The Volkswagen Up is more sophisticated than its size and looks suggest. It`s comfortable, feels stable on the road and is enjoyable to drive. It`s designed to work in town, but it`s not overwhelmed or underpowered for the occasional motorway trip, although the long gearing does make it hard work.
The changes VW made to the Up for 2016 created a classier and more customisable car, while the switch to a smartphone sat-nav system will appeal to younger buyers. It`s as refined and practical as ever, but the updates to the gearbox have resulted in sluggish performance with no real gains in efficiency. Higher list prices mean the VW Up isn`t quite as good value as its SEAT and Skoda siblings.
Volkswagen up! 1.0 75 High up!
The smallest and cheapest new Volkswagen on sale is the up! city car. While it`s compact in size and costs less than other VWs, it hasn`t scrimped on the kind of quality that VW is famous for. What`s more, an update in 2016 kept it at the front of the city car class.
Originally launched in 2012, the slightly daft name with the exclamation mark is a play on the name of VW`s last city car, the Lupo. But while that car was a development of the Polo supermini, the up! uses its own platform that`s shared with the virtually identical SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo. The Up was launched slightly ahead of these two cars, while prices, which start from around £9,500, are marginally higher, too. Like the Skoda and SEAT, there are three and five-door variants on offer, the latter costing around £400 extra.
Engines are shared with the Citigo and Mii, so there`s a 1.0-litre 3cyl petrol in 60PS and 75PS guises with 59bhp and 74bhp respectively. The exception is VW`s 1.0 TSI three-cylinder turbo petrol, which is exclusive to the Up. This can be had with 89bhp in the standard Up, while the Up GTI has a 113bhp version of the TSI unit.
All cars get a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, except for the up! GTI, which has a six-speed box. An ASG auto is offered on selected versions of the 60PS and 75PS engines. Diesel engines aren`t offered, so if you want lower running costs than a petrol engine can offer, there`s the pure electric VW e-up!. With a list price of around £25,000 you`ll need to run it for a while to return similar lifetime running costs to the petrol models.