Skoda's city car gets more standard equipment and remains decent to drive, but the Citigo still lacks the sophistication of the VW Up or the dynamism of the Hyundai i10

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The Skoda Citigo is the Czech car maker’s rebadged and subtly restyled version of the Volkswagen Up and Seat Mii city car.

It shares its engines, gearboxes, underpinnings and chassis components withthe related its more premium VW-badged sibling and rival, so, setting aside the badge differences, how do you distinguish a Citigo from an Up?

The Citigo, along with its siblings, is a good city car and surprisingly easy to live with

Telling the Citigo apart from the VW Up

There are some minor styling tweaks – notably to the front-end treatment, the shape of the front headlamps and the rear side-window. The Citigo’s finned grille set in a chrome-plated frame is a scaled-down version of that seen on the MissionL concept car, and shows the stylistic way forward for the Czech marque’s ever-expanding range.

A 2017 facelift, saw the front grille tweaked, the front and rear bumpers modified, which has extended the length by 34mm, and the bonnet was given a semi-aggressive bulge, while the majority of changes have been made to the alloy designs and body colour choice - with the spring green which accompanied the little Citigo at its launch replaced with a more pleasing-on-the-eye Kiwi Green.

Other changes have been minimal from the original car, with the interior given a much needed boost. Gone was the Garmin-powered sat nav unit which acted as the Citigo's multimedia infotainment system, and it has been replaced with a 5.0in colour display and a smartphone dock complete with a USB port and Skoda's Move&Fun app which combines sat nav, bluetooth connectivity, radio and driving data all from your phone's display.

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The engine powering the Skoda Citigo

Engine-wise, there are two 1.0-litre petrol offerings, one with 59bhp and the other with 74bhp. Both produce 70lb ft of torque from the naturally aspirated, all-alloy, 12-valve unit and come with a five-speed manual gearbox, although an automated sequential gearbox is available. Greentech versions are also offered, which deliver marginal improvements in efficiency thanks to lowered suspension, low rolling-resistance tyres and other minor upgrades. One disappointment is that the 1.0-litre TSI engine available in the Up, isn't avail

Safety equipment includes a head-thorax side airbag – a first in any Skoda, let alone the smallest one – and the City Safe Drive (CSD) brake assist system. At speeds up to 19mph, CSD uses a laser sensor to automatically slow the car if it senses there is a danger of a collision.

As for the other standard equipment, the entry-level S model comes with 14in steel wheels, two speakers, manual ventilation controls, an infotainment system complete with USB connectivity, SD card slot and a CD player, and electric front windows.

Upgrade to the SE and you'll find 14in alloy wheels, darkened rear lights, body coloured wing mirrors and door handles, LED day-running lights, manual air conditioning, height adjustable driver's seat and Skoda's latest infotainment system with a 5.0in colour display and smartphone dock fitted as standard.

Choosing a Colour Edition Citigo allows you to choose whether you have black or white 15in alloy wheels, metallic paint, front foglights and tinted rear windows.

The sporty looking Monte Carlo model gets black 15in alloy wheels, lowered suspension, an aggressive-looking bodykit, a leather steering wheel, floor mats and lots of red interior trim, while the range-topping SE-L trim gets 15in alloy wheels, chrome door handles, leather clad steering wheel, gearstick and handbrake, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors.

Testing the Skoda Citigo's city car credentials

The Citigo is willing and peppy to drive, well engineered and ticks all of the car-about-town boxes. In 74bhp form, the three-pot, 999cc engine is quite refined and, as well as its urban prowess, feels capable of handling motorway cruises without any fuss. But don't discount the 59bhp version, which with the same peak twist as its more powerful sibling, is equally gutsy and refined, happily taking motorway cruising in its stride.

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The light-but-precise electro-hydraulic power steering reinforces the sensation that this is a fairly agile car that's easy to guide in and out of traffic. The Citigo's low- and medium-speed ride, however, isn't as outstanding as that of Volkswagen Up. Lower-end versions on 14in steel wheels cross uneven town surfaces with noticably less comfort and finesse than the most refined cars in the class.

Both cars offer decent fuel economy and are cleaner than their predecessors. In five-door form, the 59bhp car returned a claimed 68.9mpg on the combined cycle while emitting 96g/km of CO2, while the 74bhp version the same CO2 output and a simple combined cycle result.

In terms of layout, the cabin is sensibly thought-out, with all the controls in logical positions and easy-to-use switchgear. Taking centre-stage on the dashboard is a removable 5.0in multimedia device that can be used for navigation, as a hands-free phone or on-board computer, and is integrated into the car’s audio system. Some hard plastics on the dashboard, however, provide a reminder that this is a low-cost machine.

Despite that, the cabin is a pleasant place to be, with more width than you’d consider possible when you survey the Skoda Citigo’s svelte dimensions from the outside. There’s enough rear legroom for adults of medium height to sit line astern, but a pair of six-footers might struggle for space, particularly on longer trips.

Boot space is 251 litres – good by small car standards and enough to accommodate the weekly grocery shop – and grows by an extra 708 litres when the rear seats are lowered.

The Citigo shows its town car credentials with a number of practical and clever storage ideas in the cabin. The boot gets two stowing nets, the dashboard’s glovebox handle features a bag hook (perfect for a handbag, which hints that Skoda hopes the car will particularly appeal to a female market) and there’s even a clip on the centre console to hold a photograph of your nearest and dearest. 

If you’re in the market for a small but practical city car, the Skoda Citigo is without doubt worthy of consideration. In terms of fuel economy and low running costs alone, the Citigo will be a competitive proposition, but unlike many of the Czech brand's other models, it seems to lack originality - as well as the highly developed refinement of its Volkswagen sister car. It also lacks in the dynamism department something the Korean pair - Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto - don't lack.

In other words, the Citigo is still a reasonably price and good city car, its just that is competition has increased two-fold.


Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

Skoda Citigo 2012-2019 First drives