s also available with Vauxhall’s OnStar onboard assistant, which includes a 4G Internet connection.
|Skoda Citigo 1.0 75 SE L GreenTech||Volkswagen High up! 1.0 75 BlueMotion Technology|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£10,815/£10,815||£12,280/£12,925|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£4,380/40.5%||£4,863/39.6%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£344/£689||£391/£782|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,227/£2,045||£1,194/£1,989|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||4/£468/A/£0||4/£468/A/£0|
|Servicing costs||£288 (2yrs 20k miles)||£288 (2yrs/20k miles)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/999cc||3cyl in-line/999cc|
|Peak power||74/6,200 bhp/rpm||74/6,200 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||95/3,000 Nm/rpm||95/3,000 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||5-spd man/fwd||5-spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||35 litres/£50||35 litres/yes|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||251/959 litres||251/959 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||9.8 metres/0.33Cd||9.8 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable (1yr)/135||Variable (1year)/223|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||3rd/15th||24th/28th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||89/80/46/5||89/80/46/5|
|0-60/30-70mph||12.7/13.1 secs||13.5/15.3 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||7.0/10.7 secs||9.4/14.5 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th||17.2 secs||28.4 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||107mph/3,200rpm||106mph/2,900rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||62/43/63/73dB||59/42/63/71dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||49.8/11.0/383 miles||51.2/11.3/394 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||131/98g/km/16%||127/96g/km/16%|
|Auto box/stability/cruise control/AEB*||£305/yes/£450^/£275||£600/yes/£295^/£375|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||No/no/yes||£260/no/yes|
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go||£500/no/no||£515/no/no|