The Volkswagen Up! is a small, spacious and economical city car that is fun to drive and more comfortable than you think.
The Volkswagen Up! is available with just one engine variant. It is a three cylinder 1.0 litre petrol engine with 75bhp mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Depending on what trim line you opt for, you can also specify a 5-speed ASG automatic transmission too. Like all three cylinder engines, the Up!’s has some character being quite vocal under acceleration but settling down to a satisfying hum on longer stretches. The manual gearbox is a pleasure to use and feels as good to use as it does in any of its Volkswagen siblings.
The Up! is surprisingly good fun to drive providing good grip, accurate steering and generally an engaging and entertaining drive. Don’t get too enthusiastic in the corners however as there is quite a bit of bodyroll from the small city car. The reason for the additional lean in the corners is to do with the suspension setup that is tuned more for comfort than performance. The Up! soaks up lumps and bumps surprisingly well and will cruise happily on the motorway too. It is quite the all-rounder.
The Volkswagen Up! is available with a choice of three trim levels to choose from. These are Take Up! Move Up! Club Up! and High Up! Standard equipment on the entry level Take Up! is good too with features like body colour bumpers, electric front windows, air-conditioning, radio with MP3, and daytime running lights. Moving up the trims and you get additional specification that includes 15 or 16 inch alloy wheels, chrome exterior trimmings, leather steering wheel and gear knob. Further options include comforts like Sat Nav with Bluetooth connectivity and park distance control.
The Up! feels like a solid small car. There is an obvious use of quality materials throughout the cabin from the dashboard to the seat trim. Build quality is the to the usual Volkswagen standard and the city car gets some individual styling treatment with a mix of body-coloured trim inset across the dashboard and top of the doors. You can even spec your cloth trimmed seats to match. It’s a nice customisable feature giving the Up! some youthful appeal. The Up! has massive competition in the City Car segment, particularly from the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, on which the Volkswagen Up! is based. Other big contenders are the Hyundai i10, the Opel Karl and Toyota Aygo, but the Up! is a perfect example of how good a small car can be.
The Up! is one of the safest cars in its class achieving the full five star rating in Euro NCAP crash testing. It comes with an impressive level of safety technology too that includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and a full set of airbags. You can even add the emergency braking system as an option that will sense potential collisions at low speeds.
The Up! is quite a clever small design as it is slightly wider than most of its rivals. This means it is possible to fit three people across the rear seat, at a small squeeze. The Up! is available in three or five door guise with the latter making access to the rear much easier. Most sized drivers will be able to find a comfortable driving position while rear passengers get ample legroom but tight headspace. However, the Up! is still a small city car and it becomes apparent this when it comes to practicality and storage space. There is a cubby located in front of the gear knob and the door pockets are large enough for storage of personal items. The boot is an acceptable 251 litres, but don’t expect to store more than your weekly shop here.