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

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

    Volkswagen Up

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

    Hyundai i10

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

    Suzuki Celerio

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

    Fiat Panda

  • Vauxhall Viva 1.0 SE is priced from £7995

    Vauxhall Viva


Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    27 November 2015
    We try the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol version of the Golf Bluemotion. If you're not doing mega miles, it's a better bet than the diesel
  • 2015 Mercedes-AMG A45
    First Drive
    27 November 2015
    Mercedes couldn't let the Audi RS3 get away with having more power than its AMG A45. As part of a wholesale A-Class facelift, it now has 376bhp and a host of other revisions
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    More powerful Clubsport version of Volkswagen's iconic hot hatch proves thoroughly entertaining on our track-only first drive in Portugal
  • First Drive
    25 November 2015
    Suzuki has added an automatic diesel powertrain to its S-Cross crossover line-up. Does it offer a compelling choice over the manual versions?
  • First Drive
    24 November 2015
    Alpina’s D3 saloon and estate benefit from the latest BMW 3 Series updates. We've always loved it, but is it still as beguiling as ever in this latest form?