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Volkswagen up! Move up!

MOVING ON UP! (some text hidden)

By Jonathan Crouch

The Volkswagen up! makes most sense on mid-spec 'Move up!' guise and this variant is likely to be the most popular UK version of the German giant's clever little citycar. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Reviewword count: 99

The Volkswagen up! is the citycar that has lifted the company out of a previously run of poor form in this sector. It's almost entirely gimmick-free, features an incredibly economical 1.0-litre engine, is well built, small on the outside and big on the inside. In this revised form, it's also smarter inside and out - and better connected too. What more could you want? A little personality maybe, but that's a tiny grumble. As to which version prospective customers will end up buying, it's highly likely to be the one on test here, the air conditioned Move up! model.

Backgroundword count: 187

Even a company as expert in the art of vehicle manufacture as Volkswagen has an Achilles heel. That used to be shown when it came to the construction of very small cars. Take the turn-of-the-century Lupo, Volkswagen's first crack at the modern citycar theme and a model that was too cramped and too expensive to succeed. Determined to learn from this expensive failure, Volkswagen went to the other extreme with the Lupo's successor, the Fox, launched in 2006. Bigger than virtually all its rivals, it was also cheap. Too cheap, it seems. It never felt like a Volkswagen product. Many of its rivals struck a far smarter balance between space and comfort. Undeterred, Volkswagen returned in 2012 for another try with its smart little up! Third time proved a charm and the up! sold prodigiously, before being significantly updated with a round of changes in the Autumn of 2016. For the UK, the range starts with a spartan 'Take up!' model, but that could prove a little basic for many buyers, people who'll want to find the extra £1,000 for the 'Move up!' variant on test here.

Driving Experienceword count: 204

The up! had a long gestation, having first appeared as a concept car at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. Back then, things were a little different, early prototypes featuring a rear mounted engine beneath the rear bench seat. The finished production car we first saw in 2012 proved to be a more conventional thing with a front engine and front wheel drive, but it's not short on clever touches. The tiny three-cylinder engine has a radiator that slots alongside it, making for a very short front end, just like the original. That 1.0-litre powerplant comes in three flavours but the 'Take up!' variant we look at here gets it only in base 60PS form. It's an engine that revs cleanly and pulls decently enough. Obviously it's not quick but it's got enough about it to blend sweetly into city traffic. The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual and it's light and precise, with the option of a single-clutch sequential ASG semi-auto 'box if clutch pedals bore you. The steering is similarly effort-free but accurate. For city driving, the up! is exactly as you'd want. If that sounds like damning with faint praise, it's anything but. It's built to a tight remit and it succeeds.

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Category: Small Runabouts

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