Volkswagen's concept for the Up followed on from Toyota's bold attempt to push the compact city car reset button with its brilliant but flawed Toyota iQ.

The bespoke cuboid was a brazen attempt to turn design convention on its head and provided evidence that the world’s biggest car manufacturer had not bankrupted its brain trust or ambition but remained capable of genuine blue-sky originality.

Soon after the Toyota revealed the iQ as a concept, Volkswagen, the European firm that aspires to its Japanese rival’s global rank, unveiled the original Up at the Frankfurt motor show. Imaginatively packaged with a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive, the Up appeared to rival the iQ’s innovative approach and suggested that VW was just as capable of wielding its own economic and engineering clout in this niche. That wasn't enough as the VW Group also pushed the Up concept through Skoda and Seat and came up with the Citigo and the Mii.

The Up duly caught the industry’s imagination, and despite a prolonged development, the production version still arrives in the UK on a groundswell of opinion that continues to suggest that VW might have produced something worthy of the original concept’s inventiveness. 

As the Up approaches four years on the market, Volkswagen gave it a mid-life facelift which saw a revised design, new technology on the inside and the addition of a turbocharger to its 1.0-litre engine.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 City cars

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Ibiza
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    A model upon which Seat has staked its future, the new Ibiza must now deliver
  • Honda Clarity FCV
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    Honda’s fuel cell flagship reaches its second generation, but is the world ready?
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta 2017 review
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    A UK drive in Nissan’s crucial crossover shows an update has not cost it any of that which makes it sell so well
  • Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    The Seat Ibiza has wowed in other iterations, but how will the entry-level 1.0-litre MPI version stack up in the UK? We've been to north Wales to find out
  • Vauxhall Insignia Sport Tourer 1.5 Turbo 165 2017 review
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    Mid-range petrol engine suits Vauxhall's new family-sized load-lugger well. Another refined, comfortable, easy-to-drive and attractively priced Insignia.