Skoda Citigo

GreenTech 75

Elegance

Skoda Citigo, front
Skoda Citigo, side
Skoda Citigo, side
Skoda Citigo, front, action
Skoda Citigo, rear
Skoda Citigo, interior
Skoda Citigo, boot

LITTLE boxes with a tiny wheel set in each corner, squared off body panels with razor-sharp edges and a high stance that gave the impression it would topple if hit broadside by a strong gust of wind.

That was really all you could expect from those early city car offerings that started to appear just a few years back. But how things have changed.

Okay, the wheels are still positioned to the extreme limits to take advantage of every millimetre of space that's available, but designers are now showing great flair to pen city cars can come with as much appeal and charisma as those seen in larger car classes.

The newest kid on the block is the Skoda Citigo, the Czech company's first foray into the expanding supermini sector, and it comes with its own distinct, fresh approach which is already lighting up the whole marketplace.

With its clean and simple lines, crisp contours and large areas of glass, the Citigo is distinctive and attractive as it is modern.

It comes with a choice of three and five-doors, three trim levels and is powered by a one-litre 59bhp three-cylinder petrol engine or a similar-sized unit tuned to produce 74bhp.

Fuel consumption varies little throughout the 16-model line-up, with combined cycle figures of between 62.8mpg on the entry-level manual S trim model rising to 68.9mpg on its GreenTech sibling, which features stop/start technology, low rolling resistance tyres and brake energy recuperation.

Out on the road the little Skoda drives and rides nicely, especially on smoother surfaces. Quick on the hoof and nippy through busy urban streets, it also handles with great precision.

If only for the extra power, my preference is the 74bhp GreenTech model with its CO2 rating of 98g/km, a top speed of 107mph and combined fuel economy of 67.3mph.

At £9,860 in three-door guise or £10,210 for the five-door model, it is a hard act to beat.

There's even a five-speed automatic version available that costs just an extra £205.

The higher-powered cars are available only in top Elegance trim and are therefore well specced up. Alloy wheels, electric/heated door mirrors, fog lamps, leather steering wheel, front electric windows, air conditioning and heated front seats are all fitted as standard.

Another great feature is Skoda's innovative Portable Infotainment Device which provides Bluetooth connectivity, a satellite navigation system, media player and trip computer.

From a safety aspect, this model also features electronic stability programme, while head and thorax airbags are fitted throughout the Citigo range.

One option worth considering is the City Safe Drive package, an emergency braking function which activates at speeds of 19mph should it detect an impending crash.

The laser-based system can reduce the severity of a low-speed crash by automatically applying the brakes if it believes the driver has been distracted and is not acting to a situation or is not pressing the pedal hard enough.

With more and more owners downsizing and more demand for second or third cars, the supermini market now accounts for nearly 10 per cent of worldwide car sales and the number rising.

Last year, just under six million small cars were sold worldwide, a quarter of them within western Europe and Skoda predicts a 25 per cent growth in this figure by 2014 and a whopping 40 per cent by 2019.

However, there's plenty competiton out there, with the likes of Kia, Hyundai, Fiat, Citroen, Peugeot, Ford all producing great city cars within their portfoilios. Add

to that the SEAT Mii and VW Up! which come from the same corporate stable as Skoda, then you can understand why the Czech brand has pulled out all the stops to get the Citigo right - and priced right - from day one.

Chic, spacious, practical and nimble the Citigo has already been named Car of the Year by Auto Express magazine.

Now all that remains to be seen is if Skoda will be able to keep up with its undoubted demand.

FAST FACTS

Skoda Citigo GreenTech 75 Elegance

Price: £9,860

Mechanical: 74bhp, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels tvia 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 107mph

0-62mph: 12.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 67.3

Insurance Group: 1

C02 emissions: 98g/km

Bik rating: 10%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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