In-depth reviews

Volkswagen up! review - Engines, performance and drive

The limited choice of engines takes nothing away from the entertainment on offer

The small size of the up! means it lends itself perfectly to navigating the narrow streets and tight car parks, so it fits the brief of a city car very well. The tight turning circle makes it particularly good for nipping in and out of traffic and it’s a doddle to park. 

The VW's chassis delivers a superior level of grip. The up! is a genuinely entertaining little car to drive, and allows you to carry more speed into corners than you might imagine or than its rivals can manage.

This precision is matched by a level of refinement and composure that just shades the recently launched Kia Picanto. At idle the engine isn’t quite as smooth as the Kia’s, and it’s a little noisier when revved, but drive sensibly in town and on the motorway at a cruise, and the VW is easy to get on with and more refined than the Picanto.

Harsh jolts do upset the VW’s chassis, but that’s no surprise. The up! deals with these intrusions adeptly and smooths out poorer surfaces more competently than the Picanto at lower speeds. At higher speeds the damping feels more plush, with well controlled reactions to bumps.

Engines

The 64bhp 1.0-litre up! manages 0-62mph in 15.6 seconds, with a top speed of 101mph, while the 113bhp GTI version achieves the same sprint in a more impressive 8.8 seconds and a 122mph maximum.

The electric e-up! model is zippy around town and almost as fun to drive as the petrol models, but is more at home at slower speeds. It starts to feel out of its depth on the motorway, while faster driving runs down the electric range more quickly. 

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 Take Up 3dr [Start Stop]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £9,320

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 Take Up 3dr [Start Stop]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £9,320

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 115PS Up GTI 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £15,275

Most Popular

'Just because impressive tech is available, it shouldn’t necessarily be installed in cars'
Opinion tech
Opinion

'Just because impressive tech is available, it shouldn’t necessarily be installed in cars'

Mike Rutherford says designers, car makers and politicians need to consult motorists more often
16 May 2021
New 2022 Dacia Bigster to move budget brand into large SUV market
Dacia Bigster - front (watermarked)
Dacia

New 2022 Dacia Bigster to move budget brand into large SUV market

The Dacia Bigster SUV will arrive with value in mind, but hybrid tech will also appear. Our exclusive images preview how it could look
14 May 2021
New 2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe specs confirmed ahead of summer launch
BMW 2 Series Coupe - exclusive image
BMW 2 Series Coupe

New 2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe specs confirmed ahead of summer launch

The new BMW 2 Series Coupe will be aimed at keen drivers, with the M240i model offering four-wheel drive and a 369bhp straight-six engine. Our exclusi…
17 May 2021