Twin Test: Zero Tax City Cars

  • Our latest twin test sees style take on substance
  • Both cars qualify for free road tax but which would we pick?
  • Driving fun, practicality and running costs all considered

It’s a classic case of style versus substance as we pit Volkswagen’s sensible city car against Fiat’s chic Mini rival. Both qualify for free road tax, but which would we pick?

VW UP 1.0 Bluemotion Tech Move Up 3d (95g/km) vs Fiat 500 0.9 TwinAir Pop (95g/km)


It’s only a one-litre engine and in this particular guise produces just 59bhp so it’s no traffic light drag racer. It uses a five-speed manual gearbox that has a smooth shift action and makes the most of what power is there. Around town the Up does feel zippy though on the open road less so.

Fiat's 500 TwinAir

The Fiat 500 was first launched in 2008 and it was the arrival of the small 0.9 TwinAir engine that really brought competitive running costs. It is more powerful than the Up (with 85bhp) and both around town and on the open road it counts. It feels quicker and more at home motorway cruising than the Up.


Clearly city cars are never going  to be the most practical but the Up really does make the most of its space. There’s plenty  of space up front for even tall passengers while  two  adults would be fine for a short trip. Storage areas are a little sparse with just one cup holder up front and the boot has a useful 251 litres of space.

In the 500, two passengers up front get decent amount of space but the same isn’t true behind the front seats. Leg and head space is restricted  so long distance comfort for grown-ups is not great. Boot space is smaller than the Up at 185 litres and, just like the Up, the rear seats fold to create more load space.


The benefit of the lower output of the Up is improved fuel consumption. Offcial figure is 68mpg so reasonable careful driving should see a real world figure of mid to high 50s. Road tax is a big fat zero for both first year and subsequent years at current rates. Service is every 10k miles or year depending on which comes first.

Despite the extra power  the Fiat 500 not only matches the Up for free car tax, both in its first year and on-going, but also for fuel consumption. The offcial figure is 68mpg so again a mix of driving should see around mid to high 50s. Steady cruising will see that figure go higher.


  Volkswagen Up Fiat 500






Fuel Capacity:

VED Car Tax:

Insurance Group:


Boot capacity:

1.0 petrol

five-speed manual

59 bhp

13.9 seconds

68 mpg

35 litres

£0 (Band A)



251 litres

0.9 petrol

five-speed manual

85 bhp

10.6 seconds

68 mpg

35 litres

£0 (Band A)



185 litres


Fiat 500 TwinAir – Winner

The VW Up made a big impact when it first launch. It was a small car with big car aspirations  and it certainly wasn’t a budget VW by any means. The quality fit and finish matches that of many of the larger Volkswagen cars. The Up doesn’t come cheap but you get a quality city car.

The Fiat 500 can’t match the Up for boot space or build quality, but it does offer a much more spritely performance and it’s a popular buy especially with younger drivers. Given that it is a dead heat in terms of cost, the Fiat shades a win thanks to a more rewarding drive.