All go for new Skoda

Citigo

WHEN it comes to being judged on sales figures alone, then 200,000 or so buyers in the six years since its launch will have marketing men of the silky Skoda Citigo smarting huge smiles on their faces.

And rightly so, for not only did the Czech car maker's little baby have to compete with a whole raft of brand new city cars that seemed to flood the market all at once from out of nowhere, the Citigo had also to go head-to-head with its formidable Volkswagen up! and Seat Mii stablemates.

However, aggressive pricing, along with Skoda's growing reputation for quality and additional extras in the form of what Skoda call their "simply clever solutions", have all helped make the Citigo the success story it has been.

Now the stylish city car has been given a facelift. Nothing too major, but enough to help keep it keen and fresh.

The engines and other running gear have all been left as they were, but a new grille, bonnet and bumpers and other exterior styling tweaks here and there, including new alloys on higher spec models, mean that Skoda have made just enough changes outside in order to make the updated Citigo stand out from the outgoing model.

Inside, upgrades including a new multi-function steering wheel and redesigned instrument cluster are the major changes, while the latest Swing infotainment system, offering Bluetooth and six speakers, comes as standard on SE and above versions.

This system allows on-board sat nav via either an Android or iOS smartphone housed in a cradle on top of the dash.

Completing the revamp, Skoda have added a host of new features to their "simply clever" list, including a waste bin designed to fit into the door bins, a bag hook housed in the glovebox handle and they have even added an umbrella to the list of standard features a-la Superb style, but in the case of the Citigo, the brolly is stored under the front passenger seat.

Two versions of the VW group's highly-acclaimed 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine are reserved for the newcomer, delivering either 59bhp or 74bhp and the new range, which is available now, consists of 18 models, split equally between three and five-door door versions including sporty Monte Carlo models.

I had been a long time since I had driven a Citigo, so it was nice to get the chance to get behind the wheel again and get acquainted with the newcomer on something of a mad scramble through the heavy traffic of its home city of Prague.

The latest model certainly proved it was up for the job, mixing it with not only the usual build-up of lorries, buses and commuter traffic, but also contending with the masses of tram car lines that criss-cross the city.

Like all small city cars, the Citigo is more comfortable on smooth surfaced roads, but it still handles well on more challenging surfaces.

Quick on the hoof - top speed for the lower-powered model is 100mph - and nippy enough around town, the steering is light to the feel, while there's plenty of grip to keep the car on the straight and narrow.

With its clean and simple lines, crisp contours, low waist line and large areas of glass, the Citigo is still attractive as it is good looking.

The Citigo is also available in five trim levels, with prices ranging from £8,440 to £11,395.

Fuel consumption varies little throughout the line-up, with combined cycle figures of between 64.2mpg on the entry-level manual S model, rising to 68.9mpg on the GreenTech versions, which feature stop/start technology, low rolling resistance tyres and brake energy recuperation.

For only for the extra power, my preference would be the 74bhp GreenTech model with its C02 rating of 96g/km, fuel consumption of 68.6mpg and top speed of 107mph.

Priced at £10,740 in three-door guise or £11,090 for the five-door model, both these little Skodas are something of a hard act to beat.

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