back to article Volkswagen Up!

They say good things come in small packages, and at only 3.5m long Volkswagen’s new city car is certainly small. To put that into context it is 28.5cm shorter than the unloved Fox it replaces and only 53.5cm longer than the original Mini. Volkswagen Up VW's done a good job with the styling There’s no denying VW has done a …


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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Very tempted

    I must say I am very tempted.

    What about headroom and visibility? how tall is the reviewer, (I'm 1.93 metres)?

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: Very tempted

      He said he was 5'11" (aka 1.83m - or more correctly 13.1 linguine).

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: Very tempted

        "He said he was 5'11" (aka 1.83m - or more correctly 13.1 linguine)."

        More precisely 180.3338 cm (1.8033m) or 12.881 linguine courtesy of the Reg Online Standards Converter

    2. LarsG

      Re: Very tempted

      Pulling my leg are you, This car can in no way be called pretty...

      Should have gone to spec savers.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Very tempted

        Compared to an Aygo, it's a right looker.

        Sounds like it's nicer to drive than an Aygo as well and has a usable boot.

        - Had an Aygo as a hire car once. Horrible little thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @compared to the Aygo

          Only if you look through beer goggles, if you think it I'd pretty you've obviously never been out with a good looking pretty girl. Do you always end up waking up next to her ugly mate.

          Give up the beer and quick.

  2. John H Woods Silver badge

    Surprisingly thirsty?

    My Audi A3 cab (140bhp 2.0TDi) has averaged over 50mpg in its first 15,000 miles, despite the fact that I sometimes enjoy driving it. It's fairly easy to get >60mpg even with the lid off on any trip over about 10 miles. I would have thought it would be reasonable to expect 80-90mpg out of a car like this?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Surprisingly thirsty?

      You are comparing apples with pears.

      The size of this thing precludes the fitting of a larger, heavier turbodiesel engine. It's intended City Car use precludes the use of a DPF and these are now mandatory on oil-burners. Thus a petrol engine is a must.

      The sweet spot for fuel consumption, if you're fuel-agnostic, is the Focus size.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surprisingly thirsty?

        Throw in my 10 year old Civic, boss's Astra Van or his wife's Corsa, all more than that, some by quite a margin.

      2. Richie 1

        Re: Surprisingly thirsty?

        > You are comparing apples with pears.

        Agreed, though it is possible to convert between the two. Diesel has about 12% more energy than the same volume of petrol, and correspondingly releases about 12% more CO2. (See, for example

        For a diesel car to have the same CO2 emissions as a petrol car that does 52mpg, it would need to do 52 * 1.12 = 58mpg.

        > The sweet spot for fuel consumption, if you're fuel-agnostic, is the Focus size.

        It depends on the type of driving. There are three main things that cause you to use fuel. Changing momentum, overcoming air resistance, and overcoming friction with the road.

        For city driving, changing momentum is the dominant cause of fuel usage, since you spend a lot of time accelerating and decelerating, and you are going slowly enough for air resistance to not matter. The way to reduce this fuel usage is to reduce the weight of the car, hence city cars are small and lightweight. Since air resistance is neglible at low speeds, they don't need to be as aerodynamic.

        For motorway driving, air resistance is dominant, since the force is proportional to the speed of the car cubed* but you don't change speed much. Here, reducing the car's weight doesn't have much of an effect, but making the car more aerodynamic does. This is why bigger cars can achieve high fuel economy for motorway driving.

        Friction of tyres on the road is usually smaller than the other two causes of fuel usage, but chunky off road tyres are less efficient than slicker road tyres (unless you actually are off road, in which cases having the wheels spin road without you moving anywhere is infinitely inefficient).

        *ignoring wind for simplicity

  3. ChrisJC

    52MPG ?!?!

    What a compromised car if you only get 52MPG in real world driving.

    I get about that from a much bigger / better Toyota Auris 2.0D, and I am not making any special effort to be frugal.

    I think I'll stick with the Toyota.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Piro

      Re: 52MPG ?!?!

      That's what I was thinking, I'm not sure where you're winning here with the Up!, although admittedly it is a very nicely packaged car. I get 50+ MPG from my '07 diesel Astra Estate, which I can then haul almost anything around in at will, instead of being stuffed in a tiny box.

      How about giving it some unique character? Get the 1.2 TDI from the Polo Bluemotion, stick it under the boot, raise that boot floor to be completely flat when the back seats are down, stuff the spare tyre in the space where the engine used to be at the front.

      A unique 4 seater RWD hatch, and I guarantee with that engine on board, you'll get absolutely ridiculous economy.

      1. AndyS

        Re: 52MPG ?!?!

        Uh... Or you could put an 8.0 litre W16 mid-chassis, throw in some radiators and ramp up the map to 1,000hp, like Bugatti did. That would be fun, too, right?

        Unfortunately it's not the car on review, which is a small, city, petrol. As a commenter above has already pointed out, this is an extremely good economy for this type of car.

        Reading a review of a car and then saying "why didn't they..." and coming up with a completely different concept is a bit, well, giraffe.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: 52MPG ?!?!

          Yes but the only thing you want from a small city car is good MPG.

          It's like building an 1000hp 8L V16 and saying well it isn't fast but what do you expect from a supercar?

          The only reason for not fitting a diesel is to sell it in the US, and the US aren't going to buy a family car that you can't fit 6kids and 36 cupholders in.

          1. Alain

            Re: 52MPG ?!?!

            Come on pals, this is a PETROL engine. My own 2011 Polo that likely sports a close cousin of this engine (3 cylinders, 1200CC) eats between 5.2L/100km and 6.0L/100. This converts to 54-47 mpg in your strange units if I'm not misled (most online converters seem to be for US gallons). I think it's pretty decent for a petrol engine, so at 50 mpg the Up is in the same ballpark.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 52MPG ?!?!

            Nope, you want small size since parking is hard to find in cities and you're often made to rent a space in London areas. I've seen some pretty tiny garages in cities too.

        2. Piro

          Re: 52MPG ?!?!

          I know, I'm not exactly thinking in the realms of what's there, just daydreaming a bit.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Shrunk my a***

    You call that shrunk? My fleet of Sirion Mk3s (I got two - 2003 and 2004) is 3.68 m in length (only 18 cm longer) and they have nearly double the luggage space, 5 doors, can seat 4 adults properly or 3 adults and two kids. VW still has a lot to learn in terms of interal space optimization and design :)

    You call that fun to drive? The Sirions can hit 0-60 in 8s and the 4x4 can go onto country roads with several inches of soft mud on them from a weekly bout of torrential rain (like the one we are having now in the UK or the one they had in Europe in mid may). Now that is what I call fun to drive :)

    They also do 52mpg if driven sensibly (very difficult with a car that goes like the proverbial clappers and growls like an angry bullterrier about to break off its leash). So VW economy is also just barely on par with a 2003 car.

    One word: Meah.... Not impressed, not impressed... At all..

  5. Valerion

    13s 0-60?

    Shoulda called it the Hurry Up...

    1. Charles Manning

      Wrong punctuation mark

      Shouldda been called the Up?

  6. Leona A
    Thumb Up

    Looks good.

    It looks good, I love the way the sat nav integrates with the stereo and vehicle systems.

    But I have to agree with others 50-52 mpg from a 1L petrol engine, that's really poor, should be knocking on the door of at least 60 mpg.

    We've just picked up a Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic and the first 200 miles we're getting 57mpg!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Unique to a car in this class is the City Emergency Braking system"

    So it's unrelated to the near-identical feature on this car's blood brother, the marginally cheaper just-lunched Skoda Citigo, then?

    And as others have said, 50ish mpg?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: "Unique to a car in this class is the City Emergency Braking system"

      So it is not a bad copy of a long list of better designed, better executed and more fun to drive cars by Daihatsu and Suzuki?

      We have seen only some of them in Europe and even the ones we have seen have been crippled by Toyota (Daihatsu) and GM (Suzuki) marketing. In Japan they have had ~10+ models across all manufacturers in this class at any give time for the last 30+ years. Hyundai and Kia also do cars in that category (Amica, Atoz, i10, Picanto, etc). If you want to "drawn" in a sea of cars in that category you need to go to the far east.

      In any case, VW is neither original, nor the best in class. Its only redeeming feature is that it is VW which for some strange reason makes some people have a hard on and give it unjustified 0.95 reviews.

  8. Omgwtfbbqtime

    I normally get 52mpg from a Renault bloody Megane with a roofbox.

    Without the roofbox it gets 62ish.

    Though I would accept the lower fuel economy in exchange for ELECTRICS THAT WORK!!

    Sorry rant over now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You did buy a Renault.

      They've never understood electrics.

    2. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

      I agree. My wife's got one, lovely car, but the electrics do just what they fancy. At the moment, the rear windows go down on their own.

  9. Pirate Peter

    what about the skoda citigo - same platform and better if you are not a badge snob

    no mention of the other VAG cars based on the same platform, that are cheaper if you are not a badge snob

    look at the Seat Mii, or the Skoda Citigo

    the skoda is better equiped, cheaper and has been available in 5 door format since launch unlike the VW up which will not have a 5 door variant until q4 2012 or even q1 2013

    in the auto express group test the skoda was more economical than the other 2, better equiped and cheaper like for like factory fit options

    1. Cosmo

      Re: what about the skoda citigo - same platform and better if you are not a badge snob

      Fail yourself - both cars are mentioned in the penultimate paragraph

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what about the skoda citigo - same platform and better if you are not a badge snob

        These tiny cars aren't my cup of tea, but I'm not fond of expensive german badges either.

        If the other half wanted a small car, I'd recommend a Skoda Citigroup.

        Generally, according to warranty websites, they're better thrown together than their german compatriates.

        (Mine would have to be the Octavia VRS though.)

        Saw one of these "UP!"s the other day. In white. Didn't like the design, too cold, clinical and germanic. Like driving around in an iPod.

        And whats the exclamation mark about? "Ja, dis is ein fun wagen. See der exclamation mark!"

  10. Jim 59


    Interior looks really attractive. Satnav has the advantage of cheap map updates, maybe?

    50 Mpg is a little poor. As others have said, for maximum MPG, go for a diesel Focus. Technology means you have to PAY for food fuel economy, as the smallest/simplest engines aren't the most frugal.

  11. Tibbs

    Frankfurt Motor Show

    I was at the Frnkfurt Motor Show where this car was unveiled.

    Walking along the fleet of cars looking at the number plates:

    Red Car - Red Up!

    Blue Car - Blue Up!

    Yellow Car - Yellow Up!

    Green Car - Green Up!

    White Car - White Up!

    wait for it...

    Black Car - Black Up!

    All it was missing was Jazz hands and the horn saying "Maaaaammmmmmmmy" when you pushed it...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Frankfurt Motor Show

      I've heard that there's a customisable version in the offing. The purchaser will be able to specify individual panel colours, choose from a range of window tints, add a variety of styling accessories and also pick one of a wide selection of interior trim levels and materials.

      Create a car that is unique: Up Yours.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Frankfurt Motor Show

        Return of the multi-colour golf?

        The one with every panel a different colour so that people knew you were an art teacher (did anyone else buy them?)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Frankfurt Motor Show

          The Polo Harlequin? It looked like a scrap yard special, or that Bennetton F1 car from the early 90s.

          My art teacher drove a Hyundai Accent. But then our school's art dept. got slammed at an inspection. The english teacher did drive a 2CV.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: multi-colour golf

          I thought it looked like they had an accident and those were the only panels they could get.

    2. Tom 35

      Re: Frankfurt Motor Show

      I don't think I want a Blue one.

    3. biscuit

      Re: Frankfurt Motor Show

      That's the marketing they're using here in France. The colours names not the Jazz hands.

  12. xyz

    A contractor writes....

    I've got a factory chipped 3.5L merc with 7 speed box, dropped suspension, ultra low profiles tyres, tuned exhaust, electronically limited to 155mph, so my questions are.... what's mpg and why do you need it?

    Oh and do you buy 2 of these cars, one for each foot?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A contractor writes....

      7 Speed?? 3.5L??


  13. Robert Grant Silver badge

    "There's lots of room in back for small car"

    I don't care if English isn't your first language, you're never fitting a small car in the back of this one.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well put.

    > Aside from the BMC Mini and new Fiat 500, it’s the only very small car I actually like the look off.

    And thanks for distinguishing between the real and BMW.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "There’s no denying VW has done a good job with the styling. Aside from the BMC Mini and new Fiat 500"

    It looks like a fiat panda.

  16. AbortRetryFail

    Dab of Oppo

    "The Volkswagen Up! is a b*tch and I spanked it"

    ~~ Troy Queef, Executive Associate Editor-At-Large for DAB OF OPPO magazine

  17. Mark Wilson

    Painted metal interior?

    There is a reason most modern cars don't go down that route, cheap it maybe but it is noisy, just try the Aygo or one of its identicals by other makes. Another tiny impractical pseudo eco-box with real world economy way below its claims and rivaled by other much more practical cars.

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: Painted metal interior?

      Agreed. I still can't reconcile the comments of "typical premium VW finish" with the amount of bare metal on the interior surfaces (the dash is actually a plastic insert, painted in body colour, though). This is a cost-cutting measure, and nothing else.

      The Up is good, but the new Fiat Panda is so much better in every way barring the badge-snobbery, perhaps, although the current Panda seems to enjoy something of a following as a statement against this sort of thing.

  18. Al Taylor

    Fuel economy

    I should come clean here and admit I spent most of my week driving the Up with my right foot buried in the carpet - it being someone else's car and petrol. Had it been my car and fuel I'm pretty sure I could have got 60+mpg from it. My actual figure of 52mpg is probably the very worst you would get.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Fuel economy

      Thanks for the admission - my comment that it was thirsty cost me a downvote - despite the fact that loads of people agreed with me! I feel better about it now :-)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last week in BA High Life mag

    I was reading a comparison between the Up! and the current Panda.

    The Panda won.

    I can undersand this. Last summer I rented a virtually brand new Panda in Spain and loved it.

    Just before that The wife had bought a new Ford Ka and I commented on the similarity of lots of the driver interfaces. It turns out that the Panda, the Ka and the Fiat 500 are effecvtivy the same car (with minor differences) coming off the same production lines somewhere in the Czech Republic.

    For me the panda is way the better car - and it has 4 doors.

    From what I remember, Top Gear (the mag not the show) also put the Panda ahead.

    I ike that city-breaking thing though, I could use that.

    1. Kristian Walsh

      Re: Last week in BA High Life mag

      The car you had was the previous-model Panda, and it is indeed the basis of both the Ford Ka and Fiat 500 (and the Lancia/Chrysler Ypsilon). While the newest Panda (launched this year) has returned to Italy, the 500 and Ka are still both made in the same FIAT plant in Poland.

      Ford did the cosmetic design for the Ka, based on FIAT's platform, but then completely outsourced the development of the car to FIAT, which makes it fun to see comments from reviewers in the likes of "What Car?" that claimed that the Ka would be mechanically more reliable than the 500, being a Ford.. (the only mechanical difference between the cars is a different rear suspension arm and dampers; everything else is 100% identical, and all FIAT).

      The Up isn't a bad car - it's very good, and a world away from VW's previous efforts at this size. But it's not the best.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is the VW "by far the best looking"? All three are virtually indistinguishable. You can make a judgement about the Aygo/107/C1 at least.

  21. Boris S.

    OK for city use only

    In Europe these pregnant roller skates are OK for city driving only but if you venture outside the city you are a rolling accident looking fo a place to happen. I have seen the not so Smart cars in Germany hold up a line of cars on rural roads because they could not accelerate up to 100 kph with two passengers in the vehicle. This makes these vehicles suicide rides as they infuriate everyone else on the roadway and a large lorry can blow them into the ditch when passing by.

    In the U.S. where they have grossly sized SUV's, these things along with the not so Smart cars are death traps when hit by a huge, oversized and overweight SUV.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a charming language

    Bonnet mascot? Is that Blightian for hood ornament?

  23. Richard Jukes


    I think the more pertinant (fuck off grammar nazi's!) question regards the engine mounts, are they the same and in the same position as other nice engines that VW make. Such as the 1.8 turbo petrol engine they produce?

    That could be interesting :-)

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: hmm

      It has a half engine. Do VW make an equivalent full engine?

      I like going to Halfords and asking why they only sell spark plugs in 2/3rds of an engine boxes!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I loved it

    Until I saw those red panels.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: I loved it

      Looks very cheap. Haven't been in a car with body colour inside since I fitted the door trim into my old 1978 car about 20 years ago.

  25. rascal.
    Thumb Down

    Have you been sponsored by Volkswagen?

    I'm following a lot of german car magazines.

    Usually they are extremely positive about any car that comes from the Volkswagen group.

    But when you read the user comments the picture is very different.

    German motor press is sponsored by Volkswagen.

    I really really hope that isn't the case with you.

    Ok its a decent small car, but i'm sorry it's not that good.

    There are many better alternaitves

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have you been sponsored by Volkswagen?

      The UK motoring press is also mostly sponsored by VW group and BMW.

      Just look at most UK motoring publications - the news, reviews, scores, articles and what marques they cover.

      Also take a quick tally of advertisers throughout the publications....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read up on DPFs. I did when I noticed my engine oil was increasing and I was forced to draw approx 1.2l of oil out via the dipstick to prevent engine meltdown! This is on a car which gets a 60 mile motorway thrashing 5 days a week i.e. not a city car with a blocked DPF.

    I will never buy another diesel car and cars like this are the future as far as I'm concerned. The only problem is the waiting list. Won't get mine until September at the earliest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      there have been a lot of adverts in Farmers Weekly recently for the last generation of tractors with Stage 3A compliant engines for similar reasons. Means you don't get issues with EGR (and having to occasionally rev the nuts off the engine to clear it out every now and then according to a JD dealer I've heard) or having to use AdBlue with the extra cost of topping that up.

      Don't get me started on biodiesel... of all the things to waste land and real diesel making...

    2. Cosmo

      Do you have a Mazda 5 by any chance? I've heard of this problem of engine oil rising past the magic 'X' mark with these

    3. MJI Silver badge

      DPFs - Scarey

      Thanks for letting me know I am staying petrol engine. But will be be Prinz, Romano or something cheap DIY fitted next time.

  27. This Side Up

    "only 53.5cm longer than the original Mini."

    You mean "over half a metre longer than the original Mini."

    The Mini is only 3.05m long so the VW is over 17.5% longer.

  28. Raz

    <<Despite the piddly little motor, the Up can get quite a move on. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 13.2 seconds>>

    0 to 100 km/h in 13.2 is truck territory. Where's the fun when all other cars are passing you by, even if that wiper motor that passes as an engine in this car is screaming (whining?) at full speed.

    VW makes a really economical car that is actually useful: Passat Diesel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And a new one is between 3 and 4 times the price, it is also twice the size, which is not always practical for everyone, fair comparison FAIL!

      Vehicles >3.5t are electronically restricted to 90Km/h in the UK, so given the truck will never get there your analogy = FAIL.

  29. This Side Up

    The trouble is

    local council policies of building road humps here there and everywhere force you to use a big SUV or 4x4. In particular the small "cushions" (nothing could be more badly named) discriminate against small cars.

  30. Richard 51
    Thumb Down


    Eh, is it just me or has the question why are we getting a top gear report in what is supposed to be a technology news site?

    If I wanted car reviews I would have gone to Top Gear or Autocar...

  31. Ken 16 Silver badge

    Where can I get a laser reflector for my bumper?

    I want to extend the range at which this car will brake when I am in front of it.

  32. Mugwump

    Wow, a small car that makes a virtue of cheapness

    What's wrong with you people - an £80million UK marketing budget is meant for you to forget this has all been done before!

  33. Alex-L

    Honey, I shrunk the Golf?

    What do you mean "Honey, I shrunk the Golf" it's pretty much a new Lupo.

  34. Chz
    Thumb Down

    It's not a diesel, people!

    Seems like it's better than the new Micra in small city car territory, but not a lot else. I can't understand the reviewer's love for it, bar that he got to thrash it about on someone else's dime for a bit. Which really is the best thing about these sorts of cars! I've had to family-size up to a Note from the old Micra and I sort of miss just leaving the pedal planted to the floor the whole time.

    As for fuel consumption, this is a petrol car and not a diesel one. Modern diesels are not appropriate to the "city car" concept like the old ones were. The paraphernalia required to stop the fumes killing us all clogs up too easily under those conditions. Also, in my personal experience, the smaller engines may deliver a higher optimal MPG but they go south in a very big hurry with even a slight over-use of the right foot. My bigger, heavier 1.6L Note doesn't deliver real-world mileage much below the 1.2L Micra it replaced. A lot of that is in the fact that it's perfectly happy to schlep along in 4th in town, which would make the Micra choke and die. It's also partly that it's now dangerous to just drive around with my foot on the floor. :)

  35. MinkiesMum
    Thumb Down

    Should Have Retained The Lupo

    There was nothing wrong with the Lupo nor the SEAT Version, the Arosa, and they had decent sized engines too. These new ones of which SEAT have a version and I believe Skoda too are way too piddling !!

  36. Herby

    Now for the IT angle...

    Is this "UP!" car from some people here in sillycon valley. I thought that Yahoo! was the only brand that had a '!' in its name.

    Now for a comparison: The original VW Bug had a 36 HP engine until about 1960, and then it went up to a whopping 40 HP. All with a 1200 cc engine. I drove a 1964 one, and 'upgraded' it to a little peppier 1400 cc. It found hills a little easier after that. Of course in the 60's VW Bugs sold for $1995 (they put it on a billboard).

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