Volkswagen’s Up! may be the smallest model in the range, but it’s as comfortable, reliable and accomplished as any model bearing the famous VW roundel. A compact engine and transmission together with a wheel-at-each-corner design frees up a deceptive amount of space within a car you can park just about anywhere. And even at the entry level, you’ll find an impressive range of features. It’s a city-friendly car that’s refined and comfortable enough to take on a long road trip.
Whatever model of Up! You drive, you’ve made a safe choice. The full range features electronic stability control as well as front and side airbags. LED daylight running lights and turn indicators integrated into the door mirrors get you noticed in crowded streets. As a result, the Up! has earned itself a top EuroNCAP five-star safety rating – an excellent achievement for a small car.
Other small city cars may have taken the retro route, but the Up! doesn’t jump on that bandwagon. Instead, it’s a clean, smart and highly contemporary design with a lot of space within its city-friendly 3.54m overall length. The interior is appealing and well put together, with a big-car ambience that puts many rivals to shame and a fully-glazed rear tailgate for a light and airy ambience. Inside or out, there’s plenty of scope for individuality, with a wide choice of dash finishes, paint and even roof colour. The Up! Is available in three and five door versions, and there’s genuine space in the rear for two adults. Alternatively, the rear seats split to allow longer loads to be carried.
For a three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine, the Up! drivetrain packs a rewarding punch. The Take up! and Move up! models come with a 59bhp engine and a choice of five-speed manual or automatic ASG transmission. Choose the higher-spec High up! and Up Beats! models and you can opt for 74bhp or a turbocharged 89bhp, in which form 0-62mph takes just 9.9 seconds. Many Up! buyers will be equally interested in CO2 emissions and fuel economy; here the 59bhp and 74bhp BlueMotion models take top honours with 68.9mpg and emissions of 96 g/km. Alternatively, the all-electric e-Up! produces no emissions and consumes no fuel other than its electric charge.
The new generation of three-cylinder motors is both compact and efficient, and Volkswagen engineers have freed up more interior space by locating the cooling system alongside the engine rather than in front of it. Depending on the model and options, your Up! can be as connected as the busiest lifestyle requires. Take Up! models feature DAB radio/CD player and central locking, while models from Move Up onwards benefit from a 5.0” infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, plus air-conditioning. As the name implies, the Up Beats! majors on sound quality, with a 300-watt Beats Audio eight-channel amplifier, Digital Signal Processor (DSP) and seven high-end speakers including subwoofer.
Verdict: The Up! isn’t trying to recreate the swinging sixties or set a Nürburgring lap record and it’s all the better for it. It’s a classic Volkswagen formula; clean, timeless modern design with exemplary build quality, comfort and safety. Its characterful three-cylinder engine, light weight and supple ride will endear themselves to you. A small car that’s a grown-up choice.
Great value and highly fuel-efficient 59bhp drivetrain, within a sleek, smart and deceptively spacious body. For those who know that sometimes less can be more.
Extra features including air conditioning make this an ideal choice if you spend lots of time behind the wheel – and with today’s traffic, who doesn’t?
Choose the smart High up! for exec-class features like real-time connectivity and smartphone integrated satellite navigation, smart alloy wheels and a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel.
Volkswagen partnered with Dr Dre to create a sound system that would put some clubs to shame. Red trim highlights, alloy-wheels with red or black wheel centres and ambient interior lighting make this a real head-turner.
The future’s electric – and with its 99-mile range the lively, agile e-Up! delivers low-cost, zero emissions motoring right here and now.