Volkswagen Up Hatchback full 9 point review
You have the choice of two 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, one with 59bhp and the other with 74bhp. Neither is very fast and both need revs to get going. The lower-powered of the two is sluggish on the open road, too, but the more eager 74bhp engine copes impressively well at motorway speeds.
Ride & Handling
The Up’s main virtue is its supple ride, which mops up most road imperfections. It’s fun, too. It’s a small car that feels like one: agile, accurate and effortless to pilot. The dimensions help, of course, but the light, direct steering and snappy manual gearchange also play their part.
Three-cylinder engines are normally buzzy devices. Not in the VW. Of course, it isn’t quite as smooth as a four-cylinder, and you notice small vibrations at low revs, but it’s silky enough everywhere else. Mind you, a mite too much wind and road noise creep into the cabin at higher speeds. Avoid the ASG gearbox, which is jerky and slow to respond.
Buying & Owning
The Up isn’t the cheapest car in its class, or the best equipped. However, the car has massively strong residual values, which make it an very sound long-term investment. Economy is good, too, particularly on the 59bhp unit, which delivers a tidy, if not class-leading, 62.8mpg. The BlueMotion Tech version gets closer to 70mpg.
Quality & Reliability
No other city car - not even the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo with which it shares its mechanicals – can get anywhere near the Up for classiness. The dashboard has glossy panels and chrome-rimmed switchgear, and the plastics are of a uniformly high standard throughout. It’s posh enough to shame most cars from the class above. Reliability is also good, and the Up was the overall winner in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
All Ups have twin front airbags, plus side ‘bags that extend upwards to cover the same area as curtain airbags. However, the most basic model misses out on standard stability control. Nevertheless, the car achieved the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, and city emergency braking is available as a very reasonably priced option.
Behind The Wheel
The Up's dash isn't complicated, and that's a good thing. All major controls are well sited, and have VW's usual chunky, no-nonsense design. The dials are clear, too, and if you go for the top-spec model there's a terrific (and removable) sat-nav infotainment system on top of the dash. The seats are flat and firm and the basic driving position is good, although it would be better if the steering wheel adjusted for reach as well as height.
Space & Practicality
There's a great feeling of space up front, thanks to the uncluttered cabin and generous shoulder space. The Up is also reasonably spacious in the back, with enough space for two adults, as long as they're not overly tall. The boot is one of the biggest in the class, and with the rear bench flipped forward, there's more cargo space than in some superminis.
There are three trim levels, and all of them are decently equipped or have the ability to be augmented with sensibly priced options. The top car – the High Up – comes with an excellent (and removable) sat-nav infotainment system, as well as heated front seats.