What's the used Volkswagen e-Up hatchback like?
There are two schools of thought when it comes to designing an electric car. The first option is to develop an electric car from an existing model; the second is to develop a car that's completely new from the ground up. The beauty of the first method, apart from the fact it’s much cheaper, is that it gives people a car they already know and trust and showcases what electrification can do. In the case of the Volkswagen Up, this is one of the city cars that people most trust; indeed, it’s so good that it has almost come to define this class, and if you’re thinking of switching to an EV, why not do it with the seemingly familiar?
So, what you get is what you see: the e-Up is a zero-emissions Up, with a claimed maximum range of 99 miles in warmer weather and between 50 and 75 miles in colder conditions. It can be charged via a standard three-pin socket, taking nine hours from empty to full, six hours from a dedicated wall charger or half an hour from a rapid charger. The battery itself is hidden under the seats, so the luggage capacity of the e-Up is the same as that of the regular Up. You might, therefore, think there is little to differentiate the e-Up from the standard car, but the two are, of course, very different under the skin.
For starters, the e-Up is spookily quiet. Indeed, it’s almost silent around town. Approach a corner and, remarkably, the e-Up is quite good fun, thanks to its direct steering. It handles well, too, and it even rides slightly better than its petrol-engined sibling, taking bumps and potholes with aplomb. There’s a good rush of almost instantaneous acceleration, too, and the car, while not ultimately very fast, is quick enough to cope easily with nearly all road situations.
There are five different levels of energy recuperation, which increase the amount of regenerative braking that happens when you lift off the accelerator. The aim is to put energy that would normally be lost in slowing down and braking back into the battery.
There are also three separate driving modes that adjust the climate control, performance and speed limiter in order to either improve comfort or increase the range. Normal lets you drive unimpeded, Eco reduces performance slightly and Eco+ switches off interior heating altogether and cuts performance further still.
Inside, there’s a good driving position, although the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, which some might find a pain. The dashboard is logically laid out and user-friendly, and space up front is fine. The rear seats are limited to two people, and taller passengers will feel a little cramped. The boot is decent for a city car, and the variable-height boot floor means you can hide the charging cables.