Skoda Citigo review

  • VW Up-based city car
  • From £7500 (est)
  • On sale June 2012
What is it? The Citigo is Skoda’s take on the Volkswagen Up city car.

The vast majority of the underpinnings are identical between the two cars – along with Seat’s offering, called Mii – but every body panel is different. Skoda has grafted on a nose that looks slightly more grown-up and premium than the Up’s – which is ironic, considering that we expect the Citigo to be the cheapest of the trio.

The cabin gets a degree of Czech personalisation, too, although it’s mainly in materials; the architecture remains broadly similar.

Two engines will be offered at launch, each mated to a five-speed manual transmission (an automatic will be an option). The engines are three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol units in differing states of tune; the entry-level edition has 59bhp and 70lb ft, while the more potent version has the same torque figure but more poke, at 74bhp.

What’s it like to drive? Very decent indeed. We tried both power outputs, and while neither can be described as racy, they’re nippy enough for urban traffic. The 74bhp version does feel more at home out of town, though.

The three-cylinder engine is refined when cruising. It's also smooth enough when asked to deliver in a hurry, although this does increase the noise. In these areas at least, the Citigo feels a more mature offering than the Hyundai i10 or Kia Picanto.

With the Citigo's relatively modest power figures, you won’t expect great performance, and you won’t get it. The lowly Citigo takes a leisurely 13.9sec to reach 62mph, and even the higher-powered version can’t manage it in less than 12 seconds.

The gearshift is slick and direct, as is the steering, although it still can’t quite match the i10’s ‘turn-on-the-nose’ sharpness.

The ride feels firm, and well damped – so it'll do a good job of managing body control, but risks being caught out by the worst of Britain’s road surfaces. We’ll reserve final judgement until we try one on UK roads.

What’s it like inside? Roomy for two adults and two children, and fair for four adults – as long as a couple of them are under six feet tall. The rear has bags of headroom and feels bright and airy, but legroom will become an issue if the front seats need to be pushed back. Access to the rear is decent, although it’s easier to get in than it is to climb out.

The seats are all rather flat and unsupportive, but there’s a decent range of adjustment in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel adjusts for height, but not for reach. The boot is a reasonable size, at 251 litres, and it expands to almost 1000 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There isn’t a single piece of soft-touch finish anywhere on the dashboard or door linings, but that doesn’t mean the Citigo feels cheap. Instead it’s smart and functional, with an uncluttered instrument panel and a textured plastic finish that’s in a different league to a Hyundai i10’s fascia (the Picanto’s runs it closer).

Standard-fit items include practical touches such as a hook for handbags (integrated into the glovebox handle) and net pockets on the inside edges of the front seats; they’re a perfect size for modern smartphones or a small bottle of water.

Should I buy one? Yes. The Citigo has the mechanical appeal of the Up, yet looks set to offer a better-value proposition.

Skoda dealers will need to discount if it’s to do the same to the Koreans, but even if there is a slight premium, this version of the VW Group city car looks extremely well judged.

Kia Picanto
Volkswagen Up

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