The Skoda Citigo is a slick, chirpy take on the city car theme that can't fail to score big. And it makes sense in 1.0 75PS GreenTech form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Skoda's first foray into the city car sector is a cracker. The Citigo is an urban tot spun off the same platform and built in the same factory as the Volkswagen up! and the SEAT Mii but it might just offer the best value of the lot, especially in pokey but eco-friendly 1.0 75PS GreenTech guise. It's a genuine contender for class honours straight out of the crate.
Opting for more power in your citycar usually means compromising on running costs. And if you're wanting a vehicle of this kind, that's something you'll probably be unwilling to do. So what are we to make of this car, the Citigo 1.0 75PS GreenTech? Thanks to a far-reaching package of eco-tweaks, it's actually able to better the fuel and CO2 returns of the feebler entry-level 60PS Citigo, yet provide power that'll see you far better placed when your car is loaded up to the gills or trying to accelerate down a motorway slip road. Makes sense, especially when this particular variant is available at a price which would only buy you this engine in its dirtier, thirstier form, were you to opt for this model's clone, the SEAT Mii. The other car based on this platform, Volkswagen's little up!, would actually cost you £1,000 more with this exact same engine. Seems like this Citigo has plenty going for it then.
All three cars spun off this chassis, up!, Mii and Citigo, have one thing in common; an almost uncannily good ride. In order to make a vehicle ride well, it usually helps if it has a long wheelbase. The Citigo doesn't. Its 2.42m wheelbase is admittedly good going for a city car, but it's what the engineers have done with suspension design and componentry that really makes the little Skoda soak up road imperfections like a family hatch. The 75PS version of this car offers exactly the same 95NM torque figure as its 60PS stablemate but is a little faster, as you'd think it should be. Rest to sixty occupies 13.2s on the way to 107mph. So if you're choosing a Citigo for anything other than pure urban duties, this more powerful engine is definitely the one to go for. Good steering, high levels of grip and strong brakes mean that the little Skoda offers more than the usual city car fare for keener drivers.
Design and Build
There are three and five-door bodystyles on offer and unlike some five-door city cars that look uncomfortably cramped in profile with a set of rear doors, the Skoda still retains a clean shape. Although it's clearly been developed from the Volkswagen up!, the Citigo's front end offers, to this eye at least, a bolder styling touch and it's been the work of Jozef Kaban, who has the Bugatti Veyron on his CV. 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
You can order the Citigo in 75PS GreenTech guise only in high-spec Elegance trim at pricing starting from around £10,000. Still, that does mean you get a lot of kit for your cash, with features including alloy wheels, heated seats, a leather-covered steering wheel and the PID Personal Infotainment device that'll give you sat nav, 'phone, media player and vehicle information functions. All Citigo models get twin front and side airbags, anti lock brakes, a CD stereo radio with an AUX-in slot to pipe music form an MP3 player and there are also the almost obligatory daytime running lights. Skoda is looking to offer a wider range of personalisation options than it has on many of its models and the Sport and Design package looks as if it could be a winner, offering black metallic or silver decals and the choice of either 14", 15" or 16" alloy wheels finished in either black or silver.The Citigo might be small but a number of big car features are offered. The 'City Safe Drive' system uses laser sensors and can apply the brakes at speeds below 18mph to vastly reduce the risk of bumping into the car ahead in city traffic.
Cost of Ownership
Go for this slightly pokier 75PS variant and there's hardly any penalty at the pumps. Unlike SEAT and Volkswagen, Skoda includes its efficiency package (with start/stop and everything else) as standard with this engine, so the returns achieved - 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and 98g/km - are substantially better than the 75PS SEAT Mii or Volkswagen up! models you'd get for the same or more money. Whether you opt for your Citigo with 60 or 75PS, the benefits of the efficiency package are important given that they take this car below the 100g/km barrier, making it completely free from congestion charges and delivering all kinds of tax benefits. Whichever variant you end up with, there are all kinds of tools to help you maximise its frugality. A gearshift indicator is provided on the dash to help ordinary users get somewhere near these kinds of quoted returns on a day-to-day basis. What else? Well, though residuals might not be quite at Volkswagen levels, they'll certainly equal those of the more expensive SEAT version of this design and be easily as good - if not rather better - than rivals from Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat and Kia. Skoda reckons you'll get between 47 and 51% of your original purchase price back after a typical three year/30,000 mile ownership term. Servicing should be very affordable, as will insurance, rated at either group 1 or 2 on the 1-50 groupings scale.
The Skoda Citigo does everything it needs to and more. If its importers can keep prices razor-sharp, it'll fly out of the showrooms, even in this top 1.0 75PS GreenTech guise. It looks good, offers plenty of space, a keen enough drive and seems very well screwed together. Factor in running costs that are minuscule, some interesting trim options and a strong warranty and you have a very convincing package. Unlike many city cars which verge on the twee, the Citigo feels functional and mature. While this may strike it from the lists of twentysomethings who may well prefer something cheekier like a Fiat 500, the Skoda is a product that doesn't need to rely on cutesy gimmicks. It's just solid good sense. The seats are comfortable, the control weights are just so and the cabin ergonomics are mostly spot-on. Chalk up another winner for Skoda.