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Geneva show: Skoda sires five-door Citigo

High five: Citigo five-door is almost identical to its Volkswagen twin.

Five-door Citigo emerges, but more practical Skoda city-car is no certainty for Oz

31 Jan 2012

SKODA has revealed the five-door version of its all-new Citigo micro-hatch, which like the three-door is not yet confirmed for Australian release and, if sold here, may not hit local showrooms until 2014.

Like the Citigo three-door, the more practical body style is virtually identical to its Volkswagen twin, the Up - both three- and five-door derivatives of which are locked in for local release late this year, priced below the (now five-door-only) Polo from less than $15,000.

Powered by the same 44kw and 55kW 1.0-litre triple-cylinder petrol engines and wearing the same compact sheet metal, the five-door Citigo – like its identically sized three-door stablemate – differs from the Up only in its front bumper design.

The latter does away with the pint-size Volkswagen’s ‘smiley’ lower grille treatment and features Skoda’s new corporate logo for the first time.

Both versions of the Citigo will be rolled out together in Europe from May, following a global press launch next month and the five-door’s global debut at the Geneva motor show on March 6, when the Up five-door will also make its public premiere.

However, Skoda Group Australia (SGA) says there are no firm plans to add either Citigo model to the fledgling brand’s local line-up, where it would be positioned beneath the relatively new Fabia light-car range.

Currently opening at $18,990 for the 1.2-litre 77TSI five-door hatch, the Fabia arrived here last September – some four years after the second-generation Skoda hatchback was released in Europe – following extensive price negotiations.

“Citigo is under consideration for Australia,” said SGA spokesman Karl Gehling.

“Obviously we’re interested in it, but at this stage we have not got a plan to add it to our model line-up because it’s far too early to do so.’

29 center imageLeft, from top: Up three-door, Up five-door and Citigo three-door.Like the Up, the Citigo is claimed to be one of the roomiest vehicles in the A-segment, despite being one of the smallest vehicles on the road. The five-door rides on the same wheelbase as the three-door, but still offers seating for four, accessed by a two extra rear doors.

As with its VW donor model, the five-door lacks the three-door’s upswept C-pillar treatment, but comes with the same maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Already available in Skoda’s home market, the Citigo represents a key plank in the global growth strategy of VW’s Czech brand, which aims to deliver some 1.5 million vehicles annually by 2018 – the same year the Volkswagen Group plans to be the world’s number one vehicle maker.

That will be a significant jump from the 879,200 vehicles Skoda sold in 2011, when the 117-year old brand increased sales by 15 per cent to set another sales record.

As we’ve reported, Skoda plans to double its Australian sales for the second year in succession in 2012, before launching the company’s first small car – a Mazda3 competitor built on the Golf platform and rumoured to be called Rapid – in 2013.

The arrival of the Fabia and Yeti compact SUV last year marked a major turning point for the brand in the final quarter, spurring sales to about 600 units a month and helping Skoda to reach more than 3500 sales in 2011 – up 112 per cent on 2010.

A mid-range 4x4 petrol version of the Yeti, the 112 TSI, will arrive in March, followed in May by three new Fabia variations – the Fabia Monte Carlo, the hot Fabia RS powered by VW's 132TSI turbo-petrol engine and the Fabia wagon in petrol 77TSI guise.

Also in May, Skoda is planning to revive the boxy Roomster people-mover, which was discontinued in 2010.

To support the expanded model range, Skoda expanded its Australian dealer network from 22 to 35 dealers last year, and plans to add at least 10 more dealerships this year.

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