Compared with rivals such as the Hyundai i10, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, the Up’s brochure price looks a bit expensive. Day-to-day running bills should be low, though, especially with the 59bhp and 74bhp versions, because both averaged a fraction over 55mpg in our real-world True MPG tests. . We've yet to put the more powerful 89bhp model through our fuel tests, but a claimed 64.2mpg is impressive on paper. Another plus for that engine is that it’s not much more expensive to buy than the 74bhp in the same trim, and it’s a much more rounded car.
Both 59bhp and 74bhp models are available in economy-boosting Bluemotion Technology form. This brings tech such as engine stop-start and low-rolling-resistance tyres to help cut CO2 emissions to less than 100g/km. These versions command a price premium, though, so only really make sense if you're a company car driver looking to take advantage of lower monthly tax bills.
Resale values are good if not spectacular – a Hyundai i10 is predicted to be worth more after three years – although you should be able to get a reasonable discount when buying your Up. The all-electric e-Up is seriously pricey, although a Government grant helps lower that price, and besides, you’re more likely to lease it anyway. If you can live with its limitations – a claimed maximum range of 99 miles, for example – then it's an interesting option.
Volkswagen Up equipment
The entry-level Take Up isn’t blessed with much standard equipment – even air-con isn’t on the list (it can’t be added as an optional extra, either). Move Up trim gets you air-conditioning, as well as electric front windows, remote central locking, a full-size spare wheel, split-folding rear seats and a height-adjustable boot floor. Both these trims are available only with the 59bhp engine.
Our favourite is High Up trim, which is offered with the 74bhp and 89bhp engines only and comes with a much more impressive kit list. This includes the more sophisticated 5.0in infotainment system, 15in alloy wheels, heated front seats, electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, a leather steering wheel and gearlever and front foglights.
The Up Beats is a separate trim available with all three engines. It's slightly less lavishly equipped than the High Up, but if you love your music you won't care about that because it brings a much more powerful sound system. Meanwhile, you don’t get a choice of trim level in the e-Up; however, the sole specification that’s available is based on the High Up, so it has more than enough standard equipment.
Volkswagen Up reliability
The Up is one of the the most reliable cars in its class, based on the results of our most recent customer satisfaction survey. There were a few issues – the main ones being with its manual gearbox, parcel shelf and sat-nav system – but overall the Up suffered fewer problems than its main rivals.
Like all Volkswagens, the Up comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty and one year’s breakdown cover. This is comparable with the cover provided by most car companies, but falls short of the five-year/100,000-mile warranty you get with the Hyundai i10. You can buy an extended warranty that covers your Up for up to five years or 90,000 miles.
Volkswagen Up safety & security
All Ups come with stability control, twin front airbags, and side ’bags that extend upwards to cover the same area as curtain airbags. There are also Isofix child seat-mounting points on the rear seats. It’s a shame that rear side airbags aren’t an option, though.
Nevertheless, the car achieved the maximum five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2011, with scores of 89% for adult occupant protection, 80% for child occupant protection, and 46% for pedestrian protection. The rival Hyundai i10 scored slightly lower marks for adult and child safety, but fared better for pedestrian safety.
City emergency braking, which automatically applies the brakes if the system detects you’re about to hit the vehicle in front, is available as a reasonably priced option on most models (it comes as standard on the all-electric e-Up).
Security experts Thatcham awarded the Up four out of five for resisting being stolen, and three out of five for resisting being broken into.
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Entry-level Ups aren’t blessed with much equipment. Steel wheels, LED running lights, remote central locking, a DAB radio and a CD player are included, but air-con isn’t on the list. Take Up trim is available only with the 59bhp entry-level engine.
Move Up models get electric front windows, a USB socket, a full-size spare wheel, split-folding rear seats and a height-adjustable boot floor. We reckon this trim makes more sense than Take Up, although we’d still recommend going for High Up trim if you can afford it. Move Up trim is available only with the 59bhp entry-level engine.
Our pick High Up
High Up trim gets you a lot of kit for your money, so it's our favourite. 15in alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth, heated front seats, electrically operated and heated door mirrors, extra speakers for the stereo, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearlever and front foglights. This trim level is available only with the 74bhp and 89bhp engines.
The Up Beats is all about enjoying your music. It's based on Move Up trim, but adds a 300-watt, seven speaker sound system with a subwoofer for punchier bass. You also get the upgraded 5.0in colour infotainment system from the High Up, along with 15in alloys and plenty of bespoke styling touches. The Up Beats is available with all three petrol engines so is certainly worth a look.
The all-electric version of the Up is expensive on paper, although you do get a Government grant to lower the cost. It’s more appealing on a lease deal or as a company car, though – the latter due to sizeable tax breaks. The e-Up has typical electric car limitations, in this case a maximum claimed range of 99 miles, so you’ll need to scrutinise your lifestyle carefully before deciding if it suits you. It’s well equipped, mind, with climate control, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and a heated windscreen all standard.