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Volkswagen up! (2012 - 2016)

UP! - YOURS? (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

Introductionword count: 72

A proper Volkswagen - just a smaller one. Launched in 2012, the up! enabled the German brand to regain the initiative in the important citycar sector and immediately set a high standard for contenders in this class. Frugal, fun, clever and competitively priced, it's a key used car option for buyers, not only for those shopping in the market's smallest segment but also for people buying a compact car of any kind.

Modelsword count: 11

3 & 5DR HATCH (1.0 PETROL - 60PS, 75PS) / E-UP!

Historyword count: 287

Volkswagen. The very name means 'Peoples Car' - the kind of compact, inexpensive transport pioneered by the Beetle fifty years ago. Something the Wolfsburg maker hadn't had a lot of success in providing before this up! was launched. This model changed all that, a design that democratised sophisticated small car technology in Europe at the same time as offering a new kind of basic transport for the emerging markets of China, India and South America. In early concept, it was smarter even than the finished product that finally made the showrooms in 2012, the original 2007 prototype being rear-engined just like the early Beetle, as the German designers sought to find more space from an ever-smaller roadway footprint. But such complexity would have made the finished production version as expensive as 'lifestyle' small cars like the MINI or the Audi A1. Which wasn't the point at all. The Wolfsburg brand was determined that the up! would be a car that almost anyone could afford. In any case, it could still be clever even if it was conventionally front-engined. If the engine could be smaller, the wheelbase longer and the overhangs shorter, the development team reckoned that the ambitious cabin space goals set by the rear-driven concept could still be achieved. To that basic formula was added all manner of innovation. Depending on its purpose and the preference of its buyer, an up! can guide you with Google. It can brake itself to avoid an accident. It can even be an all-electric runabout (the battery-powered e-up! introduced in 2014). It can, in short, be all things to all people. A real Peoples Car. The up! was substantially revised in mid-2016; here, we're focusing on the early 2012-2016 versions.

What You Getword count: 731

Styling chief Walter de Silva, who first sketched this car on a bit of paper on the flight back from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, was quick to sum up his objectives with this design: 'the friendliness of a Beetle - the rational perfection of a Golf'. Unmistakably a genuine Volkswagen, the idea within this brief was to create lifestyle on wheels, a smiling look that was simply appealing whose appeal was simple. But forget the aesthetics and the marketing speak: two statistics sum up the real thinking behind this design. A length of around 3.5-metres yet a wheelbase that takes up nearly 2.5-metres of that. Which is why, though an up! is no longer than a Fiat 500, it offers far more room inside, space in fact for the four fully-sized adults who could never comfortably fit in the apparently space-efficient Italian car. How has this been done? By shortening the front and rear overhangs as much as the designers dared, something only possible at the front by mounting the radiator alongside rather than in front of the very compact engine. The result is a tardis-like interior just as big as that of Volkswagen's far pricier Polo supermini. Let us give you one example of how that plays out. Let's take luggage space. You don't get quite as much as was offered in this car's predecessor, the Fox, but open the glass tailgate apparently styled to look like a flat-screen TV and as long as you can lump your stuff over the rather high sill, you'll find 251-litres of space - nearly twice what you get in, say, a rival Peugeot 107, a Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo or a MINI. Push forward the rear bench - only split-folding from mid-spec upwards - and the 951-litre total is 50% more than you'd get in the ordinary boot of a huge Volkswagen Passat Estate. From mid-spec 'Move up!' level onwards, you get a variable level cargo floor. Lower it for taller items: raise it if you want a completely level luggage floor when the seats are folded. Up front, a cool dished three-spoke steering wheel fashioned from light magnesium frames an instrument cluster of refreshing simplicity. A pity though that it's only adjustable for height, not for reach. The interior design with its large speedometer is clean and easy to get to grips with, featuring high gloss back trim and a compact centre pod for many of the minor controls. True, there's no shortage of hard plastics, but this doesn't feel like a car that's been ruthlessly built down to a price like its Fox predecessor. It just feels agreeably minimalist. This is certainly a colourful cabin and buyers from new got the option of painted body-coloured panels evoking the spirit of the original Beetle. The car is well screwed together too by the Slovakian factory: when you turn the air vents to one side for example, they locate with a well-rounded 'click'. Only a few little touches - the lack of illumination for the electric window switches for example - remind you of this car's lowly position in the Volkswagen line-up. There's loads of storage too, with bottle holders in each of the two doors, a glovebox holder for pens, a compartment for your sunglasses and three cupholders dotted around the cabin. Perhaps the cleverest touch is the 'Maps + More' portable infotainment system with a neat 5" colour touchscreen you can carry in your pocket or handbag and then clip just above the centre console. It's a little box of tricks that includes a navigation system, a hands-free telephone unit, a media player and even vehicle information displays. There are four basic menus - 'Vehicle', 'Navigation', 'Media' and 'Telephone'. In 'Vehicle', you've a trip computer, door monitoring, parking assist info and the so-called 'ThinkBlue.Trainer' that can help you drive more eco-consciously. In 'Navigation', which can display in 3D, you can locate everything from local carparks to places of interest. And if you park up and take the screen with you, it can even guide you back to your car if you forget where you've parked it. Then there's 'Media', which can play music from SD cards and MP3 players and display your photos. And 'Telephone' functions with any Bluetooth smartphone, offering voice-activated control. 'Maps & More' can be cleverer still if you download onto it a whole range of apps.

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