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View all Volkswagen Up reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
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Which Volkswagen Up is best for me?

  • E-Up for the cheapest running costs
  • 60hp 1.0-litre petrol for the cheapest up front cost
  • Up GTI for performance car thrills on a budget

VW Up range

For the cheapest Up, your best bet is the 60hp 1.0-litre manual version. However, note that without stop-start, the list price may be cheaper but the fuel consumption and emissions will be higher. With this in mind, we’d stretch to the 60hp 1.0-litre stop-start model if at all possible.

Those looking to minimise their fuel consumption and CO2 output should looks towards the 60hp 1.0-litre ASG automatic version with stop-start. This returns up to 68.9mpg and produces 85g/km of CO2.

Performance fans will be drawn towards the Up GTI. Good for 115hp and 200Nm of torque, it’s spritely enough and gives enormous thrills on a twisty road with eager, agile handling.  

 


 

Volkswagen Ups we’ve tested

Volkswagen Up GTI 5dr

(Tested Feburary 2018)

Volkswagen Up GTI

This is the most powerful, most driver-focused version of VW’s smallest model, the Up city car.

While lesser Ups focus on being easy to drive, affordable and practical, the GTI’s remit is to be just as fun to drive as bigger Volkswagen GTIs, in a cheaper, more back-to-basics format.

Lightweight Up GTI surprisingly fun to drive

Thanks to its small dimensions, the Up GTI is very lightweight at less than 1,000kg, while its tiny turbocharged 1.0-litre engine punches out a decent 115hp. This punts it to 62mph in a nippy 8.8 seconds.

As a result, this Up is a car you can push hard on UK roads without worrying about breaking the speed limit. We’ve driven VW’s smallest hot hatch across the Brecon Beacons and into the Cotswolds, and it felt right at home on these small, winding roads.

With less power and smaller dimensions than pricier hot hatches, it’s easy to get the most from the Up. The engine fires up with an offbeat thrum – thanks to its tally of just three cylinders – and builds in volume as you work it harder.

Small turbocharged engine punches above its weight

The deep burble from under the bonnet adds to the GTI’s sense of occasion – as it’s been tuned it to create an almost muscle-car style roar. Keep the engine in the top half of the rev counter and you get strong pull from the small engine, though at lower engine speeds it can take a second to pick up.

The steering, meanwhile, is direct enough to give you confidence in normal driving, though if you’re used to driving older performance cars you may want for a greater sense of how much grip the front tyres have through the wheel.

Up GTI happiest on smaller roads

Smooth, twisty roads get the best from the Up, and if you make use of the reasonably slick gearbox, it’s easy to dart around country roads surprisingly quickly. Hit faster roads, however, or push the GTI harder and the body rolls more than you’d expect for such a small car, setting this out as a city car first and sports car second.

Adding to that feeling are flat seats that don’t hold you in place that well or offer much back support, while the wind and road noise levels remind you you’re in a city car. It’s hardly bad, but if you’re used to a supermini like the larger Polo or Fiesta, you’ll probably notice the difference.

With large 17-inch alloy wheels and just a tiny amount of rubber separating you from the tarmac, the ride is firm on UK roads. It’s fine on smooth tarmac, though bumps in the surface shudder their way into the cabin. Due to its lightness the Up seems to skim over bumps, but it could be a little more settled on rough roads.

Up Beats 1.0 TSI 90PS 5d

(Tested January 2017)

VW Up Beats 1.0 TSI 90PS 5d

The VW Up Beats is a special edition of the little city car featuring an uprated sound system with 300 watts of output, a subwoofer, six speakers, and plenty of individual styling.

Rivals include the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo and the Ford Ka – all available for less money – but only the Up features this powerful Beats stereo.

Volkswagen claims the only thing better in music terms is to watch your favourite band live – however, as fun and characterful as the Up Beats is, is it really worth the extra expense?

Upbeat driving

Driving the Up Beats is fun and surprisingly nippy. Our engine - the new 90hp, 1.0-litre TSI petrol - is as suited to town-to-city commutes and traffic jams as a weekend jolly on countryside back roads.

The three-cylinder engine is perky and sounds throaty – a bit like the Fiat 500 Twin Air. It picks up well and holds its own on dual carriageways, while zooming around city streets happily.

What equipment do you get?

  • 15-inch alloy wheels with body-matching black or red centre caps
  • Red or black door mirrors with Beats logo on B-pillar
  • Tinted rear glass
  • Beats colour stripe on door panel, matching door mirrors
  • Hill-hold function
  • 5.0-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity
  • Beats Audio sound system, with 300-watt output, six speakers, and subwoofer
  • Beats upholstery and door sill protectors, leather-trimmed wheel
  • City Emergency Braking system

Verdict

There were a couple of niggles that spoiled our overall enjoyment – there’s no footrest for your left foot, despite there being room to accommodate one, and the driver’s sun visor mirror didn’t have a cover, meaning your reflection distracts you. But these are small annoyances in an overall fab little car.

Does this city car beat its rivals? Essentially no; you’re paying a lot more money for the Beats style and a slightly better engine, and we’re not convinced you’ll notice the latter if you’re mainly a city driver.

We’d recommend getting a normal Up, unless you really want the Beats stereo and styling.

 


High Up 1.0 BMT 75PS 5dr

(Tested November 2016)

VW High Up 1.0 BMT 75PS 5dr

You’ll be hard-pressed to spot the differences, but the sophisticated and chic Volkswagen Up has undergone a minor makeover. New lights, reprofiled bumpers and a revised dashboard are the main attractions here, so nothing to make owners of the original feel too ‘last season’ about their cars.

Non-turbo engine is great in cities, not bad out of them

VW has introduced a new, perked-up turbocharged version of the 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine. It develops 90hp for its smallest model, but this one’s propelled by the 75hp, non-turbo edition of the motor.

Its power peak’s not reached until 6,200rpm meaning the engine has to be worked quite hard once you’re out of the city limits in order to maximise performance. But it does so with a characterful thrum, rather than raucous pleas for mercy.

A top speed of 106mph and a 0-62mph acceleration time of 13.5 seconds hardly sound inspiring, but it’s more than enough for urban journeys. It is also quick enough to complete overtaking manoeuvres on major roads safely, once you’ve dropped a cog or two on the slick five-speed manual gearbox.

Officially the VW Up will average 68.9mpg, but our test produced a more realistic figure of 55mpg over an array of road types and speeds. Standard BlueMotion Technology (BMT) includes a start-stop function, pegging the CO2 emissions at 96g/km – so zero VED car tax cost at 2016/17 rates.

High by name and stature

Three rungs up the trim ladder, this High Up weighs-in with a hefty price tag for a car of this size. At least there’s a generous sprinkling of standard equipment for your money:

  • Manual air conditioning with heated front seats for chillier mornings
  • Electric door mirrors and front windows – the rear ones pop out rather than wind down
  • LED day-running lights and halogen front fog lights
  • Colour infotainment display with smartphone cradle and dash-top USB port with cable

Verdict

Although the VW Up remains one of the best city cars you can buy, it’s harder to justify spending such a pumped-up sum here, especially when the mechanically and (almost) visually identical SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo can be had with much of the same kit for less outlay.

Yes, the VW is tarted up with a few stylish touches that its less expensive siblings lack. It’s undoubtedly better to drive and more practical than the similarly priced Fiat 500. though. But most buyers at this end of the market demand value for money above other factors.

If it must be the VW, then opt for the less pricey Move Up at £10,245, but be aware you’re restricted to the weaker 60hp engine.

 


 

High Up 1.0 TSI 90PS 5dr

(Tested July 2016)

VW High Up 1.0 TSI 90PS 5dr

Volkswagen has updated its smallest model, the Up, which was launched in 2012 and is nearly identical under the skin to the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo.

Hoping to sway buyers, Volkswagen has sharpened its city car’s styling, upped the number of personalisation options and introduced a more powerful turbocharged 1.0-litre engine.

More power, more performance

The big change with the Up comes in the new, brawnier motor. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine is no larger than before, but thanks to a turbocharger, power jumps to 90hp.

As a result, the Up 1.0-litre TSI 90 can sprint to 62mph in 9.9 seconds – a substantial 3.6 seconds faster than the 75hp model. Claimed fuel economy, meanwhile, falls from 68.9mpg to 64.2mpg. Consequently, the 1.0-litre TSI is no longer free to tax, but annual bills come in at a mere £20.

Up to par on faster roads

The turbocharger makes the Up much happier on faster roads, though long gears mean you often need to be in a lower gear than you expect. Fail to change down and the small motor struggles, with vibrations making themselves felt in the cabin.

The slick gearbox and easy clutch mean that swapping cogs is no hardship, though. The steering is similarly well judged – light enough to make the car easy to drive, but providing a good sense of control.

Work the engine harder, however, and it’s more than punchy enough, emitting an eager thrum – though it’s barely audible with gentler driving. Meanwhile, very low road, wind and engine noise levels mean that, despite its city car billing, Up owners needn’t be put off by long motorway journeys.

The suspension set-up provides a similarly big-car feel, proving a little firm on rough tarmac, but giving a comfortable ride. The seats also offer good back and side support for a small car, though the wheel doesn’t adjust in and out and we wished it came out further.

Downsized on the outside, upsized on the inside

Interior space remains very impressive for a car of this size. Access to the rear seats is particularly easy in five-door models – something the Fiat 500 can’t offer. The boot is reasonably large – with a variable-height load floor making it easy to load, with plenty of space underneath for larger items.

Quality levels also feel very high for a city car, with clear analogue dials and durable-feeling materials. Up/down buttons for the air-conditioning feel unnecessarily clunky compared with simple rotary dials, however.

We also found the smartphone sat-nav option a bit crude. The software featured a very mechanical-sounding voice, with the map sometimes lagging behind our location. The option of in-car sat-nav without having to pay for an optional in-dash system is a big selling point on such an affordable car, though.

Order books for the Up opened at the end of July 2016, with cars arriving from September 1. Prices start at £8,995 for the 60hp model, with the 90hp range-topper costing above £12,000.

Standard kit on the mid-range Move Up now includes:

  • Remote central locking
  • LED day-running lights
  • DAB digital radio
  • USB port

Should I buy one?

Volkswagen has added a new dose of style to the Up’s sensible city car credentials, making it more appealing than ever – with its spacious cabin and boot, comfortable ride and economical engines. The turbocharged 1.0-litre engine also works well in such a small car.

However, bearing in mind this model’s starting price of above £12,000, many drivers will be better served by the cheaper 60hp or 75hp models, the latter of which offers more than adequate speed if you’re willing to work the engine a little harder.

Verdict

Although the VW Up remains one of the best city cars you can buy, it’s harder to justify spending such a pumped-up sum here, especially when the mechanically and (almost) visually identical SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo can be had with much of the same kit for less outlay.

Yes, the VW is tarted up with a few stylish touches that its less expensive siblings lack. It’s undoubtedly better to drive and more practical than the similarly priced Fiat 500. though. But most buyers at this end of the market demand value for money above other factors.

If it must be the VW, then opt for the less pricey Move Up at £10,245, but be aware you’re restricted to the weaker 60hp engine.

 


VW E-Up

(Tested January 2014)

VW E-Up

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, the Volkswagen e-Up is an electric version of the popular Up city car.

Instead of the usual 1.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet there’s an 80bhp AC electric motor. That’s powered by a battery pack mounted in the car’s floor which takes around nine hours to fully charge from flat via a household 230-volt supply. Using a faster wallbox charger it takes six hours.

Two charging cables are supplied with the e-Up, stowed in a compartment under the boot floor. One can connect to a standard three-pin socket and the other to a larger Combined Charging System DC socket for faster charging – up to 80 percent charge from flat in 30 minutes, according to VW.

Boot space itself is not greatly different from the regular Up thanks to the batteries’ low position in the floor, although there’s no longer space for a spare wheel – the e-Up gets a tyre foam and inflator kit instead.

Although the regular Up is available with either three or five doors, all e-Up versions have a five-door body and one equipment level based on the range-topping ‘High Up’ petrol car.

That means there’s plenty of kit as standard including cruise control, heated seats and VW’s ‘Maps & More’ portable sat-nav and multimedia unit.

The e-Up also gets a few extra toys of its own as standard including climate control, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, a heated windscreen and a low-speed automatic emergency braking system. It’s still missing audio controls on the steering wheel, though.

How does it feel to drive?

As with the majority of electric cars it’s very quiet and glides away silently from rest. It’s a testament to the regular Up’s soundproofing and general refinement that once you’ve picked up speed there’s very little audible road or wind noise, even at dual carriageway speeds – especially impressive given that Volkswagen says there have been no extra soundproofing measures added to the e-Up.

Although the e-Up is a fair bit heavier than its petrol siblings (the battery pack weighs a hefty 230kg) it retains their neat handling characteristics. In fact, if anything the e-Up is more fun to drive than the petrol version thanks to the electric motor’s greater torque (210Nm versus 95Nm for the top petrol car) which means there’s sprightlier acceleration on tap.

The battery pack’s position makes for a low centre of gravity, which means the e-Up can still tackle corners with reasonable agility and the already excellent ride quality over bumps is actually even better.

Perhaps the biggest credit that can be paid to the electric Up is just how ordinary it feels on the road. Lack of engine noise apart, it doesn’t feel hugely different from its petrol counterpart.

Not at home on the range

One important area in which it does feel different, however, is that old electric car chestnut: range anxiety.

While it’ll happily cruise at 70mph, that does mean the indicated range diminishes at an alarming rate. At that road speed it’s almost possible to see the needle on the battery energy gauge (in the usual fuel gauge’s place on the instrument panel) swing downwards with the naked eye.

According to the display, our 30-mile test drive drained more than half of the batteries’ power. In fairness, that was over a route with an extended amount of dual carriageway running at 60mph or more (in and around the 50mph bracket is the e-Up’s sweet spot for energy consumption) and the test took place on a cold winter’s day, which reduces the batteries’ effectiveness. Furthermore the air-conditioning was turned up and so, occasionally, was the heated driver’s seat.

Volkswagen suggests an estimated range of between 74 and 102 miles in summer and between 49 and 75 miles in winter.

To help the e-Up consume as little energy as possible, there are three selectable driving modes: Standard, Eco and Eco+. Eco limits the motor’s power, dampens the accelerator response and restricts the air-con system, while Eco+ further limits the power and completely disables the heating and air-con.

There are also five levels of regenerative braking, where the electric motor slows the car when the accelerator pedal is lifted and converts the energy used in the process to partially recharge the battery.

The three most powerful modes cause the brake lights to be triggered when lifting from the accelerator; in fact, the most extreme mode creates a really quite powerful braking effect, and you frequently find yourself driving the car using one pedal only.

Of course, when the battery is full there’s no regenerative braking effect. Particularly crafty e-Up owners with a hilly commute could charge the battery to 80 percent or so through the night and then make up the rest of the charge on downhill stretches on the way to work.

 


 

High Up 75hp 1.0 TSI 5d

(Tested January 2014)

VW High Up 75hp 1.0 TSI 5d

The Volkswagen Up has been an all-round success for VW but prices start to climb quite rapidly as you reach the top end of the trim scale.

Overpriced or good value for money? We take a drive in the top-level ‘High’ trim (top of the range except for the special editions) to see if it’s worth the steep price tag.

Is it well equipped?

As the car on test is the top trim you would expect it to come well-equipped, and so it does. The highlights from the long standard specification list include heated seats, remote central locking, uprated sound pack with four additional speakers, manual air conditioning, alloy wheels, leather interior touches and electric windows.

Also included is Volkswagen’s Maps & More navigation and infotainment system which comes with lots of useful features including Bluetooth, sat-nav, a trip computer display and a ‘Think Blue’ eco driving tool (below) which encourages you to drive more economically.

Also, if you are running low on fuel a warning will appear on the screen which offers to navigate you to the closest petrol station, which is pretty handy.

Considering all the kit this car comes with, we were surprised to see it misses out on other luxuries such as automatic lights and window wipers, a USB port and even mirrors in the visors. There are also no controls on the steering wheel, for the stereo volume for example, which is disappointing.

What’s it like to drive?

The Up is surprisingly spacious inside and the controls are simply laid out and easy to navigate. There is a good amount of storage space for front passengers with a couple of cup holders, a reasonable sized glove box and some small pockets in the door. It’s a bit of a squeeze in the back though, and the lack of legroom will make long journeys uncomfortable for adults and teenagers.

Also fitted to this model is a variable-height boot floor for additional practicality and the rear seats fold down easily to expand the boot volume from 251 litres to 951 litres of space.

Volkswagen Up boot

Although on paper the Up's performance doesn’t look very impressive with a 0-62mph time of 13.2 seconds and 73bhp available, these figures don’t really do the little car justice.

Nippy and agile, the Up's 1.0-litre petrol engine feels quick when climbing from 0-30mph and once it gathers speed the car feels light yet sturdy on the road. Light steering and soft suspension make for a comfortable and fun drive although the engine is a little noisy, especially on the motorway.

This car has an official average fuel consumption figure of 60.1mpg and on a 160-mile round trip, which included a majority of motorway roads, the Up managed 50mpg. On more rural roads we can see this improving to around 55mpg - very impressive. Carbon dioxide emissions are not as commendable, though, at 108g/km leaving the Up trailing the competition.

 


 

Take Up 1.0 TSI 60hp 3d

(Tested July 2013)

VW Take Up 1.0 TSI 60hp 3d

The Up range as a whole is divided into three main versions: the Take Up, the Move Up and the High Up. The entry level three-door, four-seater Take is as basic as it gets with a manual locking system, wind-down windows and no air conditioning.

Highlights from the standard features list include cup holders, interior lighting, radio with an auxiliary port, heated rear windscreen and power-assisted steering. Additional equipment is not too expensive though. The optional dashboard-mounted ‘Maps & More’ navigation and infotainment device, for example, is particularly well priced.

When it comes to driving, the Up is suited perfectly to city environments with light steering and accurate handling. There is 59bhp and 95Nm of torque on offer, helping to produce a 0-62mph time of 14.4 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. Fuel economy is competitive at 62mpg combined but CO2 emissions are far from class-leading at 105g/km.

The car takes its time to gain speed and is a little noisy when pushed but the engine is fairly smooth at cruising speeds. Parking is also easy because of the Up’s compact dimensions.  Other small cars in the sector could be accused of being a little bland when it comes to looks but the Up is a little more exciting to look at, and from some angles, even quite cute.

The small exterior dimensions are deceptive as opening the tailgate reveals a surprisingly deep boot with easily enough room for a weekly shop or weekend away with 251 litres available. This expands to 951litres with the back seats folded, although unfortunately the basic Take trim misses out on the variable-height boot floor available in the trims above.

 


Volkswagen Up model history

  • First produced in 2012
  • Vast array of trims and special editions
  • Likely due for replacement in 2019/2020

VW Up history

March 2012 – All-new Volkswagen Up city car available to order in three and five-door form with three trim levels plus two special editions from launch. Trim levels consist of Take Up, Move Up, High Up, plus special edition Up Black and Up White versions. Two 1.0-litre petrol engines on offer, with power outputs of 60 and 75hp

July 2013 – Groove Up and Rock Up special edition models available to launch in the UK. Both versions are based on the premium High Up spec. The Groove Up adds a Fender sound system (plus heated seats, sat-nav and Bluetooth phone connectivity), while the Rock Up (three-door only) brings a sporty black body kit, Deep Black Pearl paintwork and 16-inch Upsilon alloy wheels. Both versions come with a 75hp 1.0-litre three cylinder engine and a five-speed manual gearbox

January 2014 – All-electric E-Up launches in the UK in five-door form only. With a claimed range of 93 miles, its electric motor produces 82hp, enough for a 0-62mph time of 14 seconds. Other differences from standard Up models include 15-inch machine polished alloy wheels, Volkswagen emblems with blue backgrounds, light-grey seat covers with blue top-stitched seams, plus special leather and chrome accents

March 2015 – Order books open for Street Up and Club Up models. Both models are based on the top-spec High Up trim. Street Up versions add 16-inch Upsilon alloy wheels, a choice of three paint colours, bodywork decals and a customised interior with black roof lining and individual cloth upholstery. Club Up models add 16-inch Triangle alloy wheels, standard Blueberry metallic or Black Pearl paint, tinted glass, silver wing mirrors and unique Club Tartan Tonic cloth upholstery

January 2016 – Look Up spec joins the range, coming as standard with 15-inch Fortaleza alloy wheels, revised interior trim, black wing mirror casings and black foil decals. Powered exclusively by the 60hp 1.0-litre three cylinder engine

February 2016 – Up Beats edition launches as part of tie-in with audio specialists Beats Electronics. Additional standard equipment includes 300-watt 8-channel amplifiers with seven loudspeakers, 15-inch Radial alloy wheels, a multifunction steering wheel plus Beats exterior and interior detailing

July 2016 – Up receives mid-life facelift. Turbocharged 90hp 1.0-litre TSI engine is added to the range, plus equipment is also upgraded. All models now include Volkswagen Composition Media System, electric front windows and remote central locking

October 2016 – E-Up receives update, with revised interior and exterior styling plus a new infotainment system. Range is increased to 99 miles, while 0-62mph comes down to 12.4 seconds.

February 2018 – GTI with a turbocharged 115hp 1.0-litre engine available to order in both three- and five-door forms

Buying and selling the Volkswagen Up

  • No shortage of examples or dealers
  • Reasonable cash and finance offers
  • Three-year warranty as standard

Buying a new Volkswagen Up hatchback

VW Up new

Volkswagen finance deals are solid, although stay clear of some of the pricier special edition Up models. The best value comes from the reasonably well-equipped Move Up version, with standard-fit air-con, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity.

For particularly safety conscious buyers, the optional City emergency braking pack (similar to autonomous emergency braking) is capable of automatically braking the vehicle if a potential collision is detection.

Lower-powered versions will be popular with young drivers thanks to their lower insurance group, however your money is best spent on the punchier 75 and 90hp versions. Stop-start technology is always well worth the initial outlay, and will save you money on fuel bills in the long run, especially if you do lots or urban driving. 

 


 

Buying a used Volkswagen Up hatchback

  • Plenty of used examples…
  • …means you can afford to be picky about your preferred spec
  • Many pre-April 2017 petrol models will attract zero VED tax

VW Up used

Rest assured that there will be plenty of choice out there if you’re on the lookout for a petrol-powered Volkswagen Up. Be picky with finding a car that meets your desired spec and don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if you have any doubts. Allay any lingering fears with a Parkers Car History Check, which will reveal if the vehicle you’re looking at is hiding any outstanding finance or past write-offs.

Also bear in mind that due to the Up’s low insurance group and cheap running costs, a large proportion of the owners will be first time or inexperienced drivers. Therefore, look closely for light scuffs on the bodywork or kerb marks on the alloy wheels. Furthermore, check for any signs that the car hasn’t suffered from being run on a budget. Missing services and budget tyres will be tell-tale signs of this.

Finally, a number of pre-April 2017 cars will be exempt from annual road tax so keep an eye out for these. It’s entirely feasible that you could be looking at two identical cars that were originally sold either side of April 2017, and thus attracting different road tax rates. 


 Selling your Volkswagen Up hatchback

  • Shouldn’t be any shortage of demand
  • Take plenty of good photos if selling privately
  • Highlight any optional extras that aren’t standard

When it comes to selling your Volkswagen Up you won’t be short of interested parties. Play this to your advantage and be firm when it comes to your asking price, safe in the knowledge that another buyer willing to pay more shouldn’t be far around the corner. Use the Parkers Car Valuation tool to get an accurate price for your vehicle and strengthen your negotiating hand. 

Be sure to highlight any optional extras that weren’t standard on the car from new, including sought-after gadgets such as air-con, Bluetooth and cruise control.  

Remember to get scuffs or scrapes repaired and make sure the alloy wheels – if fitted – are in tip-top condition. Finally, take plenty of good photographs and list a concise, informative advert.

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