It’s fair to say that there’s never been a car quite like the VW up!. The refinement, practicality and quality on offer wouldn’t be out of place in a bigger, pricier car. Some trim levels make more sense than others, however, so it’s worth having a careful look at prices and running costs before taking the plunge.
On every other occasion we’ve tested it, the VW up! has walked away with full marks, but this is the first time we’ve driven a final European-spec car on UK roads. So can it keep up its perfect run of form?
Even before you turn the key, it’s easy to see why the up! performs so consistently well. Our High model gets a classy cabin with a gloss-red dash and top-quality switches and dials.
Video: Watch CarBuyer's video review of the VW up!
But the really impressive thing about the up! is the way it drives, especially for a car in this class.Power comes from a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that offers 74bhp – although a 59bhp version is also available – and refinement is excellent compared to class rivals.
The three-cylinder engine settles to a near-silent idle, yet when you accelerate hard, there’s a great noise from under the bonnet that encourages you to use all of the rev range.
Car group tests
Used car tests
Going from 0-62mph takes a leisurely 13.2 seconds, but if you keep the up! at high revs, it feels much punchier than the figures suggest.
The ride is a mixed bag. It’s quite firm over speed bumps and other urban hazards, plus the body pitches and dives quite a lot. Out of town, though, it flows over rutted roads with ease. Although some rivals are more comfortable, none handles quite as well, too.
Running costs are impressively low. Our High model is the least efficient in the range, yet still emits only 108g/km of CO2 and claims 60.1mpg economy. The BlueMotion version is the cleanest, emitting just 96g/km.
On top of all that, the up! is surprisingly practical: adults fit in the rear seats and there’s a class-leading 251 litres of boot space.
We wouldn’t recommend you buy this High model, though. The sub 100g/km and road tax-exempt BlueMotion Technology Move up! is the pick of the range, and it starts at only £9,330.
Cars in this competitive class are frequently compromised in one way or another, but you have to search long and hard
for any downsides to the up!.
It’s not quite perfect, but it’s as close as you’ll get to it in a city car starting at £7,995.