The Skoda Citigo is a slick, chirpy take on the city car theme that's been lightly improved in recent times. And it makes sense in 1.0 MPI 75PS GreenTech form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Review
Skoda's first foray into the city car sector has proved to be 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 offers the best value of the lot, even in this pokier but still eco-friendly 1.0 75PS GreenTech guise. And it's been lightly revised in the guise we're going to look at here.
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. So what's different with this revised model? Well, the front section has been subtly revised, so there's a new bonnet, a redesigned radiator grille, modified bumpers and updated fog lights, all aiming to create a fresher, younger look. The front headlights are fitted with LED daytime running lights and the fog lights come with an optional cornering function, which lights up the area the vehicle is turning into on junctions with poor visibility. Plusher 'SE' models get tinted tail lights too. The changes have increased this diminutive little car's body length by 34mm but it's still not much longer than a Fiat 500, yet offers far more room inside, space in fact for the four fully-sized adults who could never comfortably fit in the apparently space-efficient Italian car. How has this been done? By shortening the front and rear overhangs as much as the designers dared, something only possible at the front by mounting the radiator alongside rather than in front of the very compact engine.
Talking of the interior, well it too has been upgraded with a smarter instrument cluster and redesigned seats. There are also a range of new radio and media connectivity options. Otherwise, things are much as before, with the tardis-like interior just as big as that of Skoda's far pricier and apparently much bigger Fabia supermini. Something you especially appreciate on the back seat. Both three and five-door models offer the same amount of rear passenger space and reach a standard that's impressive in this segment. It all means that there's comfortable room for two adults provided the journey isn't too long and there'd be space for three children if three belts were provided here. Unfortunately, there are only two, which is a little annoying.
No complaints about luggage space though. Though there's a high sill over which you've to lump your stuff, once you get it in, there's a 251-litre capacity that's nearly twice what you get in a Peugeot 108, a Citroen C1, a Toyota Aygo or a MINI.
Market and Model
You can order the Citigo in 75PS GreenTech guise only in high-spec 'SE L' trim at pricing starting from around £11,000. Still, that does mean you get a lot of kit for your cash, with features including alloy wheels, heated seats and a leather-covered steering wheel. Your dealer will be keen to tell you about the new-generation 'Blues' and 'Swing' radio packages that offer more connectivity options - ranging from an aux-in socket to an SD card slot and a USB socket. A colour display, six speakers and a Bluetooth connection are added to the 'Swing' set-up. Using this, the system can be connected to the driver's smartphone, which is stored in a special smartphone holder on the dashboard. The apps running on the iOS and Android smartphone operating systems provide navigation, a driving data display, hands-free phone calls as well as playing music and the radio.
Like all Citigo models, this one gets 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. This Skoda 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 - 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and 96g/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.
Overall, the Skoda Citigo does everything it needs to and more. 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, even in this pricier 75PS guise.
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.