In many senses, the Citigo-e iV is much like its petrol-powered predecessor. You still open the fuel filler cap to top up (albeit with a charging cable rather than a pump), turn a key in an ignition barrel and release a manual handbrake to set off. Owners of the outgoing car will not have to dramatically adapt their perception of driving if making the switch.
In fact, you’d be forgiven for not immediately recognising this as a new car. Despite the Citigo’s not insignificant reinvention, it retains the same wheels-in-the-corners stance and short, squat profile as its predecessor. The only real difference is the blanked-off front grille – a feature of most electric cars based on existing combustion-fuelled models – and the rev counter making way for a power usage indicator.
As with the exterior, the interior has been left largely untouched, making use of the same minimalist, almost utilitarian layout that made the previous iteration so charming. There’s an adjustable smartphone mount in place of an integrated touchscreen and smartphone connectivity compensates for features found on more premium cars. The infotainment system, operated using Volkswagen Group buttons and switches that are characteristically satisfying to twiddle, is pleasingly intuitive, if a little rudimentary.
Obviously, range will be an issue for some, and at 161 miles, the Citigo will certainly not suit all commutes. The battery will be quickly exhausted by motorway jaunts (admittedly not this car’s party trick in any sense) but we did notice that liberal use of the accelerator, even in town, could cause the car to lose 25% of its charge over as little as 20 miles.
Equally, although the Citigo’s 0-62mph time of 12.3sec is well beyond what would traditionally be considered reasonable for a conventional city car, its 81mph top speed will hardly set the world alight. But then again, this car has been so obviously conceived and designed to make life easier for urban drivers.
And indeed, that’s where this latest generation of the Citigo, more than any that have gone before, truly excels. A 9.8m turning circle gives it better low-speed manoeuvrability than almost anything this side of a moped and its narrow frame will encourage drivers to aim for parking spaces and gaps in traffic that simply wouldn’t be considered in even a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo. Its keenness to get up to speed is a boon here as well; albeit perhaps exaggerated by how little distance there is between your backside and the blacktop.
Although poise and agility are unlikely to be near the top of the list of must-haves for prospective city car buyers, the Citigo doesn’t fail to elicit a smile in tight, twisty environments. Even at sub-30mph speeds, the car’s short wheelbase and overhangs lend a real degree of engagement to the handling characteristics, while the near-200kg weight gain brought about by the underfloor batteries has done little to adversely affect its ability to take speed bumps and potholes in its stride.