City Car of the Year 2019: Volkswagen up!
The Volkswagen up! is the 2019 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
Not much has changed in the city car class, so last year’s winner retains its crown in 2019: the best city car you can buy is still the Volkswagen up!.
There is a fairly wide range of engines for a city car, and whichever one you go for, you can be sure it’s a good choice. The entry-level 59bhp model is perfectly adequate for a compact hatch and fun to use. If you want more power and better motorway manners, the 74bhp version of this naturally aspirated unit might be worth a look, while there’s an 89bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged model, too.
Then there’s the 113bhp up! GTI, which is brilliant fun to drive and surprisingly quick for such a small model. It’s as much fun as you can have for city-car money and the driver’s favourite, but any up! will give plenty of enjoyment. This lightweight car has good body control, grip and agility, so even the more basic versions are great to drive.
The up! is in its element around town, because it has excellent visibility, as well as light steering, a precise manual gearshift (an auto box is available as an option, but the manual is best) and a compact footprint.
You can choose between three and five-door models, but it’s the latter we’d go for, given that a little extra money buys much more flexibility. In fact, the up! is roomy inside and seats four passengers in comfort, while its 251-litre boot is surprisingly useful for a tiny car as well. As a result, it’s even more practical than some superminis.
It’s a refined little car, too. Although the up! is very much at home in the urban jungle, it’s great for motorway trips as well. And with claimed fuel economy of up to 67mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 95g/km, it should work out to be every bit as cost-effective to run as it is to buy.
Finally, the intuitive and simple controls for the in-car tech and infotainment add to the VW’s ease of use and are the icing on a small but perfectly formed cake, with satellite navigation provided via an app on a smartphone which is held by the handy mount on the dashboard.
Volkswagen up! 1.0 75 S/S High up! 5dr (£13,120)
We recommend the slightly more powerful 74bhp engine with High up! trim, because it comes with upmarket technology like cruise control and autonomous braking to boost safety. It’s worth choosing a five-door model, which is more practical, yet won’t break the bank thanks to the whole range being so affordable. PCP deals make this even more attractive.
Kia’s latest Picanto is nearly as practical and refined as the up!, but can’t quite match the VW for agility or quality. Still, the new 1.0-litre turbo petrol is surprisingly quick, and it’s great fun to use while still being economical, adding even more choice. The Picanto is really well equipped, too.
The Citigo is largely the same as the up!, with just as much versatility, practicality and fun on offer as in the VW. Fewer engine options – there are no turbo models – mean that there isn’t as much choice as with the up!, but it’s still great value.
Auto Express New Car Awards 2019
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- 1IntroductionWhat are the best new cars to buy in the UK today? The 2019 New Car Awards have the answer...
- 2Car of the YearThe Auto Express Car of the Year for 2019 is the all-electric Tesla Model 3
- 3City Car of the Year - currently readingThe Volkswagen up! is the 2019 Auto Express City Car of the Year, with the Kia Picanto and Skoda Citigo commended
- 4Supermini of the YearThe Ford Fiesta is the 2019 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the MINI 5-door and SEAT Ibiza commended
- 5Convertible of the YearThe MINI Convertible is the 2019 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the Audi A3 Cabriolet and Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet commended
- 6Compact Family Car of the YearThe Skoda Scala is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Family Car of the Year, with the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla commended
- 7Family Car of the YearThe Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport is the 2019 Auto Express Family Car of the Year, with the Skoda Superb and Toyota Prius commended
- 8Compact Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 3 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Compact Executive Car of the Year, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-Class commended
- 9Executive Car of the YearThe BMW 5 Series is the 2019 Auto Express Executive Car of the Year, with the Mercedes E-Class and Volvo S90 commended
- 10Estate Car of the YearThe Skoda Octavia Estate is the 2019 Auto Express Estate Car of the Year, with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Volvo V60 commended