Volkswagen Twin Up review

* Plug-in diesel-electric version of VW's city car * 31 miles on pure electric power * Production version likely; estimated price £18,000...

Volkswagen Twin Up review

As its name suggests, the VW Twin Up is powered by two engines – one diesel, one electric.

It’s a plug-in hybrid, and VW is claiming a spectacular average of 257mpg, along with a 31-mile range in pure electric mode.

At this stage, the Twin Up is only a prototype – albeit a well-developed one – but it's likely to be showroom-ready within 18 months. 

What’s the VW Twin Up like to drive?

VW claims the Twin Up can accelerate to 62mph in 15.7sec and on to a limited top speed (to preserve battery reserves) of 87mph. Together, both engines certainly develop useful pulling power, with their efforts directed through a seven-speed paddleshift automatic gearbox.

Driving the Twin Up is easy – you simply twist the key and sink the accelerator to go – leaving the VW’s brain to work out whether it should be electrically propelled, diesel driven or some combination of the two.

You can, however, choose to use only battery power or, alternatively, preserve the battery’s energy and avoid using the electric motor until you venture into the city.

In pure electric mode, the Twin Up is virtually silent, but the 0.8-litre two-cylinder diesel engine is gruff at low revs, only smoothing out as you speed up. 

Thankfully, the tidy handling and comfortable ride of the conventional Up remain largely intact. 

What’s the VW Twin Up like inside?

The Twin Up is barely any different from a regular Up inside, apart from slightly different instrumentation and an extra button enabling you to switch between different driving modes.

This means you get the same classy dashboard, with part-gloss finish, excellent driving position and a useful amount of space for a car so small.

The battery pack lives under the rear seats, and the only compromise for all this extra hardware is the loss of the spare wheel. The powertrain may be complex, but the aim is to make the Twin Drive as easy to live with as a regular Up.

Should I buy one?

You can’t yet, but if the Twin Up Up appears for the price VW is suggesting (around £18,000), it might well be worth considering.

Although you'd need to drive some way to recoup the additional outlay over a conventional Up, the Twin Up's low emissions are likely to qualify it for various tax incentives.

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Volkswagen Twin Up

Engine size 0.8-litre diesel

Price from £18,000 est

Power 74bhp

Torque 159lb ft

0-62mph 15.7 seconds

Top speed 87mph

Fuel economy 257.0mpg (official combined)

CO2 27g/km