Volkswagen's reckoning of its brand cachet tends to leave its cars with relatively high prices in the bustling mainstream, but the Up is aimed at recapturing some of the ground capitulated by the aging Lupo and Fox.

The model is offered in three trim levels: Take Up, Move Up and High Up. Starting from around £8000, the base- and mid-spec cars are only available with the 59bhp motor, but regardless they make for tempting prospects even compared to value-focused Korean rivals.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
Detachable sat-nav is great, but naked electrical contacts might attract thieves

Alternatively, the range-topper comes with the 74bhp engine and is well equipped, but its higher sticker puts it shoulder to shoulder with the worthier VW Polo and Ford Fiesta. With the Up, the cheaper, more basic models make more sense despite the appeal of the big-car kit levels you get with the range-topping model. They’ll depreciate less and will still do the job admirably well.

For owners patient enough to avoid the scarlet end of the revcounter, there are significant financial advantages. Our touring run produced a remarkably impressive 59.6mpg in the higher-powered Up, almost equalling the figure quoted by Volkswagen. With a 35-litre fuel tank, that gives a prospective range of over 450 miles. That’s well short of the 800 miles or so offered by the VW Polo BlueMotion, but it will still seem like a reasonable return if your Up is confined to a city commute.

One financial handicap worth noting: despite its tiny three-cylinder engine, the Up fails to dip below the 100g/km CO2 tax threshold unless you opt for the 96g/km BlueMotion Technology model.

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