Monday, 08 August 2022

Five-door Skoda Citigo is the slicker option (for me)

THE mini-industries that have sprung up around the global car industry over the years have been

THE mini-industries that have sprung up around the global car industry over the years have been many and varied.

Only this week I was reading about new businesses that will recycle those overlarge lithium batteries from electric vehicles to provide alternative energy sources.

This involves using the batteries that retain some 80 per cent of their power as a standing energy source after they are deemed unusable in an EV (electric vehicle).

I got to thinking about this new innovation in the car industry in my usual roundabout way.

That is, I read an article on the reuse of EV batteries after hearing a chance remark from someone about this week’s drive, the Skoda Citigo.

This person came out with the worn old cliché that the Skoda name is tainted by a period in the Czech carmaker’s history when it had a definite identity problem — ie, people associated the name Skoda with a failing product.

Nothing could be further from the truth today. Skoda cars have evolved through innovation just like every other part of the worldwide car industry.

As every motoring journalist knows, new Skoda models have been a revelation.

Under the guiding umbrella of the mighty Volkswagen Group, Skoda has not looked back. The Citigo in particular is a car that surprises and pleases in equal measure: a couple of years ago I made it my car of the year.

This little city car is a buzz bomb with considerable chutzpah. Sure it has cousins in the Volkswagen stable that are probably better in overall finish (though that comes at a higher premium) but there is no doubt in my mind about the Citigo’s lasting appeal.

However driving this particular Citigo model — the Elegance 1.0-litre five-door — I was able to make up my mind about which Citigo I prefer. This is largely due to the fact the test car’s transmission was a five-speed automatic.

Now it makes great sense to have an automatic gearbox in a city car. Naturally, it cuts out all that necessary gear-changing. And with this transmission in the Citigo you get the best of both worlds: a fully automatic box and what’s called an ASG function. This ASG transmission offers a sequential selection of gears.

So the driver uses the gearstick like a regular gearbox but in a much lighter fashion without having to dip the clutch. All the driver is doing is moving the gearstick up and down to use the gear ratios.

This is all well and good because, as Skoda says, this type of gearbox is one of the lightest around. This delicacy of touch translates to the driver so you can change gear with fingertip precision.

However, I did find in fully automatic mode a slight drag between gears when the automatic gearbox selects the gears for you.

Because of this I think I prefer my Citigo with a full manual gearbox, but this may prove to be a matter of personal taste.

What really gets my vote with the Citigo is the five-door version. I think — again personally — that in these smallest of cars, five doors is a definite boon. I do not like three-door cars where to get in rear-seat passengers have to squeeze and scramble behind the front seats.

On the subject of space, the Citigo scores highly because it uses all the “wall to wall” interior space available in a clever way.

There is 251 litres of boot space — one of the largest in its class — and though visually the boot looks small it is deep enough to take a surprisingly large number of bags.

The seats are good and Skoda says they are “more than comfortable” on a long journey, while the Citigo’s small engine is plucky and willing on motorways.

But this is essentially a town car with ace parking ability, a low noise level around city streets, CO2 emissions of 105g/km (or as low as 95g/km on the Green Tech version) plus fuel economy on the combined cycle of 62.8mpg (again there is a better return with the Green Tech car).

So my revisiting of the Skoda Citigo some time down the line since it first appeared was a satisfactory experience.

For a car costing less than £12,000 this has to be a consideration on your wish list if you are looking for a city slicker.

Skoda Citigo factfile factfile

Test car: Skoda Citigo Elegance 5DR 1.0 MPI 75PS

n Price (with options fitted including VAT): £11,810

n Transmission: five-speed automatic

Options fitted:

n Convenience Pack (cruise control, trip computer, acoustic rear parking sensors) £450

n DAB digital radio, £155

n Entertainment Pack (additional four speakers, multi-media holder) £150

n Key features on Elegance models include:

n 14in Apus alloys

n Front fog lights

n Leather steering wheel

n Electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors

n Heated front seats

n PID (Portable Infotainment Device): including Bluetooth, media player, satnav, trip computer

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