Our cars: Volkswagen Up - October
Week ending October 19
Driven this week: 66 miles
Volkswagen Up review
I put the Up to the test as a family car this week, with my two toddlers riding in the back. Okay, the boot doesn't stand a hope of taking my three-wheeler buggy and it was hard work loading my weighty 19-month-old into the back of a three-door car but the shape of the rear windows meant they both got a good view out.
In fact, visibility is great all round in the Up, which adds to the sense of safety driving round busy London streets. It also slips effortlessly into the tightest of parking spaces, which is handy for the rush-hour nursery pick-up.
Week ending October 19
Driven this week: 736 miles
This week I’ve had fun attempting to crash the VW Up at a demonstration of collision-avoidance technology at Thatcham.
Much to the relief of our long-term Up’s custodian, staff writer Rory White, the VW’s city emergency braking system (which comes with the £225 Driver’s Assistance Pack) prevented us from collecting any dents.
The day had been organised to publicise the Association of British Insurers’ announcement that, from now on, drivers with cars fitted with automated emergency braking technology as standard could have their insurance premiums slashed by as much as 10%.
The Up’s system uses a laser to monitor the traffic in front, and if the driver fails to an impending collision, the emergency braking kicks in to stop the car completely at speeds of up to 10mph. Beyond that it’ll slow the car to minimise damage at up to 19mph.
It’s pretty unnerving, driving straight at a static object, and when the brakes are applied at the last second – and with maximum force – it gives you quite a violent jolt, even at 10mph. It’s not a pleasant experience, so I wouldn’t try it at home, but it’s got to be preferable to slamming into the car in front.
Unfortunately, because city emergency braking is available only as an option, the Up isn’t eligible for a cut in its insurance group rating – so no discounts apply right now. However, if you do spec it, you’ll vastly reduce your chances of having a bump at low speed, which seems like good value to me.
By Emma Butcher
Week ending October 12
Driven this week: 385 miles
My first outing in our new VW Up wasn't that dramatic at all. Just my normal 6-mile round trip from the What Car? office to home and back. Then again, this means stop-start traffic, speed bumps and a tight, terraced street to park in – so the Up's natural habitat in other words.
The commute did confirm that this is the pre-eminent city car. We were right to name it our Car of the Year back in January, and I'm looking forward to driving it a lot more in the next 12 months. I love its super-flexible three-cylinder engine and the slick manual shift that helps you make the best of it.
It's a comfortable, spacious car, too, and the boot had no problem accommodating my weekly supermarket shop last night. Best of all, it looks terrific and we made a great choice by getting a white one, with a light interior. Chic functionality at its best.
My one concern is that it doesn't cope all that well with the broken tarmac around my house – but I'm already fascinated to see how longer trips fare.
By Chas Hallett
Featured in this story