New 161-mile electric version of the Volkswagen Up city car appears as a very similar but better-priced Skoda

No mystery here. This is the Skoda version of the new Volkswagen e-Up, with a single 82bhp electric motor driving the front wheels directly and no need for a clutch or gearbox. 

This simple powertrain’s peak torque, delivered from standstill, is an impressive 156lb ft, which is why the 0-62mph acceleration time is a respectable 12.3sec and the top speed is 80mph.

It feels much faster in acceleration than its claimed 0-62mph time would have you believe, mainly because maximum torque is delivered from standstill, so it zips away from traffic lights with the best.

Range is the burning issue, of course. The e-Up used to run on a modest 18.7kW battery, for which its maker claimed a 99-mile range. But the new version and the newly electrified Citigo and Seat Mii have almost exactly double the battery capacity: 36.8kW, of which 32.3kW is usable. Yet their claimed range is only 161 miles, perhaps because we’ve moved into an era when such figures have to be more 'real world'.

There will be two versions of the Citigo-e offered in the UK early next year: the SE and the better equipped SE L. Our Dutch-spec test car was closest to SE L and acceptably well equipped, with electric front windows, heated front seats, remote central locking, rear parking sensors, basic 'ambient' air conditioning, body-colour mirrors and doorhandles and an on-board charger capable of accepting 40kW. At this rate, the battery can be replenished from zero to 80% in just one hour.

The SE L costs £22,815 (£19,315 including the Government’s £3500 grant). The cheaper version, which as standard can be charged only from a three-pin plug or 7kW wallbox (still perfectly adequate for many a drive-to-school-or-station application), saves you £2360. At £16,995 post-grant, the Citigo-e iV is one of the cheapest electric car options going.

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It feels much faster in acceleration than its claimed 0-62mph time would have you believe, mainly because, as with all electric cars, its maximum torque is delivered from standstill, so it can zip away from traffic lights with the best. 

It’s no long-distance cruiser, although 65-70mph feels comfortable enough. And while we had no opportunity to test the range fully, several circuits of a fairly long city route appeared to show that 161 miles is no lie.

In tight going, the Citigo-e iV comes into its own, as you’d expect. Small dimensions and quick steering make it feel quite sporty and fun to drive, even though the suspension rates (and possibly an insulation effect from the underfloor battery) also make it surprisingly quiet and smooth when riding over cobbled streets.

There are two app-based assistance systems. Skoda Connect allows you to check battery charge, turn the air-con on or off (while charging) and stop a charging session. Then there’s Move & Fun, which allows you to do some of the same stuff but also preset charging times to take advantage of lower electricity costs.

The Citigo-e iV looks a good proposition, provided you know what you need it for. This is no motorway cruiser; it’s barely fast enough and you’ll run the battery down rapidly. B-road sojourns of 30-50 miles are no problem, but the car’s real métier is zipping about the inner and outer reaches of cities.

It's compact, good-looking, well proven and well priced. For the right owner, it should be long-lasting, extremely frugal and a lot of fun.

Skoda Citigo-e iV First drives