Not only the name is a stroke of genius: Volkwagen has succeeded in putting on the road a true quality car which will steal the heart of many. It certainly won ours, with its cute looks, its very good ride, its responsive engine, its very pleasing controls. And its aura and feel of quality, where it sets (new)standards in its class…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
We were anxious to drive this new baby from Volkswagen, and opening the very wide doors, we were surprised to see and feel so much roominess, enhanced by the light and airy interior finish. It certainly feels like a “big” VW.
Reminiscent of the “Ur”Beetle, the dashboard and door sides are painted in the exterior colour of the car. Is it meant to be the replacement of the original iconic Beetle? Personally, I am tempted to think so. The material of the controls is no nonsense, businesslike, meant for years of use. You touch the wheel or the controls, and you feel perfection.
You are immediately confident about this car. You have the impression that this machine will never, never let you down, and last forever. The clear round dials just smile at you. Just like the Beetle. Only you have already a rev counter, which the Beetle owner could only dream of.
Turning the key brings the 60 PS 999cc three cylinder engine to life, which has the distinct purring sound of three cylinders, which remind you a bit of a six, and we love the sound. No vibrations are coming from the engine, the gearchange is super slick, like the original Beetles and Porsches.
We drive off. The clutch engages sweetly, the car gains speed through the gears. Beautifully willing, this engine feels lively and makes the Up! get really swiftly up its feet. 0 to 100 is reached in 14.4 seconds, but it is the liveliness up to say 80 km which make the Up! a nimble city car.
All round compact car
But a good city car has also to stand on its own on the motorway and open road. The suspension is quite comfortable, the front seat room is just great, so long trips are a breeze in this cute hatchback.
What’s more, the long legged 5th gear makes high speed “Autobahn” cruising an effortless affair, like any good German car should, as it is meant to be “Autobahnfest”, as they say in that country. So keeping the pace of traffic at some 120-130 kph is very easy in the up! and the car will cruise even faster for hours on end.
Wind and road noise are very well filtered, and the Up! is on the top of its class in this respect.
Surprising is indeed the high degree of comfort one enjoys in the Up! Potholes and irregular road surfaces are well ironed out, and as said, the car feels and handles here like a “big” VW.
The car’s handling and roadholding are very good indeed, although the Up! does not inspire to be thrown about, but when you are in a hurry, its is nice to experience that the car has very little roll. The steering is beautifully light and precise, a bit insensitive for some, but we liked it.
Of course the up! inspires you with its very willing engine and slick gearbox to a dynamic driving style, and then city consumption might rise a bit more than you would expect. You just have to re-consider your driving style.
Because the modern engine of the up! can do just so much more than rev and growl pleasantly. It will also take up power at very low revs, and this silent and completely vibration free. Just obey the gearchange indications, and float with the traffic. Not only is this much more relaxed, but consumption drops dramatically. It is indeed possible to negotiate city traffic with consumption hovering around the 5 litre mark. There is just so much this little car can do…
The base level equipment includes body coloured bumpers, daytime running lights, front and side head/thorax airbags, radio with aux-in, rear ISOFIX points, and 14-inch steel wheels.
Our test car had the next level of equipment, which adds remote central locking, aircon, electric front windows, easy entry seats, (they return to set position after folding), height-adjustable driver’s seat, variable-height load floor, 60/40 split/fold rear seats and body coloured door handles and mirrors.
The boot has 251 litres of load space and when the seats are folded this expands to 951 litres of load space . You can choose the up! in either a three-door or a five-door bodystyle.
The up! achieved the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash testing. It comes with a good level of safety equipment that includes front and side head/thorax airbags.
A system called City Emergency Braking system is available as part of the optional driver's assistance pack. This kit works at speeds of less than 18mph and uses a laser to detect the risk of an impending collision and can apply braking automatically.
Looking for a premium city car with timeless looks which is always a pleasure to drive? Then the up! is certainly a car which comes right up your sleeve…
We will soon test the more powerful 75 PS version of the car, and report you how the car feels with this improved performance…
Hans Knol ten Bensel