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VW Up! (2011): Georg Kacher has the lowdown

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 00:00:00 -0700

By Georg Kacher

Motor Industry

12 August 2010 11:40

It's only a year to go until Volkswagen launches its new Up! microcar family. The Up! is due on sale in summer 2011 and will eventually be available in three sizes, as part of VW's New Small Family (NSF) generation of city cars. Although the Lupo name was tipped to make a comeback, that's now very unlikely. Expect this to be called Up! in production – complete with annoying exclamation mark that'll surely rank alongside the Kia Cee'd's linguistic graffiti.

We hear the new VW Up range will make its debut in August 2011, one year from now. The total output of phase one from VW's Bratislava plant is geared for 600,000 sales per year. Initially, there will only be two bodystyles to choose from: a three- and five-door hatchback. Still to come are the Space Up! microvan and Audi's forthcoming A2, which will use the same basic matrix, sources say.

Has the Up! changed much since the concept car pictured?

Although the Up! was first shown three years ago, the design has barely changed since then. Key styling elements still include slim wraparound air intake elements, a short upright rear end, a graphic greenhouse with blacked out B-pillars as well as trademark VW head- and taillights.

Although NSF started life as a rear-engined urban runabout, VW quickly switched to front-wheel drive for cost and complexity reasons. NSF is neither based on the outgoing PQ platform nor on the group's advanced modular MQB components set. Instead, it uses a low-cost, easy-to-build structure which shares core elements with the previous Polo.

Here is how the three-door Up! compares to the current Polo: wheelbase 2450 (Polo 2470mm), length 3450 (3970mm), width 1630 (1680mm), height 1500 (1460mm), front track 1420 (1446mm), tank capacity 35 (45 litres), cargo deck 180 (280 litres), number of seats four (five), weight 800kg (995kg).

What about inside the VW Up!?

Inside, the production version adopts the Bauhaus-meets-Apple purity purveyed by the 2007 concept car. Like the Beetle, the Up! makes do with one large round instrument. The advanced modular infotainment system provides full connectivity with smartphones and palmtops. Although there is no multi-controller interface, the portable hardware can be accessed via the multifunctional steering wheel.

How much will the new Up! cost?

Priced between €8000 and €9000 (depending on market), the base Up! is of course not exactly generously equipped. Even though ABS, ESP
and two airbags are said to be standard, the bargain model lacks power steering, height-adjustable seats, electric windows, central locking and even a spare tyre. Unless you pay extra, the four-door variant has fixed rear windows.

On the other hand it is easily possible to select a truly upmarket specification complete with automatic air-conditioning, sunroof, alloy wheels, top infotainment and sport suspension.

The engines tipped for the Up!

• 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, 60bhp
• 1.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder petrol, 85bhp
• 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol, 105bhp (from 2012)
• 1.2-litre three-cylinder TDI, 75bhp

The cleanest model will produce less than 100g/km of CO2. If you want cleaner still, wait for the BEV, the plug-in zero-emission commuter mini is the only first-generation Up! version that will be offered in selected metropolitan areas of the US. Although technology, range and cost are still to be determined, it seems safe to assume that some basic componentry will be shared with the E-Golf which is also scheduled to debut in 2013.

No, the Up! is not an alternative to the cheapest Dacia or to the pending export version of the Tata Nano. Instead, this is a proper Volkswagen – a no-nonsense vehicle built to last, commendably affordable to buy and run.

By Georg Kacher