Car costs: every penny counts

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THE backroom boys who decide how much their company can charge for a car must have burned the midnight oil with the newest Skoda.

The Citigo is the latest model in a line-up that last year appealed to more buyers across the world (and here in the UK) than ever and is expanding further with this new mid-size hatchback.

So, the pricing team must have been getting something right, along with the people who design and engineer the cars.

With the Citigo they were faced with a problem; their new baby is pretty much identical in looks to the new Volkswagen Up (and Seat’s Mii, for that matter).

It doesn’t take a marketing genius to fathom that Skoda, however much the brand is loved by owners (and it is, in spades) simply can’t charge as much as VW can for the same car with a different badge.

Which ought to make the Skoda versions of the VW Group’s new little car a bargain... and it does.

You won’t save a fortune by choosing the Skoda, but every penny counts.

You can get into (as they say) a Citigo for £7,630, while the cheapest Up is £7,995.

That’s enough difference to pay for the first year’s insurance on the Skoda, at least for older buyers looking to downsize to something more suburban-friendly.

And don’t forget that Skoda owners regularly top the polls as most satisfied with their purchase.

But what about the Citigo, you ask? Well, it ranks with the Up as the most grown-up little car I’ve driven. It really does feel as though the designers took a bigger car and drew out some air, to shrink it.

They took care to leave room for adults in the back and build in a boot that’s deeper than you might expect in a car this tiddly.

There are two engines on offer, or rather the same engaging three-cylinder unit with the choice of two power outputs. The less energetic one is fine in town, and passable on the open road.

But you do notice the difference when you put your foot down to pass, making the £390 price hike worth the extra cash.

The Elegance trim level on the test car included alloy wheels, sat nav and info system, electrically-adjusted door mirrors and even heated front seats.

There are lots of option packs to tempt you, from an ashtray at £40 (!) to a £300 safety system that brakes the car at low speed if it senses an imminent collision.

It felt odd on test (aiming at a polystyrene block) but it worked!