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.

Top 5 City cars

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

    Fiat Panda

    1
  • The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

    Volkswagen Up

    2
  • Hyundai i10
    The Hyundai i10 is offered with either a 1.0-litre petrol engine or a 1.2-litre petrol engine

    Hyundai i10

    3
  • Can Korea’s new supermini shine in a class packed with stars?

    Kia Picanto

    4
  • Is this the small car revolution Toyota claims it is?

    Toyota iQ

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volkswagen range

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
  • First Drive
    20 February 2015
    Remember Mercedes' 6x6 monster off-roader? Well, this is the 4x4 version, and we've driven it.