£8,995 - £12,880 Price range
64 - 68 MPG
The Up saw incremental upgrades at the start of 2016 that bring a slightly revised exterior, a modest update to the dashboard and a new 89hp turbocharged petrol engine. This last addition now forms the range-topping model and is the sportiest Up yet, although it’s likely Volkswagen will soon release a new Up GTI model. A collaboration with Beats has seen the introduction of the VW Up Beats Edition that gets a pumping stereo and special bodywork.
It’s more expensive than most of the competition, but where your money goes is clear when you get inside and realise the Up’s interior has the same quality as more expensive Volkswagen models.
Comfortably fitting two six-footers in the back of any city car is quite an achievement, but the Up manages it, thanks to its boxy shape. Its 251-litre boot is among the best in class, too.
Its small size means that the Up is exceptionally easy to drive and the small petrol engines you can choose from never sound coarse. Something that really impresses is the Up’s refinement – unlike most of its rivals, it cruises relatively quietly on the motorway.
Buyers can choose from three engines ranging from 59 to 95hp – all petrol and all cheap to run. Buyers also have the option of the electric E-Up, but it’s quite expensive – it’s nearly £25,000 in fact.
A DAB digital radio and CD player come standard on all models, but if you want air conditioning and central locking you’ll need to pay extra for the Move Up trim, which is second from bottom in the Up range.
The Up is a cheap car, so the interior isn’t going to blow you away. However, there doesn’t appear to have been any corner cutting – the materials used are of a surprisingly high quality for a car of this type. It’s a very simple interior design but we see this theme of simplicity in much more expensive cars such as the Mercedes E-Class. To jazz up the interior VW also offers some brighter colour options than the standard uniform grey.
New for the 2016 model is the introduction of a smart phone integration system called ‘Maps + More’. This system allows you to pair your phone with the car and use it to control a range of functions, from adjusting the radio to hands-free calls and, in the e-Up, check the charging status of the batteries. There’s also the option of either a 3.1- or 5.0-inch dashboard-mounted touchscreen.
Volkswagen Up passenger space
It’s worth pointing out that the Up is strictly a four-seater, and that larger adults probably won’t want to spend too long in the rear seats. That’s a criticism that’s true of all city cars, of course. Opt for a five-door model and access to the rear is much easier – perfect for a child seat.
Volkswagen Up boot space
Practicality, on the other hand, is quite impressive – there are quite a few useful storage cubbies up front, there’s decent room for the driver and passengers and the boot is, at 251 litres, one of the largest you’ll find in this class.
As you’d expect from a car with such dinky dimensions, the Up is great in towns and cities thanks to excellent all-round visibility, and the controls are all light and easy to use. But don’t go thinking it’s not as usable on the open road, as the VW is surprisingly capable outside of built up areas – there’s a fair bit of wind and road noise, but overall the critics reckon the ride is settled, and the motor has just about enough grunt to get it up to speed.
It’s also rather good fun to drive, though some do reckon a few rivals have better handling traits. A few also thought that the Up wasn’t that comfortable on rougher roads when fitted with the larger wheels and sports suspension, both of which are optional extras.
The Up’s main engine is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with either 59hp, 74hp or, for post-facelift 2016 models an 89hp version with a turbocharger. It’s a pretty good unit – though by no means the feistiest engine in the world. The new 89hp model is a perfect match for the capable Up chassis and gives it the sort of low-down grunt that’s perfect for relaxed motorway driving. The torque boost from the turbo means you won’t have to work the gears like in the 59hp model.
The 1.0-litre engine is, given the unit’s size, quite refined when you’re not thrashing it. It’s near silent at idle and has a unique thrum when going through the mid-range, but never feels rattly. It’s also pretty economical – all models return at least 60mpg on the combined cycle, and only cost up to £20 a year to tax. There’s little point going for the BlueMotion-badged models, as you’ll never recoup the extra investment in road tax or fuel savings.
Another powertrain option is the electrically-powered e-Up. The pricing is frankly ludicrous but it’s actually the quickest Up to drive, more refined than any city car you’ve ever driven and of course, the ‘fuel’ itself costs pennies. Not a likely private purchase if cost-cutting is your only goal, but could be good for businesses that only do small mileage and can both claim back the VAT, and make best use of the government’s plug-in car grant.
The 1.0 60PS - which actually has 59bhp for us non-metric types - is the entry-level Up engine.
It appears to be quite popular with the critics. Most of the reports suggest that the Up has just about enough grunt on offer to be useful in day-to-day situations, and shouldn’t cost much to run. However, it’s worth pointing out that, if you’re willing to splash out a bit, there’s a more potent 75 bhp engine on offer in the Up range as well.
Despite the weedy power output, most of the critics reckoned that the 1.0 three-cylinder motor was more than adequate for the class standard. Though you will have to wring it out to the redline in order to get it up to speed, especially on motorways, it’s fairly settled when you’re at a cruise, and is perfectly suited to life in built up areas. The tiny engine is also quite cheap to run – road tax is only £20 a year, and the claimed 62mpg means it’s quite frugal.
Overall, if you’re interested in the VW Up, this may be the model to go for – though not quite as efficient as the BlueMotion Up, it’s still almost as cheap to run, yet is a tiny bit cheaper to buy and just as well-rounded.
The normal Up is already an affordable car to run, but that didn’t stop Volkswagen working some BlueMotion magic on the new baby in the VW range. Thanks to a few tweaks to the 1.0 60 engine, the revamped Up is now more efficient than the standard model on which it’s based, yet is just as enticing and as capable as an all-round citycar. However, there is a slight price to pay for the green tech on offer…
As a result of fitting a stop/start system and low-resistance tyres, the Up BlueMotion is now the cheapest car in the range to run – the low CO2 emissions mean it’s exempt from road tax, and VW claims up to 67mpg is possible on the combined cycle.
Also, surprisingly perhaps, there don't appear to be that many compromises – the engine still seems to be as peppy and as lively as it is in the standard Up 1.0 60 engine.
There is, however, one noteworthy downside to the Bluemotion – when compared with the standard Up, this eco model looks a bit pricey for what you get, though it does cost less to buy than the flagship 75hp variant. The BlueMotion is worth considering, especially if you’re focused mainly on efficiency and running costs, but there are cheaper Ups on sale that are worthy of your attention as well.
With 74bhp (75PS), the 1.0 75 is the more powerful of the two Up engine on sale. The critics seem to be very impressed with the new Up, and a majority of them appear to be most satisfied with is the top-of-the-range model.
Though quite a few reckon the power increase isn’t that noticeable in the real world over the less powerful engine.
The 1.0 three cylinder motor is pretty much identical to the one you’ll find in the cheaper Ups, so it’s no surprise that their characteristics are similar. The engine itself is quite civilised when you’re not working it too hard, and is cheap to run, thanks to the £20 road tax fee and the claimed 60mpg. Reviews say the power plant is a joy to rev, and the extra power does usefully make it a wee bit faster.
There are some downsides to this Up model, though – quite a few critics reckon the extra power isn’t that noticeable in the real world (though many admit it feels much faster than the 13 second sprint to 60mph suggests!) and can only be specified in the top-spec ‘Move Up’ trim. That said, if you’re willing to spend a bit more on the purchase price and running costs, this may be the Up for you.
The Up is one of the safest small cars on sale, with a full five-star crash test rating from safety body Euro NCAP. It fares well for both adult and child occupant protection.
If you opt for VW’s City Emergency Braking system, low-speed shunts should become a thing of the past. At speeds between about 3mph and 20mph, the system monitors the area 10m ahead of the car for other vehicles. If the driver fails to brake for the vehicle in front, it can slam on the brakes and stops you just a few inches behind the other car.
The Volkswagen Up does, on face value at least, look like good value for money. The build quality is exceptional for a car of this price, it shouldn’t be expensive to run and most of the options aren’t too pricey – the rather clever ‘Maps + More’ system, which works as either a sat-nav, mobile phone integrator and a data readout, costs £280 and is available on all models.
However, there are some downsides. You don’t even have the option of adding air-con and electric windows to the most basic model, and the top-spec Up is only available with the 74bhp engine. Some cars from the class above which cost similar money to the most expensive Ups also offer a bit more space and practicality. And since the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii are near identical yet cost less, both could be worth a look if you want to save a few quid.
Volkswagen Up Look up!
The Look Up trim was released in 2016 to add some shine to the range. It comes with the all-important air-conditioning and electric windows as standard, but also adds some snazzy interior upholstery, more eye-catching paint colours and some nifty practical features such as split-folding rear seats and a variable height boot floor. To our eyes this is the trim to go for, the only drawback is that it comes solely with the 59hp engine.
Volkswagen Up Beats edition
The Up is a car for the young generation and this special edition is designed for anyone with a love of loud music. For this reason you can now have a seven-speaker, 300W Beats Audio stereo system fitted on the Up Beats Edition. This upgrade comes with a subtly redesigned dashboard, colour-coordinated seatbelts and a multifunction steering wheel as standard. Contrasting door mirror caps, 15-inch alloy wheels and Beats signature decals are also fitted at no extra cost.
Overall, the Volkswagen Up is a great all-round city car with plenty of appealing traits and characteristics – it’s smartly styled inside and out, built quality is impressive, there aren’t many rivals that can match it for practicality and the Up is surprisingly capable for a supermini in a variety of road types and conditions.
There are a few rivals that are cheaper and better to drive, and the Ups that are fitted with all the bells and whistles do look a bit pricey. However, there’s no denying that the diddy Volkswagen is one of the best and most distinctive small runabouts currently on sale, and is definitely worth considering if you’re in the market for such a car.