The Volkswagen up! is a high-quality, city car of near identical design to the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo, yet sharing the same quality feel as larger Volkswagen models. That means simple yet charismatic design with class leading levels of comfort, convenience and quality. It can also boast having the largest boot in its class and a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Built in Bratislava, Slovakia, the up! came to market at just the right time to meet the European growth in city cars. According to Volkwagen, the up! is aimed at younger drivers, families who need a second car and older motorists with an active lifestyle.

At 3,540 mm in length, 1,641 mm in width and 1,489 mm in height, the up! is one of the smallest four-seater cars on the market and is available in three and five-door bodystyles.

Powering the up! is a new generation of three-cylinder petrol engines, with outputs of 60 and 75 PS. Combined fuel consumption for the 60 PS BlueMotion Technology model is 68.9 mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 95 g/km; even the more powerful 75 PS unit stays under the 100 g barrier with just 98 g/km.

A BlueMotion (economy) version is also offered, which features low rolling resistance tyres and start-stop technology to boost mpg and reduce emissions. A full electrically powered e-up! is available too, but this model commands a significant premium over conventionally powered models.

Three versions are available: Take up!, Move up! and High up!. All are competitively priced and offer a high level of standard equipment. Two special edition models – the street up! and club up! are also available. These are based on the flagship High up! trim, but come with more styling features.

All models have a raft of safety features including ABS and four airbags, while all except Take up! also have standard ESP. The more expensive High up! version (tested here) also comes with air conditioning, split folding rear seats, 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, heated front seats and Infotainment Device (PID).Taking the shape of a touch-screen portable sat-nav mounted atop the dashboard, this easy-to-use removable system features bluetooth, satellite navigation and trip data functionality.

An important new safety technology in the up! is the optional award-winning City Emergency Braking system, which at speeds of under 19 mph detects the risk of an impending collision and can reduce accident severity by initiating automatic brake interventions that can even avoid a crash.

For a city car the up!’s cabin is spacious; with plenty of headroom front and rear – although taller rear seat passengers will be short on legroom unless the front chairs are brought forwards. A comfortable driving position is aided by a height adjustable steering wheel and the dashboard controls are logically laid out and fall easy to hand.

The baby VW’s boxy dimensions and generous glass area also combine to give good visibility, meaning parking and low speed manoeuvring is a doddle.

The interior impresses with its quality and in no way feels the poor relation to other Volkswagen models. Materials have a quality feel and feature the use of soft-touch plastics. Seat fabrics also look like they’ll stand up to the wear and tear of everyday life.

Tested here is the 75 PS engine which although far from fast, is more eager and has greater flexibility than the lesser powered version - especially at motorway speeds, while around town it feels pleasantly lively. It’s a spirited little engine that eggs you on to make full use of its power, with an intoxicating sporty burble. Progress is also aided by a slick precise gearbox, well weighted steering and surefooted handling.

There is a fair bit of road and wind noise at higher speeds, but this does serve to remind you that you’re in a city car. For the most part the up! feels much bigger than it actually is.


VW up! is a polished little performer, offering simple, no frills, easy-to-live-with city motoring. It may be the bottom of the German firm’s range but the overall package is still classy and appealing.


Tech spec
Volkswagen up! 75PS High up! 5-door
Price: £12,000 OTR
Engine: 1.0-litre, petrol
Gearbox: 5-speed Manual
Power: 75 PS @6200 rpm
Torque: 95Nm @3000 rpm
Max Speed: 106 mph
0-62 mph: 13.2 secs
MPG (combined): 60.1
Emissions: 106g/km