Volkswagen up! beats


    The last time I drove a Volkswagen up! (that ! may become annoying – apologies in advance) was soon after its launch. I declared it brilliant; an opinion I’ve kept ever since. I also thought its mechanically identical sisters, the SEAT Mii and the Skoda Citigo were excellent too, as was the similarly sized Hyundai i10 for that matter. It was the perception of VW’s final extra “polish” though, and perhaps a bit of subconscious badge-snobbery that swung it for the up! It became my city-car of choice.

   That first encounter of the up! – all 11 feet 7 inches and 65bhp of it – was five years ago. Needless to say there’ve been a few changes since then.

    There are now numerous ways in which one can personalise the smallest member of VW’s line-up; different coloured mirrors, side decals, interior trim colours, a choice of alloy wheels, there’s even seven different dashboard hues. But in doing so things can become expensive. Tick all the options boxes and this little 4-seater only (there’s no fifth seatbelt) Volkswagen could set you back up to £16k!  - That exclamation mark was intended.  Nevertheless diminutive dimensions and costly fripperies aside, the up! somehow manages to feel like so much more than just your average city run-about. And especially so perhaps in beats – as per the Dr Dre/Apple Headphone manufacturer- trim, as per this one.

    In my humble opinion you’d be far better off if you let the likes of MINI and FIAT trouble themselves with their myriad of options boxes and instead simply ask your VW dealer to order you an up! beats instead. That said request the optional winter pack - so you get heated seats, and mirrors - and pick the new 90bhp TSi engine too.

     Specced thus you should have everything you really need: Air-con, MP3/CD player, twin airbags, ISOFIX, ABS, EBD, EDL, remote locking, power windows. start-stop, speed sensitive steering, driver’s seat height adjustment… The list goes on. To which if your budget allows, VW’s city emergency braking pack (a first in this class) can also can be added. The up! beats even gets a flat bottomed steering wheel a la Audi’s R8. You won’t get its perforated leather rim though, and neither is it adjustable for reach – annoying if you’re short of arm like me. But, VW did fit extra speakers and 300W subwoofer in the boot to help take your mind off such niggles, and because it’s a Volkswagen everything fits (and in this instance sounds) perfectly.

    It now feels just about perfect too. The addition of a tiny turbocharger on the up!’s 3-cylinder motor makes progress all the more peppy. Where once this little car was phased by steeper inclines it now shrugs them off and pulls with aplomb. Torque is available in full from just 1,500rpm so the up! feels altogether more eager and accelerates with a greater, and most welcome, sense of urgency. Add to that fairly long gearing and you’ve now got a city- car that doesn’t feel flustered when it leaves town. A class-leading boot capacity, albeit one that just about swallows two carry-on cases, plus a surprisingly compliant ride for something with such a wheel-in-each-corner stance means this particular childless scribe wouldn’t think twice about taking the up! on holiday or away for a long weekend. Volkswagen even have an easily downloadable Maps and More app that turns your smartphone into a sat-nav / trip-computer and a cradle that sits atop the up!’s dashboard to hold it. Very clever.

       Personally I preferred the removable Garmin system in the first up! I drove, but perhaps that’s just me. Connectivity these days is king, perhaps I should try to keep up – no pun intended.

    The truth is I would’ve kept the up! if they’d have let me. I thought it was brilliant first time around time around and I still do. The best city car on the market just got better.



Volkswagen up! Beats TSi

Engine: 999cc 3Cyl 16V turbo-charged petrol

Transmission: 5 speed manual Front-wheel drive.

Power:   90 bhp @ 5,000 rpm

Torque: 118 lbft @ 1,500 rpm

0-62MPH: 9.9 Sec

Max Speed: 115 mph

CO2: 108 g/km

MPG: 60.1 combined

Price: from 11,490 (as tested £12,820)


Many thanks to Volkswagen’s UK press office for the loan of their up!



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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