Motoring review: Moving Up! in the world

2015-02-15 14:02

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CITY CAR: The Up! has been designed to incorporate elements of sympathy and simplicity

In my opinion, Volkswagens are neat, reliable, safe, practical, sensible and have great after-sale value. But they’re not terribly exciting from a design perspective, except perhaps for the new Scirocco and the svelte Volkswagen CC. But with Volkswagen’s new entry-level city slicker, the Volkswagen Up!, all this is about to change.

The Up! is available in two trim levels: the 1.0 MPI Take Up! (R133?000) and the 1.0 MPI Move Up! (R140?500). At the local launch in Cape Town, we were greeted by rows of multicoloured, charismatic little runabouts, so cute you’d want to eat them. The front end seems to smile, which is not coincidental.

Walter de Silva, co-designer of the Up!, says it has been designed to incorporate the elements of sympathy and simplicity, and the design combines the friendliness of the Beetle with the rational perfection of the Golf.

The rear is my favourite part of the design with a three-layer glass boot lid that reminds me a bit of the Citroën C1. The cute, vertical rear lights seem as though they form part of the boot lid, but are joined to the Up!’s body.

The Up! also has the biggest boot in the entire A00 (entry-level) segment, with a practical 251?litres of cargo space regardless of the Up!’s full-size spare wheel.

The inside shows no signs of the typical, clinical German interior.

Instead, it has enough character to make you think there’s a bit of a French influence (but don’t tell the Germans that).

But the build quality is pure Volkswagen. The plastics aren’t the soft-touch variety, but feel solid and sturdy. The centre dashboard is a shiny black, which adds to the overall feeling of quality.


CLEAN AND ORGANISED: The inside shows no signs of a typical, clinical German interior

Even though the Up! looks small from the outside, VW made very good use of the available space.

The secret is in the long wheelbase and the engine that is mounted well forward. My 2-metre tall co-driver felt extremely comfortable and remarked that even though he didn’t need an Up!, he definitely wanted one.

The Take Up! and the Move Up! are issued with a 3-cylinder,

1-litre engine. I expected the Up! to be a little lazy, but with those tiny dimensions, the refined little engine does not have to struggle one bit. From its small capacity, the naturally aspirated engine develops 55kW and 95Nm, which feels a lot stronger than it looks on paper.

According to Volkswagen, fuel consumption (on average) is 4.7?litres per 100km, with only 108g/km of carbon dioxide emissions.

The five-speed manual gearbox is slick and the fifth gear has a longer ratio to keep the revs low. Power steering is of the electromechanical variety and I was impressed with its feeling of precision. It is also speed sensitive, so parking is easy, but when you’re out on the open road, it feels less light. On our route from Cape Town International Airport to Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West, the Up! felt solid, even at 140km/h, and we had no problem keeping in the fast lane. Top speed is 170km/h. Regarding safety, the Up! is the only car in this segment that boasts four air bags to protect occupants from front and side impacts, and has a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

Each Up! comes standard with a three-year/120?000km warranty, a 12-year corrosion warranty and 15?000km service intervals.

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