We’re told the best things come in small packages, three is a magic number, and off the back of the Yeti and Superb, Skoda is on a roll at the moment.
So the new Skoda Citigo, the Volkswagen group’s third and final iteration of its new Up city car platform, should be rather good. We drove the lowest powered version, resplendent in top-of-the-range Citigo 1.0 Elegance trim, to find out.
Isn’t the Skoda Citigo just another VW Up clone?
Yes, but Skoda has tried its best to set the Citigo apart from its Volkswagen and Seat brethren with some natty individualisation options. More of that later, but first let’s run through the familiar bits.
The new Skoda Citigo is just over three-and-a-half metres long, yet its boxy profile and wheel-at-each-corner stance afford it class-leading interior space. Certainly, it’s no Rolls-Royce Phantom inside, but it shades the C1/107/Aygo family for cat-swinging capaciousness.
The interior really is the headline act for this new generation of VW city cars, and the Citigo is no exception. The cabin is of solid, logical construction with glossy highlights around dashboard controls to hammer home the heightened perceived luxury. Body-coloured metal on the top of the door skins, like on the Mk1 Ford Ka, also brightens the interior ambience.
Practical function has’t overruled quality form either. The steering wheel adjusts for driver height, there’s lots of leeway in the seat, and although the boot is high-lipped, its considerable depth adds up to 251 litres of cargo room, almost double that which lurks behind an Aygo’s glassy hatch.
A familar story on the quality front then. What’s the Citigo like to drive?
Sampled back-to-back with the recently facelifted but ageing Citroen C1, as I did, the refinement advantages to the Citigo are obvious, though it’s still by no means a lukewarm hatch. Unlike CAR’s first drive of the Seat Mii, our Citigo boasted the entry level powerplant – another 1.0-litre normally aspirated petrol three-pot, but one good for just 59bhp.
The irrelevant 16 second 0-62mph sprint might look unacceptably tardy for a 2012 car, but the sub-tonne Citigo is plenty perky enough up to 2012 city driving speeds (that’ll be 10-20mph then). And the pay-offs for modest power are stirring a well-damped gearchange and a rorty triple-cylinder thrum when you’re in the upper reaches of the diddy tachometer’s rev-range, incidentally not as overbearing as the ‘broken Porsche’ soundtrack of the C1.
Another advantage of the space-efficient, minimal overhang stance is perky handling. Slab-sided it may be, but the Citigo can be tipped into tight turns or hustled along a B-road at a perfectly acceptable rate, with body roll always erring on the comical rather than scary side. In any case, standard ABS and stability control will intervene to assist the skinny eco-biased tyres long before the Citigo does itself – or its occupants – a mischief. That said, a C1 will push wide earlier, and feels less planted in rapid directional changes.
Safety and tech hasn’t been forgotten in the back-to-basics Citigo?
Don’t let the diminutive looks fool you – in addition to the electronic driving aids, the Citigo has a full complement of airbags, including side-mounted thorax protection as well as the familar frontal devices.
If that safety gambit means considering a Citigo for sons and daughters, bear in mind Skoda has covered the customisation angle to appeal to younger drivers. Painted wheels, roof panels and optional stripes all feature to tailor the Citigo to your (or your little darling’s) personal preference. Also likely to be popular is the dashboard-mounted PID (Portable Infotainment Device), which controls Bluetooth, navigation and music, like a car-friendly miniature iPad.
Verdict: should I buy a Skoda Citigo?
If price is the prime concern, then certainly consider one – the Citigo is the cheapest of the VW/Seat/Skoda trio in base form, starting from £7630, and of course has the same class-leading cabin and perky drive as its sisters.
Ultimately, it’ll come down to personal styling preferences and the locality of your particular dealer, but with CAR having recommended the Up and Mii, there’s no surprise ending here: the Skoda Citigo is an extremely well-judged city car, and deservedly serves to strengthen the Czech firm’s impressive range further.