We drive the facelifted Up city car here in the UK
The clever and classy Volkswagen Up city car is one of the best urban runabouts you can buy. If there’s one thing it’s lacked up to now, it’s been the engine power to fully do justice to its top-notch drive. 59bhp or 74bhp doesn’t go far when a car is otherwise this much fun to drive.
But now, Volkswagen has facelifted the Up – and answered calls for more power. It’s done this by adding a turbocharger to the existing 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which takes power up to 89bhp. More significantly, it has a hefty 70% more torque, and the 0-62mph time has plunged by more than three seconds to 9.9sec.
Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI High Up
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Kerb weight 1002kg
Top speed: 114mph
Fuel economy: 64.2mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 108g/km
On the road, the differences are stark. It powers on strongly even from really low engine revs. You don’t have to build up momentum like you do in the non-turbo cars, and we also like the off-beat growl it makes while doing so. So well-rounded is the new engine, you don’t even need to rev it all the way through. Keep the rev counter in the middle of its range for the best response.
The extra power makes it even more fun on twisting roads. The chassis easily handles the extra power – indeed, it’s so talented, we’re very pleased to hear Volkswagen is considering a 113bhp GTI version. In town, it’s as perfect as before for tight city streets, with light steering and a slick gearbox. It’s just a pity you can’t (yet) get an automatic with this new TSI engine.
Only the ride suffered on our test car. It was wearing the fancy new 17-inch alloy wheels Volkswagen is offering. They’re stylish, but they make it stiffer and noisier. We’d stick with the smaller standard wheels. There’s even a fuel economy benefit if you do so. Not that this has exactly plunged with the new turbo engine, mind. 64.2mpg is more than acceptable given the extra power.
We tested the Up in ‘High Up’ spec, which also added air con, Bluetooth, heated front seats and a leather steering wheel. A new feature is a five-inch touchscreen infotainment system, that pairs with smartphones and brings added connectivity to the Up.
Both three-door and five-door Ups are offered, and the latter is most appealing as the Up remains an impressively roomy car considering its size. You can get two adults in the rear and even the boot space is reasonable.
The icing on the cake is the fact this improved and even better Up is only a few hundred pounds more than the old one. It’s significantly improved and is now even more appealing beyond the city limits it preciously excelled in. Looking for the perfect compact budget all-rounder? This should definitely be at the top of your shopping list.