• The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition
  • Volkswagen calls it 'up!'. Forgive us if we use more conventional grammar
  • There are a multitude of alloy wheels available on the options list
  • Interior ergonomics are sound, and there are flashes of the usual VW quality fit and finish
  • Interior colours matched to exterior ones has possibility to be garish
  • Nav comes in a pod so that cars un-equipped with it don't look so spartan
  • Rear chairs offer good accommodation for little 'uns
  • As with all rivals in the city car segment, boot space is at a premium
  • Rear seats split and fold to increase versatility
  • The Up has been designed with the urban environment in mind
  • If you frequently travel out of town, you should consider avoiding the 59bhp model
  • Three-cylinder powerplant takes up little space under the bonnet
  • Big-car comfort differentiates the Up from the opposition
  • The Up corners with more lean than most VWs
  • The Up brings grown-up road manners to the city car segment

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.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
The Up isn’t the fastest away from the line, but it displays big-car comfort

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.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volkswagen range

Driven this week