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Why Skoda Citigo could be the car of your dreams.

Byline: Ian Donaldson newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

IF you admit to playing "fantasy garage" amid thoughts of a giant Lottery win, then here's a contender to park among the Ferraris and Bentleys of your dreams.

Yes, seriously, the little car from Skoda has just given me some of my most blissful miles of motoring for months. Easily good enough for us to develop a deep emotional bond.

For sure, you'll need the exact same conditions as me to push your Citigo into contention with Ferrari's finest at 20 times the price, but if it happened for me...

To reach this state of motoring grace you'll need your own Citigo to come equipped with a couple of extras. Then too, you won't need to be in a hurry. Oh, and the sun needs to be shining.

But first, let's examine the Citigo's basics. It's the same car beneath the Skoda badge as Volkswagen's Up! and the Seat Mii, although the Skoda version on test costs PS415 less than the nearest equivalent Seat and is an even more useful PS520 less than the most comparable VW.

All of them are built in Slovakia and are a rather more mature and sober approach to minimal motoring than you'll find in the peppier products from rivals like Fiat and Renault, both of them building machines with deliberate small car verve.

If you like your cars - however small - to reflect big car values, you'll love the Citigo and its siblings with different surnames. They feel like big cars that have shrunk in the wash, with solid controls and practical, hard wearing surfaces.

There's as much room inside as you could possibly squeeze into a car that leaves so much to spare in a supermarket parking space you could picnic in the sunshine before setting off for home.

The boot is narrow front to rear but deeper than you'd expect and plenty big enough for a weekly shop; a temporary spare wheel is a PS190 option instead of a bottle of gloop and it fits it an inviting well, ready and waiting beneath the boot floor.

Every one of the VW Group clones comes with the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in two states of tune; the less powerful one proving perfectly adequate in previous drives. The loss of 15 horses saves PS390 over the beefier unit, which in any case is only available in top spec Elegance models of the Citigo.

This car, the dearest Citigo you can buy apart from the five-door model for another PS350, came with the more powerful engine, bolted to an automatic gearbox that rather defines the way the car drives.

It's very light for an automatic and not an expensive upgrade either (plus PS305) but it's less a full automatic than a normal manual gearbox that works the clutch for you. The downside of a relaxed left leg is a gearchange that'll set your head bobbing on swift changes and had my passenger complaining of unpleasant jerkiness (the car, not the driver, I hope).

My cure was to relax and let the much smoother, slower changes take their time. It helped that the sun was shining and the extra PS650 worth of glass, electrically operated sunroof was wide open, letting me enjoy a gentle breeze while pull-across netting kept out the glare.

No need to hurry. On days like this, who needs a Ferrari? Or a Lottery win.

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Skoda Citigo Elegance 1.0 MPI

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 15, 2014
Words:578
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