Home' Motoring Plus : September 24th 2014 Contents THE NELSON MAIL Wednesday, September 24, 2014 — 11
The smallest Skoda on sale in New Zealand is the
Citigo, a direct relation to a vehicle that in 2012 was
named the world’s best car. Rob Maetzig says it is
easy to understand why
AT A GLANCE
horizontally mounted 999cc
three cylinder petrol engine,
with five-speed manual
Outputs: 55kW at 6200rpm,
95Nm at 3000-4300rpm,
0-100kmh 13.2secs, top speed
171kmh, 4.7L/100 km, 108gm/
Chassis: MacPherson strut
front suspension, semi-
independent torsion beam
setup at the rear. Electro-
mechanical power steering.
14-inch steel wheels with
165/70 R14 tyres.
Connectivity: Six-speaker CD
stereo with ‘‘funky’’ radio, on-
board computer with multi-
Safety: Front, head and thorax
airbags, City Safe braking,
stability control, traction
control. Five-star Euro NCAP
Dimensions: L 3563mm, W
1645mm, H 1478mm, W/base
2420mm, kerb weight 854kg.
Hot: Biddable little hatchback
with surprisingly good open-
road drive characteristics.
Excellent safety specification
for the price.
Not: Small dimensions mean
rear seat room and cargo space
is quite limited. Not too bad
Verdict: This is our version of
what was the best car in the
world in 2012. It’s easy to
understand why the vehicle got
Sunny Skoda: The Skoda Citigo, resplendent in its cheerful Sunflower Yellow paintwork.
Photos: ROB MAETZIG/FAIRFAX NZ
opens up to
cargo for a
car so small.
Unique nose: The Citigo is essentially the same
car as the Volkswagen Up! and the Seat Mii, but it
does have its own frontal design including the
traditional Skoda grille.
Basic interior: Citigo’s interior features a lot of
hard plastics, but the seats are upholstered in
New Zealand doesn’t get many
truly city-sized cars.
They’re the diminutive
hatchbacks that are designed for
urban use – little things that are
small and manoeuvreable enough
to zip here and there, and which
can live off the proverbial smell of
the oily rag. They are invariably
the least expensive new cars you
can buy, too.
I did a quick unofficial check to
see what’s available, and I used a
sub-$20,000 price as one of the
major qualifiers for the term city
car. Into the list from Japan went
the Suzuki Alto and Splash and
the Mitsubishi Mirage LS, from
Korea went the Kia Picanto and
the Holden Barina Spark, while
from China went the Chery J1
But nothing from Europe, huh?
Well, there is one – and it may
well rate as the best of the city car
selection. It’s a Slovakian-built
hatch appropriately called the
Skoda Citigo, a little beauty that’s
available here for $18,990 with a
five-speed manual transmission
and $19,990 with a five-speed auto.
Citigo is essentially the same
car as two other vehicles that are
built at Volkswagen Group’s
assembly plant in Bratislava, the
Volkswagen Up! and the Seat Mii.
The Up! was named World Car of
the Year in 2012, which
underlines just how good this trio
of little hatchbacks is. But neither
the VW or the Seat are sold in
this country, so the only way we
can get to experience the car on
domestic roads is with the Citigo.
But that’s OK, because all three
vehicles are exactly the same
apart from bodyshell
modifications front and rear. So
that means that via a Citigo we
can have exactly the same
enjoyment in a biddable little
three-cylinder hatch in
Wellington, that others can have
And there is a lot of enjoyment
to be had. Recently I spent a week
behind the wheel of a bright
yellow Citigo on home turf, and I
had a ball.
It’s 999cc diesel-sounding three
cylinder petrol engine happily
thrummed away as I scooted it
here and there, getting snappy
performance via a five-speed
manual transmission. The car
will accelerate to 100kmh in just
over 13 seconds which isn’t
especially quick, but the Citigo
seems to do it in such a cheerful
Ride and handling proved to be
snappy, too. I found myself
hanging on to the car’s quite
large steering wheel as I often
took advantage of its 9.8m turning
circle to zip here and there in the
urban environment. What fun!
I was also impressed with the
Citigo’s demeanour out on the
open road. In fifth gear the car is
surprisingly flexible, the engine’s
three-cylinder note helping
provide a motoring experience
more in keeping with a larger
vehicle. I felt it wouldn’t have
worried me at all driving the
Skoda on a journey of several
Citigo is a surprisingly
spacious little car that is
cheerfully appointed. As I
mentioned earlier our test vehicle
was painted a hue appealingly
known as Sunflower Yellow, and
while there’s heavy use of hard
light grey plastics inside, our
seats were upholstered in an
attractive tartan-style fabric
called Quicksilver Cloth.
There’s a reasonable amount of
minor storage including a
document holder, bag hook in the
glove compartment, and a range
of net holders. Rear seating is
compact as would be expected in
a vehicle of this size, but the
legroom is OK and little Skoda
does have five doors which makes
access to those seats easy. The
rear cargo area offers 251 litres of
space with all seats in use, and
this can be extended to 934 litres
by folding down the rear seats.
I found myself intrigued by the
mix of specification in this car.
On the face of things it could be
said to be basic in that it doesn’t
offer such items as cruise control
as standard, but it does boast a
remarkably high level of safety
specification which of all things
includes a laser-operated City
Safe Drive that, at speeds below
30kmh, detects when a low-speed
bingle is about to happen and
automatically hits the brakes.
That’s an ideal standard item for
a little urban car.
Citigo also has four airbags
including head-thorax side
airbags that protect the full
length of the driver and front
passenger. As a result, this Skoda
boasts a five-star Euro NCAP
crash safety rating.
There’s also an impressive list
of optional equipment which all
seems to be reasonably priced.
For example, a firmer-riding
sports suspension costs $350, a
‘‘rough road’’ package costs $400,
heated front seats cost $500, and
the additional safety of rear park
distance control costs $650. The
most expensive optional item is a
panoramic tilt and slide sunroof,
which costs $1800.
It’s a good idea that there’s a
decent options list, because it
helps keep the base price down
below $20,000 and leaves it up to
the buyer to decide how much
more can be spent on optional
extras. But even in its standard
form, the Skoda Citigo is a very
appealing hatch that might be
little in dimensions, but big in a
number of ways.
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