Volkswagen Up Review

By: Jonathan Hawley

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Volkswagen Up . It's not size that matters, it's all about what you do with it...

Volkswagen Up Review
Volkswagen Up


Volkswagen Up

To drive the VW Up is to understand it is a small car that's more than a sum of its parts. In terms of performance, quietness, ride quality, interior roominess and overall refinement, it is a vast step forward in the sub-light car class. You even begin to understand why VW spells "Up!" with an exclamation mark.

At 3540mm long, the Up is about half a metre shorter than a Polo, yet with a wheelbase of 2420mm, it packs plenty of interior space. The two rear seating positions have ample headroom and just enough space for longer legs, and the boot will take a suitcase or two.
Performance from the 44kW version of the Up's new three-cylinder 1.0-litre is more than adequate, despite VW's claim of a modest 0-100km/h time of 14.4 seconds. Tall gearing means there's not much grunt in fifth (the engine is barely ticking over at 2600rpm at 100km/h) but the viceless gearshift ensures that swapping cogs is more a pleasure than a chore. An optional automatic - which is actually an automated version of the five-speed manual with a single clutch rather than VW's DSG dual-clutcher - will also be offered.

The 55kW 1.0-litre Up adds more sparkle, but in either version, the main impression is that the tiny triple is quiet even when revved hard, so it's far from being a downmarket buzzbox.

Softish suspension that delivers a comfortable but controlled ride, high levels of interior fit and finish, and quality switchgear add to the impression of a car lacking only in size, not substance. There are plenty of hard plastics on the dash, the steering column is adjustable only for rake, and there's no central bin between the front seats, but they're about the only negatives in what is an open, airy, characterful cabin.

Low fuel consumption is expected of a car this size and the Up presents a beautiful set of figures in that regard. The 44kW version achieves a claimed 4.5L/100km and emits 105 grams of  CO2 per kilometre, although these figures drop to 4.2L/100km and 97g in the BlueMotion version with its stop/start system for city driving and low- rolling-resistance tyres.

Prices will start at under $15,000 when the Up lands here in 12 months time, although whether ours will be powered by the 44kW or 55kW version of the 1.0-litre triple, or if the five-door version - due for European launch in December 2012 - will be part of the range in Australia are not yet known. But standard air conditioning, power windows, electronic stability control and four airbags will all be included.

Just as the Golf and Polo deliver excellent driving experiences for little more money than their rivals, so the Up rises beyond expectations. It's a thoroughly together, even entertaining, little car. And like its Beetle ancestor, it brings quality to the masses.



Volkswagen Up


ENGINE: 999cc 3cyl, DOHC, 12v

POWER:  55kW @ 6200rpm

TORQUE:  95Nm @ 3000-4300rpm

WEIGHT: 854kg

GEARBOX:  5-speed manual

0-100km/h: 13.2sec (claimed)

TOP SPEED:  171km/h (claimed)

ON SALE:  Late 2012



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