It wasn’t instant but VW’s new baby did grow on Frederick Manby
ALL the car people are chattering about Volkswagen’s up!. This four-seater with the typographic mistake in its name is the latest small car sensation. VW Group partners SEAT and Skoda have almost identical models in the Mii and Citigo. They have one-litre three-cylinder aluminium engines in two power outputs with five-speed super light aluminium manual and automatic gearboxes. The three-door models will be followed by more practical five-door versions. A gas-fuelled engine will not be sold in the UK but electric power is here next year in the up! Blue-e-motion. Oh, those wordsmiths at VW.
Prices start at just under £8,000 for the 59bhp engine in the base Take up! trim which does not have air conditioning. Then there is a Move up! and then a 74bhp version called the High up! at £10,390. This more powerful motor is also offered in up! white and up! black launch versions at £11,180.
I was initially bewildered at the fuss over the baby VW. It is roomy for its size, but so are many cars. The tailgate is clad top to bottom in window glass, blacked out over the paintwork. This is an effective way of integrating a back window and its surrounds with one smooth panel. It certainly gives very clean rear styling and immediately identifies the car.
Motoring over the bridge at Henley from the traffic lights I dropped the window. The 74bhp motor was throbbing and shouting and sounded gruff, despite shed-loads of VW technology to obviate balancer shafts.
The up! is only a three-cylinder model but there is salvation in the 59bhp unit. It is quieter and smoother than the 74bhp engine – and cheaper, though not available in the higher trim grades so if you want some of the tastier extras you’ll have to add them to the spec, which means the price starts to creep up on the same kit with the 74bhp motor. On this first trial I’d still avoid the 74bhp unit. It needs revving higher to get its extra power which exacerbates the noise.
The 59bhp engine has better torque at low speed. This engine in the £8,970 Move up! will take half the sales and has the lowest insurance group. The Blue-e-motion version dips under the 100g/km barrier and is exempt from road tax and London’s congestion charge. It costs £9,330 and is the one I would buy, indeed may buy one day because the up! was starting to appeal.
My test model was the regular 59hp engine, quoted at 62.8mpg, 105g/km of CO2 and a 0-62mph time of 14.4 seconds. The 74bhp version records 60mpg, 13.2 seconds and 108g/km. At this point we should note that the up! is being marketed as a city car, not a motorway racer. It is roomy because of the forward engine position and long wheelbase. With the seats down it holds the same volume of luggage as the Polo. With the seats in place it will carry four six-footers without discomfort.
The up! achieves the highest Euro NCAP crash test rating and gets a special award for its (optional) city braking system. In theory, if you are travelling at less than 19 miles an hour it will stop you whacking into the back of a stationary vehicle. «
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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