I’ll go out on a limb here and say that Volkswagen will break its run of city car duds with the Up.
It’s well-priced, offers plenty of space, a decent enough drive and looks the part. Super-low running costs and a decent breadth of customer choice also score in its favour. It won’t have things all its own way in this sector as the competition just gets more intense with each passing year, but it’s a very impressive turn.
At just 3.54 metres in length, 1.64 metres in width and 1.48 metres in height, the Up is one of the smallest four-seater cars citycars, measuring a full 11cm shorter than a rival Fiat Panda. Clever packaging means that interior space is maximised. The wheels are teased out to each corner, with the wheelbase of 2.42m being one of the biggest in class, combined with that compact engine and lateral radiator allowing the front bulkhead and crash structures to shift forward too. There’s decent room at the back too, with a 251-litre boot being a tad bigger than is typical in this class. Drop the rear seats and this space extends to 951 litres.
There is an argument, and it’s one that I’d subscribe to, that says that loading your Volkswagen Up with a lot of equipment is to dilute that minimalist charm. Still, Volkswagen is nothing if not a wholly inclusive company, so while it is possible to buy an entry-level car and revel in its pared back charm, you can also buy some reasonably well-appointed models. The trim walkup starts with the £7,995 Take Up which gets body-coloured bumpers, daytime running lights, front and side head/thorax airbags, a CD stereo with aux-in, rear ISOFIX points, and 14-inch steel wheels. There’s no ESP stability control on this model though. For that you’ll need the Move Up, which also sees remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front windows, easy-entry seats, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, variable-height load floor and 60:40 split/fold rear seats. Outside, the Move Up receives body-coloured door mirrors and handles.
Then there’s the Move Up BlueMotion Technology which adds a Stop/Start system to reduce urban fuel consumption by up to six per cent, battery regeneration and low rolling resistance tyres. The High Up is properly equipped with heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake grip, electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors, the Maps & More personal infotainment device and a choice of dashboard colour. It also gets front fog lights and 15-inch alloy wheels. It’s rare for a new car to be launched with special edition variants, but the Up Black and the Up White take the High Up trim and weigh in with black pearl or white metallic paint, chrome door mirror caps and door side strips, 16-inch alloy wheels with body-coloured centre sections, a body-coloured dash, special ‘stripes’ upholstery and carpet mats.
It feels like a properly grown up and rather serious little car. It also feels extremely well-judged. It’s clear that money has been spent on the bits that matter. The seats are comfortable, the control weights are just so and the cabin ergonomics just work. Other cars might go a little further in the styling department, but the Up’s appeal is that it’s not trying to trick you into liking it with gimmickry. You’ll respect the way it works. How German. How very Volkswagen.