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.

Starting from around £8000, the base- and mid-spec cars are only available with the 59bhp motors, but regardless they make for tempting prospects even compared to value-focused Korean rivals.

Matt Prior

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

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Mini Countryman Cooper S
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    All-new bigger Mini continues to make a curious, flawed crossover hatchback, though it’s more compelling to drive than some and more practical than it used to be
  • Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid
    First Drive
    17 January 2017
    Plug-in petrol-electric Panamera makes a better case than ever to supplant the diesel best seller, but it still appeals more to the head than the heart
  • MX-5 RF 2.0 160
    First Drive
    17 January 2017
    The distinctive 'retractable fastback' roadster promises typical MX-5 dynamics coupled with better refinement. It achieves the former, but the latter isn't quite there yet
  • Hyundai i30 1.4 T-GDi Premium
    First Drive
    17 January 2017
    Facing increasingly formidable opposition, the Hyundai i30 has been overhauled for 2017. The result is a recognisably mixed bag
  • 2016 Infiniti Q50 Country Road
    First Drive
    12 January 2017
    Infiniti’s premium mid-sized saloon packs a serious punch, but lacks the dynamic prowess of European rivals