The Citigo Black offers a darker take on Skoda's friendly city slicker. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Skoda's Citigo Black weighs in with some slick pearlescent black paint, fifteen-inch alloy wheels and other fitments that include front fog lights, sunset glass, a Portable Infotainment Device (PID) and an Entertainment package. It's not bad value either, starting at £10,090.
Brand perception of Skoda tends to be split into those that remember the old days of the Czech company and those that have embraced the new. Even fans of the latter days of the marque would never call the products particularly mean and moody. Yes, the vRS sports versions of the Octavia have something a bit malevolent about them if they're specified right but on the whole Skodas are unpretentious and rather benign things. That image might change a little with the company's latest brand offensive; a range of Black special edition models. Here we take a look at the smallest of the lot, the Citigo Black. Can something this cutesy really be given such a big dose of attitude?
Although the Citigo Black looks like it has something of the night about it, the stuff under the bonnet isn't exactly going to cause you to lose any sleep. It's the same 60PS three-cylinder engine that's found in most other Citigo models and while it's perfectly suited to scooting about town, it's not exactly rippling with sinew. Off the mark it gets to 62mph in 14.4 seconds and tops out at 99mph. Unlike the previous Monte Carlo special edition, you don't get a lowered body and stiffened suspension to boost the Citigo's cornering abilities, so this Black edition is purely a cosmetic job. The plus side of that is that the ride about town is better, the car not jolting over speed humps or being upset by poor surfacing. Still, good steering, high levels of grip and strong brakes mean that the Citigo - along with its SEAT Mii and Volkswagen up! siblings - offer more than the usual city car fare for keener drivers.
Design and Build
Skoda sells the Citigo Black in either three or five-door guises, which is more than you can expect from many of its citycar rivals which often tend to just stick with one body style. The Black Magic Pearlescent paint finish actually suits the little Citigo really well, set off by the 15-inch Auriga black alloy wheels. Thankfully Skoda hasn't gone too far with the colour coding, leaving a bit of contrast in the chromed grille, so as to avoid the 'murdered-out' look that was all the rage for about ten minutes back in 2007. All versions of this car are built in the same Slovakian factory and build quality seems very strong. The dashboard is simply designed, with a clear instrument binnacle and a high-mounted pod that houses the ventilation and audio controls. There's no reach adjustment on the steering column which is a minor grumble but otherwise there's aces of space and adjustability up front. The five-door model has no more rear space than the three-door and while there's no shortage of headroom, it's inevitable that in an city car, rear legroom is pinched if there are taller people up front. The boot is a generous size at 251 litres, which is some recompense.
Market and Model
The Black edition is based on the mid-level SE trim, and gets around £1,200 worth of optional extras which, given that the car is priced at £1,030 above the SE version might not be the deal of the century but still represents a few quid in the back pocket compared to the price had you specified the extras separately. So apart from the pearlescent black paint job and the alloy wheels, what else do you get? In the case of the Citigo it's front fog lights, sunset glass, a Portable Infotainment Device (PID) and an Entertainment package. As you ascend the Skoda range, the equipment on offer gets a bit more generous, but citycar customers are a little more price sensitive, so Skoda has resisted the urge to load the Citigo Black up with goodies like sat nav, heated leather seats and such like. The PID brings the benefits of a trip computer, Bluetooth connectivity and a media player.
Cost of Ownership
As you might well expect from a city car fronting up with 60PS, the Citigo Black returns some quite sterling economy and emissions figures. Fuel economy is quoted at 62.8 mpg on the combined cycle and even around town you might well get close to Skoda's 50.4mpg figure. Emissions are rated at just 105g/km. Residual values look set to be extremely strong, thanks to Skoda's aggressive pricing and burgeoning reputation for customer loyalty. The Skoda won't have things all its own way though. The SEAT Mii and the Volkswagen up! are also clamouring for this share of the market.
The Skoda Citigo Black isn't the most adventurous special edition we can think of, but that's not to say it isn't appealing. There's something very cool about the anti-snob Skoda badge and the black paintwork that just works well in combination. It's a car that talks a subtle kind of language, saying that its owner understands what makes a small car stylish but is independent enough of thought to refuse to be held in the thrall of badges. Clearly the Citigo Black is only going to represent the best value for money if you were thinking of buying virtually all of the extras that could otherwise be fitted to an SE, and even then it might well be the case that you can negotiate a better price on a specced-up SE than you can on this limited run Black. Still, that's something to thrash out between you and your dealer. One thing's for sure. You won't end up feeling short-changed.