Motoring – With Liam Bird October 2012

The only way is UP!

“Noddy’s been on the phone. He was wondering when he could have his car back”.

“Couldn’t you afford the other roller-skate?” “Did someone boil-wash your Golf?”

Oh ha-ha. They’re all examples of what passes for wit apparently. And they’ve all been aimed at me during my time with Volkswagen’s latest and tiniest city car to date, the Up!


At only 11feet 7inches long the Up! is indeed small, but make no mistake, VW are taking what they claim to be their first ever A-segment car (remember the Lupo anyone?) very seriously indeed.  They know people are downsizing and they also know that no other vehicle class is set to grow as much in the coming years as that of the small city car. But despite its diminutive dimensions the Up! is so much more that just your average city run-about.

Unveiled originally as a rear-engined concept in 2007 the Up! has been through more than just a few changes to make it the car we see today. The outside may look the same but mechanically things have changed almost completely.

Now front-engined and front-wheel drive the Up! gets its power from a new generation 999cc three cylinder petrol engine mated to an all new smooth shifting five speed gearbox that even with its oil weighs only 55lbs.

Its clever engineering and attention to detail like that make the Up! feel like such a complete package.

By literally pushing the wheels of the Up! right in to its corners, not only have Volkswagen given their new baby one of the longest wheelbases in its class but they’ve made a car that looks tiny on the outside feel roomy on the inside. Four people (there’s no fifth seat belt) are easily accommodated without ever bashing elbows, and despite the high-backed seats’ initial thinly padded appearance and lack of any real side bolstering they’re actually surprisingly comfortable. They’ve avoided the temptation to offset the pedals too, so the driving position feels like that

of a much larger car. Even the boot is deep enough to swallow a couple of squishy weekend bags and a proper spare wheel.

You don’t want for standard equipment either.

All but the entry level Take Up! models get Air-con, MP3/CD player, twin airbags and speed sensitive electrically assisted steering. To which if specified,

VW’s comfort pack option adds remote locking and power windows. There’s also a flat bottomed three spoke steering wheel a la Audi R8. Shame you don’t get its perforated leather rim though.

But, should you tick the options list, for an extra £275 you can choose to have your Up! with Maps and More. Completely new for the Up! or for any VW in fact, this ingenious dash mounted device, approximately the same size as a smart-phone, acts not only as a sat-nav, media player and trip computer but also allows voice activated Blue-tooth connectivity. Plus because it’s removable you can upload your fuel figures to your home pc, teach yourself to be a more eco-friendly driver with Volkswagen’s ThinkBlue trainer, and even download further apps including everything from city guides to first aid advice. Try doing that in your Focus!

So what about the downsides? Well with the Up! they’re few and far between. 60bhp (some Ups muster 75) and a 0-62 time of 14.4 seconds does mean any overtaking manoeuvres have to be carefully planned, and hills too slow your progress. But who’s complaining? Even with my “enthusiastic” driving style I returned well over 55mpg, and let’s not forget a year’s road is only 20 quid. Plus, even with the extras, the mid-range Move-Up! retails at around £9000, the badge on the front means its residuals are rock-solid, and every Up! gets a five-star EuroN-cap rating too.

To sum up (sorry!) the Up! is brilliant. Get one, and the last laugh will be yours.

Many thanks to Volkswagen’s UK press department for the loan of the Up!

Volkwagen Move Up 1 litre 60PS

Engine:999cc, 3 cylinder, 12Valve Petrol Transmission: 5 speed manual Power: 65 bhp @

5000 – 6000rpm Torque: 70lb ft @3000 – 4300rpm 0-62 MPH: 14.4 Sec Max Speed: 99 mph

CO2:105g/km MPG: 62.8 Combined Price: £9080 / / @bird_liam

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