Review of the new VW UP
by Syd Taylor
When big motor manufacturers start to think small, is it because they have been persuaded by Schumacher (Not Michael - the other one.) that small is beautiful or is it rather that they can’t resist chancing their arm in a profitable and growing market sector?
I raise the question because - as readers will know - Volkswagen not so long ago, decided to take a punt in the ‘starter car’ stakes with the introduction of the stimulatingly named Up!
Here is a city car with all the attributes needed for the urban ubiquity of todays modern world. It’s a small car/small engine package that delivers excellent economy of 62.8mpg combined, ‘fresh breath’ exhaust of 105 g/km and as much space as you can squeeze into a pint pot.
Of course, Isigonis was here before with the small box on wheels ‘one-at-each-corner’ concept and one has to feel that this spirit of innovation has not been taken that step further. When VW came to the starter car blocks with their 2007 Frankfurt Moto Show car - a rear engined box that had the crowd buzzing - expectations were high. Sadly, commonsense (ie money matters) prevailed over innovative design. While the present model doesn’t look wildly different, it’s very much a conformist front-engined package that follows the ‘sensible shoes’ philosophy rather than the radical.
Having said that, VW have certainly played to their strengths and invested the Up! - of which there are three three door versions: Take up! tested here and Move up! and High up! - with all the quality engineering and ergo-dynamic expertise of this legendary marque.
In other words they’ve produced a smart little vehicle that endearingly fits the template of its kind, arguing that small car customers are no less desirous of the best than customers for larger machines.
So here you have something that is just that little bit better. For instance, its ride is just that little bit more comfortable and refined: its interior space, that extra bit more accommodating. Whether you’re driving about town, travelling from town to town or simply tootling along the lanes, you’re guaranteed pleasure.
The plucky little 1.0 litre 60PS three cylinder engine (There is a75PS available) won’t, perhaps, get you to Heaven in three steps, but its smoothness makes for a soothing time behind the wheel. A smoothness achieved in the absence of balance shafts via precision engineering. So in the ‘city car’ sense one would argue - ‘you can’t do better.’
Potential buyers are to be found at both ends of the spectrum. Young buyers on the way up and on the other hand downsizing grey eminences with a sagacious appraisal of what’s really needed.
Behind the wheel all the VW virtues announce themselves. A touch of the Tardis in the way that the interior seems out of proportion to the diminuitive dimensions. Fold rear seats flat and 34cu ft is at your disposal. You don’t expect a car like this to burn the tarmac but you’ll be delighted at the smoothness and alacrity of your progress - right up to 100 mph.
A blindfolded passenger might be deceived into thinking they are in a much more expensive car than the £7,995 Take up! - such is the quality of ride and quietness of progress - while the driver will relish the nimbleness and agility of this eminently controllable little gem. For the Up! there’s only on way to go.
Certainly the Up! won’t drive you up the wall. Rather it’s just the job to drive Cinderella to the ball. Although these days, of course, one might expect a princess to do her own driving. And I can tell you, if she gets her hands on one of these the prince won’t stand a chance. She’ll be off into the sunset seeking that fabled lost highway.