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Added 18th January, 2013
, updated 17th May, 2019
ŠKODA's Scala claims to bring something a little different to the family hatchback class. Jonathan crouch takes a look.
So. How to sum up? Well, think about the reasons people buy small cars: ease of use, low running costs, practicality. This one seems to very effectively tick a lot of those boxes - but then the Fabia always has. In its first two generations of life though, this supermini lacked something of a spark - that 'want one' factor. Which meant that when it came to developing this MK3 model, ŠKODA knew they had to somehow build that into the design DNA.
To some extent, they've done this. A bit of extra effort's been made to personalise the car inside and out but you still won't be buying this model to make a fashion statement or to impress the neighbours - and you certainly won't buy it to corner on your door handles. Fabia customers tend to be beyond all that sort of thing. Instead, in this ŠKODA, they'll recognise a sensible, state-of-the-art supermini in every way fit for purpose in an increasingly demanding modern world.
Of course it ought to be. As part of the Volkswagen Group, ŠKODA has access to some of the finest vehicle technologies going, many of which are showcased here. The Fabia doesn't make a song and dance about this cleverness but look beneath the unassuming surface and there's a highly accomplished package that's only made more appealing by the price. True, the end result may not be the car you always dreamed of owning. It could though, very well be the one you actually need.
Some citycars sell on cute and cuddly virtues. This isn't one of them. Here instead, the urban runabout has grown up, become mature, got itself properly sorted. If that puts off the twentysomethings who'd prefer something more fashionable, then so be it. There are plenty of others in search of an urban runabout with big car virtues and small car pricing, spacious, efficient and beautifully built.
This, according to ŠKODA, is 'engineering excellence with a human touch' - a design someone's clearly thought very carefully about. True, there are feistier citycars you could consider: maybe more charismatic ones too. But none that better deliver on the promise of two words that sum this Citigo up. Simply clever.
ŠKODA's first stab at citycar motoring has proved to be an impressive one, this Citigo borrowing Volkswagen technology and blending it with the value we expect from this growing Czech brand. This improved version has smartened up its act and those in search of a beautifully conceived, affordable and impressively space and fuel-efficient urban runabout will need to consider it.
So what's different with this revised model? Well, the front section has been subtly revised, so there's a new bonnet, a redesigned radiator grille, modified bumpers and updated fog lights, all aiming to create a fresher, younger look. The interior has also been upgraded with a smarter instrument cluster and redesigned seats. Under the bonnet, things are much as before, so there are 60 and 75PS versions of the same 1.0-litre three cylinder engine, with the option of ASG auto transmission if you want it.
All the things that made the old Yeti so appealing remain with this Karoq model. It's spacious, safe, drives well, has a cool but understated image and is affordable to run. In short, what we have here is a class act in a market full of try-hard rivals and a car that strikes an appealing chord between practicality, quality and fashion.
True, some of the rivals it has to face are larger, more hi-tech or more efficient. Most of them are pricier too though and it's that very affordability that'll keep this ŠKODA in the frame for customers who want a more interesting and flexible alternative to yet another Qashqai clone in this class. It's a car that transcends lifestyle snobbery. A family car that doesn't shout 'family'. And a Crossover you could be genuinely pleased to own.
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