VW up!

16 Apr, 2008 1:31pm Sam Hardy

Funky new city car from VW is up! and running - and we've got all the details.

Meet the modern-day people’s car. Set to follow in the footsteps of the much loved Beetle, this is the most revolutionary new model in the history of Volkswagen: the stunning up!

Thanks to our sources within the company, Auto Express can give you the best look yet at the striking city runabout. It’s scheduled to make its debut in UK showrooms in 2010, and will compete with an emerging army of chic, eco-friendly small cars such as the Fiat 500 and all-new Toyota iQ.

The up! was displayed for the first time in concept form at last autumn’s Frankfurt Motor Show, and is the smallest, cleverest model VW has ever built. It has a super-compact, rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive powertrain, and promises to be incredibly environmentally friendly, with low CO2 emissions.

As you can see from our images – produced using exclusive insider information – the final showroom version will maintain all the cheekiness and stand-out style of the concept. And that’s no surprise; bosses at VW have always made it clear that the production up! would look virtually identical to the model seen on the stands at Frankfurt. This is an approach already followed by Toyota with the iQ.

At the front, the up! gets headlights inspired by the Golf, as well as a reprofiled bumper with redesigned air intakes and integrated indicators. It’s a similar story at the rear, where the lamps have been modified from those on the show model, as has the lower bumper. VW’s trademark pull-type door handles and conventional wing mirrors complete the look.

The up! will be the spiritual successor to the Lupo, and measures around 3.5 metres long and 1.6 metres wide. Yet VW claims it will offer more space inside than any class competitor.

Inspiration for the four-seat cabin design will be taken from the concept, with buyers being able to fold the three passenger seats flat or remove them completely. The dashboard will be cutting-edge, too, incorporating digital touchscreen displays. And the hi-tech feel continues under the skin, as VW engineers are currently developing a choice of two-cylinder powerplants for the up!

These will come in petrol or diesel guises, and have a capacity of around 600cc. Both units are likely to be turbocharged, and VW is targeting CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km and combined fuel economy of 94mpg. A 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol motor is under consideration, too.

While the rear-engined layout pays homage to the Beetle, it’s partly been chosen to meet the latest pedestrian safety rules. The only way designers could achieve an adequate crumple zone while maintaining tiny dimensions was to put the unit at the back.

As well as the three-door in our pictures, VW has plans for a five-door version. Incredibly, it will sit on exactly the same wheelbase, and will be no taller than the three-door, either. An MPV version – as previewed by the Space up! at January’s Los Angeles Motor Show – will also join the range, while there are plans for a hybrid as well. What’s more, the groundbreaking up! platform won’t only come wearing a Volkswagen badge – it’s also set to spawn a host of other VW Group pro-ducts (see panel, below).

The up! will be the first version to go on sale, however, with a basic car designed for emerging markets such as China, India and Russia costing from as little as £4,000. A more luxurious variant for European buyers will get goodies such as climate control, and carry a price tag of around £7,500.

The final, production-ready up! is expected to make its world debut at a major motor show next year.

Extra Info

...And Skoda, SEAT join the party

IT’S difficult to underestimate the important role the up! will play in the future of the VW Group – because the innovative rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive platform will underpin new city cars from brands across the family.

First up is a micro-car from Skoda, which will be its first rear-engined model since the Estelle. Given Skoda’s desire to go its own way in terms of design, the new entry-level machine is likely to benefit from a markedly different shape to the up! It is expected to debut around a year or so after the VW reaches showrooms.

Meanwhile, a small car based on the up! will fill the gap left in the SEAT line-up when the Arosa was axed in 2004. Expect to see it debut at around the same time as the Skoda version, with both models getting the same VW-developed two-cylinder petrol and diesel engines as the up!

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