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In-depth reviews

Volkswagen up! review - Engines, performance and drive

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

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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. 

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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 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.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed 

It may be dinky but with the 1.0-litre engine under the up!'s bonnet producing just 64bhp, 0-62mph takes an arduous 15.6 seconds while the top speed stands at 101mph. The now-discontinued GTI version produced 113bhp from the same engine and achieved the same sprint in a more impressive 8.8 seconds as well as a 122mph top speed.

The fully 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. 

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 Take Up 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £8,525

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 Take Up 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £8,525

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 115PS Up GTI 3dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £18,050
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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