Volkswagen Up! road test
Ecellent ride and handling. But the driver’s sun visor mirror really needs a cover…
What is it?
The Up! is Volkswagen’s city car, built in Bratislava, Slovakia and designed with the town driver in mind. Take it outside the city limits and it will manage, but it does become hard work if you spend too long on the motorway.
How safe is it?
The Up! scored very well in Euro NCAP safety testing, leading to a five-star rating. All versions come equipped with driver and passenger airbags, seatbelt reminders and Isofix child seat attachments. The City Emergency Braking System is a clever optional extra priced at £375. Automatically activated at speeds under 18mph, it uses a laser sensor to detect the risk of an impending collision and automatically primes the brakes to make them more sensitive. ESP stability control is standard except on entry level Take Up! models.
Our range-topping High-Up! version also included hill hold, hydraulic brake assist, electronic differential lock and side head/thorax airbags for driver and front seat passenger.
Who should buy one?
If you drive a low annual mileage, mostly alone, and are looking for something small and economical, then the Up! is a great choice that may also put a smile on your face.
Road test by James Luckhurst 6 December 2016
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The Up! is at its happiest on busy streets, where it can nip in and out of tight parking spaces, and turn on a sixpence. Choose from three different versions of the 1.0-litre petrol engine (59, 74 and 89bhp). Our test week required clocking up a lot of miles – more than we would recommend for this type of car in a typical week. Those miles included lots of motorway, dual carriageway and bumpy country lanes, where we would have expected the journey to become tiring and uncomfortable. But honestly it barely did, which is testament to the excellent ride quality and light handling characteristics, something that doesn’t just happen by chance. Top marks to VW for this.
By the way, we did manage a few city miles in it, venturing as far as a shopping mall in Merthyr Tydfil, where someone wishing to combine mischief with restraint obligingly wrote ‘Shut’ in the dirt above the ‘Up!’ name on the tailgate.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
This is a small car, so don’t expect acres of room for people and cargo. However, legroom in the front is adequate. Bear in mind that this is only a four-seater (whether you opt for the three-door or – as we tested – the five-door version). We came a cropper with this, as we made ready to take our boys and their friend to a sports fixture. No middle seat in the back.
Boot space is good but not class-leading (the Hyundai i10 offers 100 more litres with its rear seats folded). Our version offered split-folding 60:40 rear seats (this is standard except in the entry level model).
The dashboard and display screen are small in size, as is the range of buttons surrounding it. Entertainment-wise, there’s a five-inch colour screen DAB radio system that comes as standard on the High-Up! models. Go for the entry-level or mid-range version and you have a straightforward DAB radio with CD. One gripe we had was the driver sun visor, which we couldn’t use because there was a mirror built in, but no cover. So the driver’s choice was to be blinded by low sun or to stare at various reflections of oneself in the sun visor mirror, depending on the angle set. Some owners have overcome this by cutting and sticking paper covers over the offending mirror. Quite why VW couldn’t do that is a mystery.
The range begins with the 1.0-litre Take-Up! 59bhp model costing £8,975. Running costs will be low, thanks to the engine stop-start function (and low-rolling-resistance tyres). The top-end model costs £12,880.
Excellent ride and handling… but no cover for the driver’s sun visor mirror!
AT A GLANCE:
Price: £12,980 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 13.5 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group TBA
Tax: Band A (£0)
Figures for High-Up! 1.0-litre BMT 75 PS 5spd manual 5dr