• The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition
  • Volkswagen calls it 'up!'. Forgive us if we use more conventional grammar
  • There are a multitude of alloy wheels available on the options list
  • Interior ergonomics are sound, and there are flashes of the usual VW quality fit and finish
  • Interior colours matched to exterior ones has possibility to be garish
  • Nav comes in a pod so that cars un-equipped with it don't look so spartan
  • Rear chairs offer good accommodation for little 'uns
  • As with all rivals in the city car segment, boot space is at a premium
  • Rear seats split and fold to increase versatility
  • The Up has been designed with the urban environment in mind
  • If you frequently travel out of town, you should consider avoiding the 59bhp model
  • Three-cylinder powerplant takes up little space under the bonnet
  • Big-car comfort differentiates the Up from the opposition
  • The Up corners with more lean than most VWs
  • The Up brings grown-up road manners to the city car segment

The cabin is not adventurous but with Volkswagen’s seemingly effortless amalgamation of premium finish and ergonomic accuracy firmly front and centre, it hardly needs to be. Some of the switchgear layout feels like it might have originated in the latest VW Beetle – especially set against the reflective background afforded by the glossy surround of the top-spec High Up – but, if anything, the effect feels neater and better reconciled to a scaled-down city car size.

The same goes for the sat-nav (standard on top-spec models), which is supplied as a third-party Maps & More portable device. The Volkswagen Group has perched such items in the centre of dashboards before, but rarely with such harmonious success. 

Nic Cackett

Road tester
There’s no driver’s side control for the passenger’s window. Couldn’t VW have found a better way of economising?

The net result (at the expensive end of the line-up) is an upscale interior ambience that sets many of its rivals’ inferior offerings in stark contrast. Its conscious simplicity can’t compete with the aesthetic flair of the Fiat 500, but for prospective buyers sampling Korean and Japanese opposition it will feel like a cut above. 

Most will not feel short-changed by the car’s spaciousness. There is more legroom than one would guess at when presented with the car’s physical dimensions (it’s marginally shorter than the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto). Taller occupants might struggle in the back, but two average-sized adults can be accommodated well enough for a short sprint across town. There’s even space for a smattering of luggage; the petite but surprisingly deep boot has a class-leading 251-litre capacity.

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