Leaving aside its unusual name for a moment, this is a city car that VW has shaken the market up! with! Indeed, many in the world of motoring journalism are saying that the VW up! is a game changer in that the firm has looked at the sector and created a car to be a success. VW says the up! is going to be its biggest selling model in the world. That means VW will be selling more of the up! than the Golf which is really a bold declaration to make. Even if it has given this great car a daft name.
The German carmaker has designed this from the ground up rather than scaling down one of its bigger and better cars and in doing so has created a vehicle that has so much intelligence and great design in it that it deserves to be a success. There's just one engine which is two power outputs, 59bhp and 74bhp, from a 1 litre three cylinder petrol engine. The smaller output returns 67mpg and the larger one, 60mpg. VW says that more engines will be available at some point and the all-electric up! is a decent car but it has a limited range (usually around 90 miles which should suit most city car owners). The recharging takes more than five hours so some planning will be needed if the battery has been run-down.
Not that the buyers of the VW up! will mind since the powerplant is more than adequate for what it is needed for. It's nippy around town with a very good five speed manual gearbox though the automatic version isn't quite as smooth. The light handling also helps make it a joy to drive in urban environments and it's more than capable on long journeys, particularly on motorways, because the stability and refinements are very impressive. However, the cabin is fairly simple in its design and the dashboard matches the exterior colour. It seems spacious enough, even tall adults will not feel cramped on board, though the five door version is probably more practical.
Why not have a look at the Up! on the official Volkswagen UK company web site and get the latest news about the Volkswagen Up! in the UK at The UK Volkswagen Owners' club. You may also like to see what they're saying about the Volkswagen Up! on the Top Gear web site.
It goes without saying that with this being a VW, everything is well-built and solid and the up! performs well and there aren't any real niggles to speak of. The level of equipment is quite good and there are some interesting options, including a satnav system that clips to the dash. The VW up! is similar in size to the Fiat 500 though this car is much better and the quality of the vehicle itself impresses. It will take a lot of punishment and is good fun to drive, though there is body roll in the cars at high speed, and this is the car that every other citycar will now have to beat to get customers.
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GET ON UP!: With the up!, Volkswagen can offer small car buyers a very competitive proposition indeed. Jonathan Crouch checks it out