What is it?
This is a two-pedal UP. On the face of it, the VW Up’s five-speed automated manual gearbox – labelled ASG, the German initials for ‘single-clutch automatic’ – seems a very enticing choice for the acclaimed city car.
According to VW, it improves combined fuel mileage of the 74bhp model by better than four per cent and shaves three per cent off the already low CO2 output, while damaging neither acceleration nor top speed. It carries a reasonable-sounding premium of £595.
What is it like?
Sadly, the figures don’t tell the story. Although the ASG ’box is just about tolerable for the kind of driver who will only ever drive the Up very slowly and avoids the worst excesses of a ‘nodding dog’ gearchange action, it simply is not a sensible choice for anyone who wants to take advantage of the Up’s main dynamic assets – its excellent engine, chassis and steering.
Upchanges are tolerable if your acceleration is steady, but as speed declines, the car hardly ever changes down as you would like and thus isn’t in the right gear for accelerating from the next bend.
After an hour in the ASG, I was seriously contemplating parting with £595 just to have the conventional manual gearbox back.
Should I buy one?
You can reduce the problems by selecting manual mode and moving the light, short-throw lever between gears yourself, without any need to dip a clutch, but this facility is not worth paying extra for.
So unless there’s a physical reason why you need a car with no clutch pedal, stick to the conventional manual and put £595 towards your next holiday.
Volkswagen Up 1.0 ASG
Price £9,795; 0-62mph 13.2sec; Top speed 106mph; Economy 64.2mpg (combined); CO2 105g/km; Kerb weight 960kg; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 74bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 66lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 5-spd automated manual