What is the Skoda Citigo?
With apologies to the famous wood preservative, the Skoda Citigo does exactly what it says on the tin: go in cities. Very well, too, just like its less prosaically named but no less street-wise sister models from elsewhere in the VW Group, the VW Up! and Seat Mii.
It can be the work of many hours of painstaking comparison work to decide which of the three cars offers the most for your money and does the better job but at its simplest, Citigo ownership begins at £7,990 for the S 1.0 60PS three-door, then £8,060 for the equivalent Seat Mii and £8,185 for the VW Up!. So the Skoda has an instant price advantage, which continues to the upper reaches of the price list where again, the Citigo is the cheapest of the three rivals. Skoda’s strong residuals should ensure it’s not a false saving, either.
All Citigos are powered by a 1-litre, 3-cylinder engine in two states of tune: 59bhp (60PS models) or 74bhp (75PS models). Regardless of power output, they all generate the same 70 lb ft torque for nippy driving but the 74bhp versions are quieter and more relaxed on long motorway runs. It’s just a shame that the cheapest costs £10,110 (Elegance 1.0 GreenTech 3dr). Most models have the 59bhp engine and return a claimed 62.8mpg on the combined cycle, with the more frugal Green Tech version posting 68.9mpg. The 74bhp models aren’t as well represented but the GreenTech does 67.3mpg and shaves over one second off the 0-62mph time (13.2sec compared with the 59bhp model’s 14.4sec). Both engines are available with automatic Citigos.
S, SE Sport and Elegance trim levels cover most needs, with the SE’s air-conditioning, power windows, central locking and a split/fold rear seat providing the best balance of convenience and value for money.
As befits its name, the Citigo is a nimble little hustler, with well-defined corners and good visibility, light but crisp steering, a quiet, well-damped ride for smoothing out those urban imperfections and an eager turbocharged engine that keeps it running easily with the traffic. On that last point, the engine is not as distinctively thrummy-sounding as some 3-cylinder motors, which all adds to the little car’s appeal. The gearchange is light but accurate. The car will turn on a sixpence and squeeze into the tightest parking spot.
Our test car had done 9,500 probably very hard miles but was still tight and rattle-free. That said, there was an annoying whine at 50mph and beyond. A clutch release bearing? Induction noise? And the brakes, though strong, rubbed noisily as the car came to a stop. While a brand new car may have neither of these things it’s worth looking out for on a test drive and noting as an owner.
On the open road, you have to work the engine hard to keep with the traffic, but it’s fun doing so. The 75bhp version, in particular, will settle to an unfussed 70mph cruise all day long. On twisty country roads the Citigo is an entertaining but composed companion, the suspension that coped so well in town now helping to contain body roll and keeping the little car tidy over bumps and swift changes of direction. Economy-wise, the Citigo is equally impressive – our 75bhp GreenTech test car returned 64mpg on a mixed, 45-mile run of fast dual carriageway and stop-start London crawl.
The Citigo is a neat, unfussy but still attractive place in which to spend some city time. In terms of how its trim materials feel, Skoda is deliberately a notch or two down from VW. Plastics are that little bit harder, padding that little bin thinner. But underneath it all, you know it’s all robustly engineered and the trim well anchored. The little Citigo feels very grown-up.
However there are a few niggles that deprive the plucky Citigo of a five star rating. The seats are comfortable but the steering wheel could do with reach adjustment, while some testers complained of sitting too high in relation to the steering wheel. There’s further evidence of penny-pinching in the provision and operation of the electric window switches. Even in top-spec Elegance trim, there’s no one-touch operation but worse, no passenger switch for the driver, so they must lean across the car to raise the window. Meanwhile, the radio sounds a bit tinny, too.
But perhaps the Citigo’s biggest fault is its boot which is handicapped by having a deep sill and rear seats that fold but don’t tumble, creating a big step-up from the very low boot floor when the seat backs are folded onto the squabs. One feels that better use of this space could have been made, but on the other hand, as one of the most compact city cars available the Citigo can be forgiven for this load-lugging blind-spot.
The one to buy
Skoda Citigo SE 1.0 60PS 5dr
- 999cc 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
- 59bhp @ 5000rpm
- 70 lb ft @ 3000-4300rpm
- 5-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 14.4sec
- Top speed:
- 62.8mpg combined
- Road tax band:
- L 3563mm, W 1641mm, H 1463mm