What's the used Volkswagen Up hatchback like?
The best thing about the Volkswagen Up is that it doesn’t feel like a small car – not in the way it drives, the material choices of its interior or the way it rides. It’s only when you get out of it and see how much space is left over in a standard parking space that you remember that you’re in a bantam Volkswagen.
The Up has taken a lot of the design elements of the Toyota Aygo but given them a Germanic spin by combining it with the quality of the Volkswagen Golf. Somehow, during this process, it has managed to create a very stylish car with an identity all of its own. The Up is quite cute, with big, bug-eye headlights, tiny 15in wheels that are pushed out each corner, and a boxy rear end with a neat glass hatch that sports an oversized badge. Its looks were further enhanced by refreshes in 2016 and 2020, both of which trimmed the engine range and tweaked the styling.
The Up started life with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine in two states of tune: 59bhp and 74bhp. Later models offered two additional 1.0-litre engines: a turbocharged version with 89bhp and a 113bhp turbo in the sporty GTI model. There's also an all-electric e-Up. From 2020 onwards, the only petrol Ups were the 59bhp 1.0 and the revised GTI.
The later models include an entry-level Take Up trim that isn’t blessed with much standard equipment; even air conditioning isn’t on the list (it can’t be added as an option, either). Move Up trim gets you air-con, 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 trims are available only with the 59bhp engine.
Next comes High Up trim, which is offered with the 74bhp and 89bhp engines only and comes with a much more impressive kit list. This includes a more sophisticated 5.0in infotainment system, 15in alloy wheels, heated front seats, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, front foglights and a leather steering wheel and gearlever.
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.
On the road, the two lower-powered engines are a little weedy, so we'd recommend seeking out the 89bhp version. It brings much punchier acceleration, particularly at low revs, making the Up far more relaxing to drive and a much more competent out-of-town car. The 113bhp engine is exclusively offered in the range-topping Up GTI and can propel the tiny car to 62mph in just 8.8sec. There’s also an all-electric version called the e-Up. It feels genuinely nippy around town, although acceleration quickly tails off above 40mph.
For such a small car, the Up is certainly spacious in the front. There’s lots of leg room for tall adults and head room is equally generous. There’s plenty of room for elbows, too. The Up's boxy dimensions mean the roof doesn’t taper towards the rear of the car, so there's almost as much head room in the back as there is in the front. Leg room is reasonable by the standards of the class, although if you plan to carry adults in the back on a regular basis the Hyundai i10 is a roomier option.
The Up has a decent enough boot that's usefully square in shape and large enough for a few shopping bags or a couple of soft luggage cases. However, the rival Kia Picanto has a much bigger load bay so is a better choice if you need to carry lots of luggage.
Despite how polished the overall package is, the Up’s residual values haven’t been quite as good as those from rivals. However, it is more costly to buy than its closest rivals, the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo, and you’ll have to justify to yourself whether or not you are willing to pay extra for the nicer finishing touches of the Up.
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