The Citigo and Mii are Škoda’s and Seat’s companion-pieces to the new Volkswagen Up. (Click here for a description of the V.W.) The three cars are technically identical, and are produced on the same Bratislava production-line — the same line, incidentally, as produces the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. The structure is common to all variants, and contemporary, being built largely from high-strength and, in places, form-hardened steels. The greater part of the interior is also common.
Because of the way each model is given its own unique frontal appearance, using composite front panels, it is necessary for the outer part — but not the rest — of the headlight unit design to be common to all of them. Another curiosity is that, although three different bonnet designs are used, all three designs share the same marked ‘eyebrow’ crease, rising from inboard of the headlights to the A-pillars. Because the feature runs visually into the A-pillar on each side, we assume that it was considered desirable to make it a common feature; but there may be a structural function.
Although there are a great many detail differences, none of them is particular significant — with the curious exception of the Volkswagen’s alternative rear three-quarter panel. We say ‘curious’, because although it’s not by any means ugly and serves admirably to distinguish the V.W. from the Škoda and Seat, it would seem an expensive solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. If nothing else, the Volkswagen Group’s new A-category car needs to be cheap to produce if it’s going to pay its way. This is why the original intention of building a rear-engined car was not followed up: because the drivetrain would have to be largely unique, and thus not useful in other models: it would never pay for its keep.
The Škoda Citigo will make its début in the Czech market before the end of this year, around the same time as the Volkswagen appears in Germany and the Seat in Spain. The U.K. and other European countries will start to get their cars at the beginning of 2012. Initial build will be exclusively of three-door vehicles, though five-door versions of all three derivatives will follow next year. In Britain, the Škoda will be launched in three- and five-door versions simultaneously.
We know that the Seat Mii shares the Volkswagen Up’s interior, barring trim and a few details. We have not yet seen the interior of a Citigo, but it is extremely unlikely that there will be any significant difference between the Latino-Czech and the other two. Interior styling is conservative to say the least, to the extent that the new car looks like a throwback to the 1970s in all the wrong ways. Slovak build quality may be very good, and older buyers may well feel reassured by the sobriety of it all, but with Fiat, Renault and PSA designing some very stylish interiors, young customers are unlikely to be overwhelmed by this threesome.
What we do know about the Citigo’s interior is that its front headrests integrated into the seats. There are numerous storage compartments and cup holders of course, as well as storage pockets on the sides of the front seats. A bag hook integrated into the glovebox handle, and a photograph holder on the central console, are two interesting interior details.
A portable navigation system is available. The device is fitted to the dashboard and can be removed easily and used on the go. Being integrated with the car’s onboard electronics, the system provides hands-free calling with built-in Bluetooth and onboard infotainment. Using a 13cm touch screen, the driver can view important information about the car — from the onboard computer, optical signals from the parking sensors and so on.
For the first time in a Škoda, a head-thorax side airbag is fitted in both front seat positions. A new brake assistance system which Škoda calls City Safe Drive (to Seat it’s City Safety Assist) is available as an optional extra. This system is based on a laser sensor that triggers the brakes automatically at speeds below 30km/h if there is danger of a collision. Depending on the speed and the traffic situation, this automatic braking solution may completely prevent a collision or at least reduce its severity.
Two new, three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engines will be available from launch, offering 60PS or 75PS. Both feature thermal management that restricts coolant flow to the block and head alone during the warm-up phase, so operating temperature is reached quickly. Fuel economy is not at diesel levels, but it’s not bad, and overall running-costs should be low.
Seat indends to offer a CNG-powered version in mainland Europe, and the option of an automated gearbox everywhere; the latter uses two electric motors to carry out gearchanges. Volkswagen is looking into building an electric Up at some point. Škoda hasn’t said much about its future plans for the Citigo so far, but we know the Company has built up some expertise into electric drivetrains over the last few years in collaboration with specialists including Schaeffler.
Although we don’t have engine outputs for the CNG Seat, it has apparently managed an NEDC overall CO2 figure of 86g/km.