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Skoda's cutesy Citigo goes electric with a budget price point and the promise of ultra-low running costs. Does it have the range of talents to succeed?
Air conditioning, split rear seats, electric front windows, remote central locking
SE, SE L
Given the growing concerns surrounding air pollution it is just a question of time before legislation puts an end to the sights and sounds of fossil-fuelled vehicles in our city centres.
That doesn't mean we will all have to rush out and buy hair shirts or sign up to a band of eco-fundamentalists, however. Not as long as cars like the Skoda's Citigo-E IV exist.
The all-electric version of the Citigo may be tailpipe-emissions-free, but it still offers a fun-to-drive character, park anywhere dimensions and the compelling bonus of highly affordable running costs.
What is more, with a starting price of just £16,995 after the £3,500 government grant has been deducted, it effectively puts paid to any lingering criticisms that electric mobility is predominately the domain of champagne socialists.
There is a slight catch in that headline figure, however, because the entry-level SE model does not come with a rapid charging facility. Therefore, although you can replenish the battery from a domestic 7kW wall box in around four hours, you cannot reinvigorate it from a typical service station fast charger, which would typically do the job in an hour.
You can add the quick-charge facility for around £900, or pay an extra £2.5K and step up to SE L trim, which also adds some additional bling, including alloy wheels, parking sensors and heated seats.
With relatively cheap electricity rates set to continue for the foreseeable future, the price of running an electric vehicle is likely to remain as peanuts compared with a fossil-fuelled car and because the Citigo's WLTP range potential is 161 miles, it will qualify for the most favourable taxation category in the upcoming 2020-21 tax regime, which will see BIK levied at 0%.
Fun to drive
The Citigo may have ditched its squeeze-bang power plant in favour of an electric motor (you can no longer buy a petrol-powered Citigo), but that doesn't mean Skoda's baby is any less fun to drive.
Yes, the additional mass of the battery pack adds 250kg, which is an awful lot in such a small car, but because the 82hp electric motor delivers its power the instant you press the accelerator, the performance is pretty invigorating, albeit up to a rather modest 45mph.
Realistically, that's probably all the zip you need when scooting around town, but beyond this point the acceleration does plateau and top speed is limited to just 80mph.
The motor has three drive modes. Normal is for everyday use and delivers full power, while Eco limits matters should you wish to squeeze more miles out of the battery. Eco+ will help out when your range is getting sketchy by limiting the power output and closing down the air conditioning.
You can also adjust the severity of the regenerative charging/braking to add to your range, and in its most intense mode the braking effect is so strong you may be able to complete certain journeys without resorting to the brake pedal.
The Citigo's dashboard is about as complicated as a knife and fork, with a couple of bold dials, a handful of switches and a cradle for your phone.
This 'less is more' theme continues with a steering wheel that is only adjustable for height, and front seats that have rather awkward inboard backrest adjusters. However, once set the driving position is pretty much spot on, and because the Citigo is so short and its glass area is so large, it is difficult to think of an easier car to drive.
Because the additional battery mass is carried deep in the Citigo's bowels, there is negligible impact on agility, while the light, accurate steering and compact dimensions mean it is easy-peasy to zip in and out of city traffic.
For a car with such a short wheelbase the Citigo is impressively comfortable, thanks to suspension that is expertly tuned to deal with all manner of city crud and craters.
It is also pleasingly pacified, especially considering there is no combustion clatter to mask the noises made by the tyres, wipers and heater fan. Yes, these elements are a slightly more noticeable than normal, but with minimal electric motor whirr or discernable wind noise, things are pretty tranquil overall.
Skoda Citigo-e iV SE L
Residual value: TBC
Service, maintenance and repair: TBC
Cost per mile: TBC
Range: 161 miles
CO2 (BIK band): 0g/km (16%)
BIK 20/40% a month: £61/£122
Boot space: 250 litres
Engine size/power: 3.6kW battery/ 82hp electric motor