Volkswagen Up What is it? VW’s all-new city car set to hit the Koreans hard Price from £8000-£12,000 (est) On sale January 2012 MPG 65.6-67.3 CO2 97-108g/km
REMEMBER THE VOLKSWAGEN Up concept car? It wowed everyone at the Frankfurt motor show more than four years ago and previewed the company’s idea of a budget city car. It was rear-engined, rear-wheel drive and set to have a seriously low £4000 price. Subsequent concept models hinted at an MPV and an electrically powered version.
Scroll forward and we’ve just driven the final production car. Plenty has changed in the process, not least because it’s now a lot more conventional: it’s front-engined and front-drive like rivals such as the Hyundai i10 and forthcoming new Fiat Panda (see page 41). It’s also got larger dimensions and a price to match.
The new Up is an all-new car from the ground up. It sits on
BEHIND THE WHEEL Well positioned, chunky controls; removable touch-screen
22 | NOVEMBER 2011 whatcar.com ‘Quality is a notch or two above the class norm’
The Up’s plastics are cheaper than the Polo’s, but the overall effect is impressive for a city car a new platform and at first will be sold with two new three-cylinder petrol engines – one with 59bhp, the other 74bhp. Both have a five-speed manual gearbox, with an optional dual-clutch semi-auto becoming available soon after the car goes on sale in January.
How does it drive? We’ve driven the 74bhp car with a five-speed manual ’box. It’s not especially fast and, at times, not whisper-quiet. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty appealing. It has a supple ride that mops up most road imperfections and it’s agile, accurate and effortless to drive. Plenty of this is down to the car’s compactness, but the light yet direct steering plays a part, as does the snappy gearchange.
The new three-cylinder engine is also interesting. Its small vibrations are noticeable at low revs, but it’s free-revving and perky. It sounds good, too, if you’re prepared to hang on to the revs to build up speed, and it’s capable of cruising well at motorway speeds, even if it’s not that vigorous an overtaking tool. Downsides are that a mite too much wind noise creeps into the cabin at high speeds, and rivals such as the Hyundai i10 feel sharper. Even so, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be had keeping it on the boil through bends. When you’re not in the mood, you can just make discreet, relaxed progress in a manner that belies the Up’s size, performance and power.
What’s it like inside? The cabin is simple and uncomplicated, but this is no criticism. All the major controls are sited high up and are of the no-nonsense, chunky variety, as you’d expect from a VW.
It’s pretty attractive to look at, too, especially in one of the lighter trim colours. It isn’t as well made as a Polo, though. There’s far more evidence of cost-cutting, with cheaper, shinier plastics and front seats that don’t return to their original position when you slide them. There isn’t even a cover for the vanity mirror. That said, the overall quality is still a notch or two above the class norm.
The Up’s other engines
There won’t be an Up diesel for some time to come, and two- and four-cylinder versions are in the pipeline. First, though, VW is going to start selling a model powered by CNG (compressed natural gas). The company is still undecided whether to bring it to the UK, simply because of the shortage of CNG stations. There’s also a full electric version being developed. It will be launched in 2013 and VW bosses are promising a low price and a 100-mile range.
All versions get comfort more or less right. The four seats are firm but well contoured. It’s possible to get a good driving position, too, although the pedals in our left-hand-drive test car were a little offset to the right, so we hope that’ll be sorted when the wheel swaps sides.
The boot is one of the biggest in the class, and with the rear seats flipped forward it can take more luggage than some cars from the class above. It’s also got the novelty of a removable boot floor panel, allowing you to choose between a totally flat floor or a deeper well to squeeze in more luggage.
Rear passengers don’t get treated any worse than in other city cars: the seat tilts and slides, kneeroom is on a par with rivals’, there’s adequate headroom, great shoulder space and good visibility.
Verdict The Up is now the plushest, best-looking, roomiest and says...
New city car is one of the best probably the most chic city car in the market, but this needs to be balanced against value. Even with a predicted starting price of £8000, it won’t be the best value of the breed, and the more powerful version with some extra kit will probably be uncomfortably close to five figures.
The upshot is that VW has now re-entered the city car market with one of the leading models. We reckon it’s going to give the Koreans a tough time, and if it’s sensibly priced it has the talents to be the best in the class.
ON THE ROAD Ride and handling are impressive in town and at speed
Chas Hallett Chas.Hallett@whatcar.com
‘Even with a predicted £8k price, it won’t be the best value of the breed’
BUYER’S FILE Engine size 1.0
CO2 g/km/tax 97/10% 108/10%
INSURANCE GROUP tbc AIRBAGS 4 DOORS 3 SEATS 4 COLOURS 8 TARGET PRICE tbc Demand will be strong at first, so give it a few months before haggling hard OR TRY A .. . Hyundai i10 Toyota Aygo
For more information
Volkswagen Up on whatcar.com
The instruments are clear and if you go for the top-spec model – or are prepared to pay extra for it – you get a removable touch-screen sat-nav and infotainment system that pops out of the top of the dash. In time, you’ll also be able to upgrade this Maps+More system with downloadable apps. DESIGN Volkswagen abandoned the concept car’s rear-engine layout in favour of a more traditional set-up whatcar.com NOVEMBER 2011 |