Because the heritage of modern city cars begins with the Mini and Fiat 500, there is an unwritten rule that they should all handle like swollen karts. Many subscribe to this approach and duly fail to offer the kind of obliging pliancy required by British roads. Not so the Up. Volkswagen has sensibly opted for lower ride rates, which help the car to accommodate the peaks and troughs of amateurish resurfacing efforts. The resulting sense of big-car comfort is a critical part of Volkswagen’s efforts to differentiate the Up from the competition.
It’s an interesting facet of the model’s broader appeal – and one likely to be embraced by buyers fed up with being jiggled and jolted after downsizing to something more manageable. However, it has not been achieved without compromises. For one thing, the Up leans into corners with more roll than most other VWs, and over quicker ground it has a habit of bobbing around rather than bedding down.
The softer set-up also makes itself felt during gearchanges under high load, when the Up’s body tends to buck.
Nonetheless, with most issues only noticeable when the car is placed under some duress, the general demeanour at casual speeds is one of agreeable, accomplished progress. Predictably, the steering has been tuned for the kind of weightless resistance that makes car parks and high streets easy to navigate, but even beyond town centres its patent lack of intelligible feedback is barely a hinderance due to the usual surfeit of VW-engineered front-end grip.
The Up’s lack of mass and girth also profits the entire driving experience. Tipping our scales at 945kg puts it among only the class average, but for buyers exchanging a corpulent saloon car, the pint-sized model will appear engagingly amenable to the quick-fire requirements of city driving.