Skoda Citigo hatchback (2012 – ) expert review

By Andy Pringle, 24th April 2014

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 a lower sports suspension and have extra decals and a sporty 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, 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: from SE trim upwards, you get nets attached to the side bolsters of the front seats for drinks bottles, a mobile phone slot that sits in the cup holder and even a clip on the dashboard to hold a parking ticket/permit or map in view.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

For a small car, the Citigo has a remarkable amount of space inside and even though 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: access to the rear seats is easier in the five-door models, but three-door models from SE upwards have ‘easy entry’ sliding front seats. The 251-litre boot (identical to the Up and Mii) is uncannily large for a car in this class, with plenty of room for a big shopping trip or a weekend away. It’s also easy to load 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. 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 59bhp or 73bhp, each having 95lb-ft of pulling power. Both feel pleasantly perky in town, but the less powerful version can start to struggle at motorway speeds. It’s definitely worth upgrading to the more powerful unit if you regularly take your car out of the city limits. 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

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 – have CO2 emissions of 95g/km and average 68.9mpg, but even the least economical versions average 62.8mpg. On top of that, every model sits in low insurance groups, which also helps keep 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 foresee any significant reliability issues with the Citigo thanks to its incredibly thorough development and Skoda’s excellent track record. It features proven technology and owner reviews of the Citigo, and its 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% for adult occupant safety and 80% for child protection. 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, which can automatically perform an emergency stop at speeds of between 3mph 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 incorporates creature comforts such as 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?

Like its sister cars, the Volkswagen Up and the Seat Mii, the Skoda Citigo is one of the best city cars on the market. It might not be the most desirable car 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

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.