Skoda Citigo hatchback (2012 – ) expert review

By Andy Goodwin, 22nd November 2013

The verdict

The Skoda Citigo is the most youthful model in Skoda’s range, and is sure to attract urbanites with its low running costs and by being downright fun to own.

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Expert rating:

4.1

Pros

  • Very refined, with a genuine big-car feel
  • Good to drive both in and out of town
  • Excellent fuel economy and low emissions

Cons

  • The Volkswagen up! is more desirable
  • Frustrating portable sat-nav unit
  • Lower-powered engine can struggle out of town

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Skoda Citigo is a sister car to the Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii, so there’s no surprise it looks very similar to them. However, we think the finned Skoda grille sits very comfortably on the car and that the styling of the Citigo is rather more exciting and youthful than on most of the company’s other cars. The most basic S versions are little plain – the door mirrors and handles are black, for example – but as you head up the range, things get much smarter. On SE models, the grille is chrome-trimmed, and the mirrors and handles body-coloured, while Sport models sit on lower, sports suspension, and have extra decals and a sports bodykit.

Our rating: 4

2. Interior

Just because the Citigo is a small, cheap car, don’t think it’s a no-frills affair. There’s style here, and it’s functional too, although naturally things get smarter the further up the range you go. Go for SE rather than S, for example, and you get smart black inserts on the dashboard, while Sport models have smarter upholstery, a three-spoke steering wheel and leather trim on the handbrake and gear lever; top Elegance models get chrome trim on the door handles and dashboard. It’s functional, too, with nets attached to the side bolsters of the front seats for drinks bottles from SE trim upwards, a mobile phone slot which sits in the cup holder and even a clip on the dashboard to hold a photo or map in view.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

For a small car, the Citigo has a remarkable amount of space inside, and although the steering wheel adjusts only for height, it’s easy enough to find a good driving position. Front and rear, there’s enough room for adults, and although access to the rear seats is easier in the five-door models, all three-door models from SE upwards have ‘easy entry’ sliding front seats. The 251 litre boot (identical to the Up and Mi’s) is uncannily large for a car in this class, with plenty of room for a big shopping trip or a weekend away. It’s easy to load, too, and if you fold down the rear seats (60/40 split from SE trim upwards), you have 951 litres of space to play with.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

Like the Mii and Up, the Citigo is a remarkably mature little car, and a more complete package than the Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500 or Kia Picanto can offer. It will come as no surprise that such a small car is perfect for nipping around town, but the shock is that high-speed refinement is very good, making this a city car which stays firmly in its comfort zone out of town and on the motorway. In fact, it’s a generally good car to drive, with nice steering and fun, precise handling. There’s a little body roll when cornering quickly, but the supple suspension setup also allows bumps to be soaked up and not reverberated through the cabin, giving a genuine big-car feel.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

The 1.0-litre petrol engine – the only choice in the Citigo – is available with 59 or 73bhp, and each with 95lb/ft of pulling power. Both feel powerful enough for the car, despite relatively poor on-paper zero to 62mph acceleration times of 14.4 and 13.2 seconds. The more powerful engine only feels quicker at higher speeds out of town, so if you keep your Citigo within the city limits, it’s not needed, but country and motorway drivers will appreciate the extra pace. What impresses most is the smoothness of the engine: even under heavy acceleration, it emits a pleasant growl. An automatic gearbox is also available, but we’d stick to the five-speed manual ‘box.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

Again, it will come as no surprise that a small car with a small engine has low running costs. GreenTech models – with stop and start, brake energy recuperation and low rolling resistance tyres – emit 95g/km of CO2 and average 68.9mpg (so road tax is free), but even the least economical versions average 62.8mpg. On top of that, every model sits in one of the two lowest insurance groups, which also keeps running costs down. Residual values are good, although the similar (but dearer) VW Up will retain a higher proportion of its value over time.

Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

We don’t forsee any significant reliability issues with the Citigo thanks to its incredibly thorough development and Skoda’s excellent track record. Although it’s an all-new model, it features proven technology, and owner reviews of the Citigo’s sister cars give us no cause for concern.

Our rating: 4

8. Safety

With a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, the Citigo boasts impressive safety for a car of its size: it scored an impressive 89 per cent for adult occupant safety and 80 per cent for child protection – critial in the class of car used to transport most rear bench baby seats according to recent research. Four airbags are standard – two front and two side ‘bags – but Stability Control is only standard from SE trim upwards. Optional across the range, and at a reasonable price, is City-Safe feature, which can automatically perform an emergency stop at speeds of between 3 and 19mph if an imminent collision is detected. This is designed to minimise or even avoid the damage caused by low-speed collisions in traffic – which make up the majority of accidents.

Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Buyers can choose between S, SE, Sport and Elegance trim levels, but S is a little too basic for our liking. Our recommendation is to go for at least SE trim, which brings more creature comforts like air-con, central locking and electric front windows. As the name implies, Sport gives the Citigo a more sporty look and feel, with alloy wheels and a bodykit, as well as a portable sat-nav/infotainment unit. At the top of the range, Elegance has front fog lights, heated front seats and smarter interior trim. There are plenty of options, too, with several packs that are unique to certain trim levels, as well as a range of accessories, including everything from sill plates to roof bars.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Launched alongside the Volkswagen up! and SEAT Mii, the Skoda Citigo might not be the most desirable of the trio – that honour goes to the up! – but it offers the best value.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.1stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Pic of the range:

1.0 MPI 60PS SE 3dr

A good list of standard equipment, as well as decent performance.

Most economical:

1.0 MPI 60PS GreenTech

Averages the best part of 70mpg, and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions mean zero road tax

Best avoided:

1.0 MPI 60PS S

The standard equipment is too sparse for us to recommend

Just because the Citigo is a small, cheap car, don’t think it’s a no-frills affair