Volkswagen's concept for the Up followed on from Toyota's bold attempt to push the compact city car reset button with its brilliant but flawed Toyota iQ. The bespoke cuboid was a brazen attempt to turn design convention on its head and provided evidence that the world’s biggest car manufacturer had not bankrupted its brain trust or ambition but remained capable of genuine blue-sky originality.

Soon after the Toyota revealed the iQ as a concept, Volkswagen, the European firm that aspires to its Japanese rival’s global rank, unveiled the original Up at the Frankfurt motor show. Imaginatively packaged with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, the Up appeared to rival the iQ’s innovative approach and suggested that VW was just as capable of wielding its own economic and engineering clout in this niche.

The Up duly caught the industry’s imagination, and despite a prolonged development, the production version still arrives in the UK on a groundswell of opinion that continues to suggest that VW might have produced something worthy of the original concept’s inventiveness.

Top 5 City cars

  • Volkswagen Up
    The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

    Volkswagen Up

    1
  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

    2
  • Suzuki Celerio
    The Celerio is an all-new city car from Suzuki

    Suzuki Celerio

    3
  • Fiat Panda
    Panda’s 4 star EuroNCAP crash score falls short of some rivals

    Fiat Panda

    4
  • Vauxhall Viva
    Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 July 2016
    Sweden guns for Germany’s big-hitters with a new full-sized exec
  • Car review
    27 July 2016
    Facelifted roadster ushers in a new generation of turbo V6 AMGs
  • First Drive
    27 July 2016
    Special-edition Twingo is packed with kit for a reasonable price, but a practicality deficit and a gutless engine leave us feeling cold
  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    An expensive but entertaining, intriguing and very usable road-going track car whose rarity may eventually underwrite its high price
  • First Drive
    26 July 2016
    French fashion brand Givenchy has come together with DS for a special edition DS 3. Is it now any closer to the class leaders?