The release of the up! saw Volkswagen attempting to capture a market hitherto alien to them. Famed for high quality and with it high price, Volkswagen has struggled in the budget market. Envious of rivals like Fiat
, they have always wanted a practical, everyday compact that could be manufactured at a price that everyone can afford, much like the Panda
. However, the concept behind the up! seeks to marry this new found cost efficiency to Volkswagen's traditional reputation for innovation. Volkswagen has tried this concept before with both the Lupo and the Fox, both cheaper cars but missing most of the refinements that people have come to expect from the Volkswagen mark. This time around buyers get a proper VW, a proper city-car, solid design and a range of high quality appointments.
Bang for your buck
The original concept for the up! was complex. Determined to save space and decrease the cars footprint whilst increasing the overall cabin space, the prototype featured a rear engine akin to the original Volkswagen Beetle. A bold move, but one which would have confined the up! to the same price range as expensive rivals such as the Audi A1. Volkswagen were looking for something different and so set about miniaturising the engine, increasing the wheelbase and cutting down the overhangs to ensure their goal of increasing the cabin space was not sacrificed.
Its overall length is just 3.5 metres, about the same length as a Fiat 500. However, thanks to a 2.5 metre long wheelbase it offers far more room inside and will comfortably seat four adults. Luggage space is not quite as big as its predecessor the Fox. Nevertheless, through the nifty glass style tailgate you do get 251 litres in the boot which enlarges to 951 when the rear seats are folded.
To this new design Volkswagen added a range of modern appointments which would not be out of place on cars much further up the range. The up! can navigate using Google and brake for the driver to avoid collision. It features a light magnesium framed three spoke steering wheel, modern minimalist instrument panels and matching clean, funky speedometer and dials.
What you'll pay
The VW Up! is still in production and as such can still command close to its original sale price. Prices start at around £8,000 for a 12 reg model with average miles. The higher range models, 'Move up!' and 'High up!' currently range between £9,000 and £11,000 respectively.
What to check
It's perhaps too early to tell whether the up! has any specific faults or weak points. Considering the excellent track record of Volkswagen it would seem unlikely. Check any remaining warranty and make sure that all service schedules have been adhered to.
As the car will still be under warranty parts and servicing should not prove to be a concern. However, outside of the warranty consumables are reasonable, with brake pads at less than £40 and as little as £25 if you buy aftermarket parts. Oil and fuel filters can be bought for under £20 each.
How it drives
The approved used Volkswagen Up! promises quite a lot. The appointments are high quality and it is clear that they haven't scrimped on the design of the car. Previous incarnations of budget VW city-cars have been less than thrilling out on the road. Volkswagen engineers must have been crossing their fingers hoping that this time they had cracked it. Thankfully it would appear that they did! The up! offers a solid ride which for a 1 litre engine is quite a feat. 1 litre engine city cars can often be a little noisy, especially when put under pressure. However, not managing to completely eliminate the throaty rasp of the little power-plant, what is left is a very musical and pleasant sound. Under the bonnet the 1 litre engine has a lot of character, if not a great deal of power. At the bottom of the range power outputs are 60Ps with 95Nm of torque. This equates to a top speed of around 99mph and a sixty from standing time of around 15 seconds. For a little more money a 70Ps version is available. However, the gains in power are negligible increasing top speed to 106mph and offering to reach 60mph in 13.2 seconds.