Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4
  • Single petrol engine for regular Up models
  • Plus a 115hp petrol for the Up GTI
  • And an 82hp electric motor fitted to the E-Up

Petrol engines

There are just two petrol engines available in the Volkswagen Up, one for the regular models and another reserved for the sporty GTI version.

All the regular Ups share the same 1.0-litre engine, producing a modest 65hp. That means a slow 0-62mph time of 15.6 seconds, but in truth, it’s nippy enough for driving around town. It’s paired with a smooth five-speed manual gearbox, too. Unfortunately, that combination doesn’t make for a great motorway car.

Powering the Up GTI is a 115hp 1.0-litre petrol, producing 200Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds. Top speed is a claimed 122mph. It’s a lively feeling engine, with plenty of low down pulling power and a growling engine note helped by the standard-fit sound actuator.

Its relatively low power may disappoint some, but the Up GTI never feels slow or weedy, plus there’s every excuse to rev the engine right to its red line – even if peak power does arrive at 5,500rpm.

The Up GTI gets a six-speed manual gearbox, which better suits the wide spread of performance and makes this model better suited for faster roads.

Electric engines

If low running costs are your priority, the 60kW (equivalent to 82hp) E-Up is capable of a claimed 160 miles of range from a single charge, all the while emitting zero CO2 emissions. Acceleration to 62mph is a reasonable 11.9 seconds (although it will feel quicker than this up to around 30mph) while top speed is 80mph.

Like all electric cars, the E-Up is completely automatic, using its electric motor to provide drive to the front wheels. 

What’s it like to drive?

  • Agile, nimble and easy to drive
  • Encouragingly stable at high speeds
  • Up GTI is enormous fun on a twisty road

The Volkswagen Up handles with more poise and stability than other city car rivals, yet still feels nippy and manoeuvrable around town. There’s enough grip on offer, and the body resists roll through all but the sharpest corners.

Parking is easy thanks to non-existent blindspots and short overhangs, while the steering – feather light at low speeds – weights up nicely when you get onto a faster road. Overall, the Up – regardless of which engine you opt for – is great fun to drive, yet safe and stable at the same time.

If you’re intent on extracting the maximum amount of fun from the Up, the GTI model is the place to be. Lower to the ground than the regular Up, it feels that bit more stable at speed and builds on the what is an already capable chassis with bigger brakes and tweaked suspension.

Corners are a joy to negotiate and, while grip levels aren’t endless, it only adds to the fun that can be had at sensible speeds – a rarity in the power-obsessed world of modern performance cars.