Entry-level Skoda city car is competent and practical, but needs a keener price to stand out

What is it?

The most interesting version of the Volkswagen Group’s trio of new city cars, potentially - mainly because it’s the best value. The bottom-rung Skoda Citigo undercuts the equivalent VW Up by £365 and Seat Mii by £215. So with equipment levels being broadly similar across the three entry point models, is there any reason that bargain hunters shouldn’t plump for the Skoda?

What's it like?

Skoda didn’t have ‘S’ trim Citigos on its UK press launch, but our ‘SE’ spec 59bhp test car was close enough to answer the question. The former comes without air conditioning, central locking, electric windows, ESP, split-folding rear seats – much of which you’ll find on slightly pricier basic versions the car’s rivals. ‘SE’ trim adds all of the above, but bumps up the Citigo’s price to level with the cheapest Fiat Pandas and Hyundai i10s.

During our test drive in a Citigo SE, the Skoda impressed in a broad sense. Compared to the ‘A’ segment class standard it’s well built, well appointed, spacious and very usable. The 59bhp engine is a little rougher than the higher-powered engine, but it’s easy to get on with, and delivers enough performance for all but extended motorway use.

The car handles tidily and accurately, and with strong grip and precision for one so small and high-sided. The Citigo’s steering is light and a little uncommunicative, and doesn’t inspire the kind of agility you’ll find in a Hyundai i10 or Fiat Panda, making the Citigo a little dull and uninvolving to drive at times. There’s also a choppiness to the Citigo’s low-speed ride that disappoints in comparison to the outstanding rolling comfort of the VW Up, and a slightly lower-rent, workmanlike feel to some of the Skoda’s cabin fittings relative to the Volkswagen. As with the VW, you don’t get reach adjustment on the steering column of the Skoda, either.

Should I buy one?

Perhaps it’s because the Citigo is more conventional than we’ve come to expect from Skoda’s cars over the last decade, but in a class in the midst of a new metal explosion, it seems to lack a little originality and an outstanding selling point. And while it’s good value, it’s also not cheap enough to be considered the class-leader on price, either.

Bottom line? For an extra four-hundred quid, you’d have the VW.

Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI 60 SE

Price: £8530; 0-62mph: 14.4sec; 
Top speed: 99mph; 
Economy: 62.8mpg; 
Co2: 105g/km; 
Kerbweight: 854kg; 
Engine type, cc: 3cyl, 999cc, petrol; 
Power: 59bhp at 5000-6000rpm; 
Torque: 70lb ft at 3000-4300rpm; 
Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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ianp55 23 May 2012

Skoda Citego

Okay then what's so different about the Up! than the Citego? absolutely nothing!!!! all that the Up has is a VW badge if potential customers think it's worth it, fine that's for them to decide. Speaking personally the only term I can think of is Brand Stupidity, as at this segment of the car market there is no such thing as a premium model

catnip 18 May 2012

Its interesting that Autocar

Its interesting that Autocar comment on the lack of steering reach adjustment. AE did the same with the Mii, but neither have made such a point of it when reviewing the Up. The dashboard on this does look plain, but then you have to go up to the £9000 Move Up before you get it on the VW.

Flash Harry 18 May 2012

To my eyes this looks better

To my eyes this looks better than the Up! The Toyota/PSA triplets and the Fiat Panda beat these three for character and fun imo.