Skoda Citigo Elegance GreenTech
by David Finlay (13 July 2012)
Regular readers will already be well aware of this, but first-timers may not know that Skoda's new city car is - by extension if not in actual fact - the 2012 World Car of the Year. Although the WCotY jury actually gave this honour to the Volkswagen up!, both the Citigo and the SEAT Mii are to all intents and purposes the same thing, with only the badges, a few styling changes and some detail differences in specification to separate them.
Every one of these adventurously-named machines is of a quality which would not have been expected of anything in their class just a few years ago, and they all have much more luggage capacity than their size and shape would suggest. They also share the same one-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which makes the car wobble slightly at rest but is very smooth once it's up and running, and is offered in 59bhp and 74bhp forms.
Other people have other views on this, but for me the 59bhp version is perfectly adequate for the job. The Citigo tested here, however, uses the 74bhp one, and Skoda - like Volkswagen but unlike SEAT - has used this as the basis of one of its low-CO2 specials to which it gives the name GreenTech.
The 59bhp GreenTech, available only in the mid-range SE trim level, has better "green" figures than the more powerful and better-equipped Elegance GreenTech under consideration here, but there's not much in it. The greater straightline performance of the Elegance is matched by only a modest drop in combined fuel economy from 68.9mpg to 67.3mpg, while the rise in official CO2 emissions from 96g/km to 98g/km is equally trivial.
The higher CO2 figure still keeps the Elegance in the zone where it's exempt from both Vehicle Excise Duty (a trifling matter, since less economical Citigos are taxed at only £20 per year) and the London congestion charge (much more important, but only if your lifestyle is such that you would normally have to pay it).
As for the fuel economy, the official statistic is unlikely to be matched - even with the help of the GreenTech's stop/start system - if you spend all your time driving in urban areas, which at first sight would seem to be home territory for the Citigo.
But this is not a single-use car. Before settling down to write this review, I was chatting with a colleague who said he would be quite prepared to embark on a long journey in it, and having recently driven nearly 900 miles in less than a day in an up! with no more than the expected ill effects I can confirm that that car is surprisingly relaxing in those conditions, and there is no reason to think that either the Citigo or the Mii would be any different.
I strongly feel that the very best models in the Volkswagen Group's titchy triumvirate are the most basic, and in that context it's worth noting that the cheapest Citigo, at £7630, undercuts the equivalent Mii by over £200 and the entry-level up! by not far short of £400.
That, however, is a side issue in any discussion of the Elegance GreenTech, since it costs £9860, and is therefore slightly more expensive than rock-bottom examples of the Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa and even Skoda's own Fabia.
Still, it's quite well-equipped. Like all other Citigo Elegances, this one comes as standard with 14" alloy wheels (lesser models run on steels), heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, heated front seats, a leather-rimmed steering wheel and the PID, or Portable Information Device, which is the same Navigon system available in the SEAT and Volkswagen ranges and combines Bluetooth connectivity, a media player, a trip computer and a satellite navigation system.
The last of these has come under a lot of criticism, not least from our own Tom Stewart - a man of strong views, forthrightly expressed - who felt moved to describe it in his launch report of the Citigo as "crap and in urgent need of further development". But when it works, it works well, and at least it's better than no satnav at all.
The test car was also fitted with the Entertainment Pack - simply four additional speakers and a holder for your multimedia device - and the Safety Pack which consists of an "off" switch for the passenger airbag and the City Safe system which applies the brakes at speeds of up to 18mph if it senses that a collision is likely and the driver isn't doing anything to avoid it.
These goodies took the price to £10,140, and you can go further. The other optional extras available for the Elegance are a Convenience Pack (cruise control and rear parking sensors), a Summer Pack (panoramic sunroof and tinted glass), the tinted glass on its own, an ashtray, metallic paint, a spare wheel (compulsory standard fitment on all cars once I'm in charge) and, for customers who reckon they will be all but living in their Citigo, extensions of the warranty to four years/80,000 miles or five years/100,000 miles.