What is the Volkswagen Up!?
A car for the city limits — and beyond. The pint-size Up! is Volkswagen’s rival to the Fiat 500, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i20 and Toyota Aygo. It shares many of its ingredients with the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii; of the trio the VW is the most stylish. Prices start at £8,265 for the most basic Take Up! 1.0 model. A better bet is the £9,785 Move Up! 1.0 BlueMotion, as it comes with more equipment (such as central locking, electrically adjusted door mirrors and stability control) and is more frugal, which means exemption from road tax and the London congestion charge.
You have the choice of three-door and five-door body styles. If passengers will be bundling into the back, avoid the three-door, as the front seats don’t feature a memory-return tilt-and-slide operation and have to be slid to the rearmost position on their runners before they can be reset manually, meaning those in the back are treated to squashed legs.
The Up! works well as a city car. For starters, it is easy to see out of, thanks to a large and deep glass area, although during parking the steeply raked bonnet is out of sight, and the short tailgate is easy to open even when you’ve had to park tightly against other cars. Its city-friendly credentials continue on the move. The steering is light but direct, the three-cylinder engine likes to be revved hard (even if it is a little vocal in the cabin) and the gearchange is easy and precise. Spot a gap in the traffic and there’s enough power on tap to bag it, and once you escape the city limits the noisy engine settles down to a distant hum at main road and motorway speeds.
The suspension is supple around town, but at higher speeds and across country the car’s short wheelbase can make it bob up and down in a jarring fashion. There isn’t a great deal of fun to be had from driving it quickly cross-country — far better to relax, unwind and save some fuel while making use of the optional (£290) Navigon touchscreen infotainment system, which features a trip computer, navigation, audio and phone integration.
Because there’s a lot of exposed painted metal throughout the cabin, the interior is strongly affected by colour choice. For example, white paint with black fittings looks cheap, but red paint with crème fittings looks funky. It’s not as stylish as a Fiat 500, but not far off. Those sitting in the front of an Up! have enough room to swing a good-sized cat. The driving position is comfortable, and there’s a wide range of adjustment for the seat, although the steering wheel adjusts only for height, not reach.
In the back, space is acceptable for adults if it’s a short run to a local restaurant for dinner, but try piling in a couple of friends for a road trip to the Edinburgh festival and they won’t find it a laughing matter. Still, the boot is surprisingly accommodating — 251 litres of luggage capacity — mainly because it’s so deep, and there’s even space for a full-size spare wheel under the floor, although a puncture repair and inflation kit is typically offered.
The one to buy
VW Move Up! 1.0 BlueMotion
- 999cc, 3 cylinders
- 59bhp @ 5000rpm
- 70 lb ft @ 3000rpm
- 5-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 14.4sec
- Top Speed:
- 68.9mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 3540mm, W 1645mm, H 1489mm