The Club Up is based around the existing High Up, which means that the standard specification is pretty comprehensive. Cast your eye over the brochure and you’ll see that this means highlights such as a leather steering wheel, front foglights, air-con, heated front seats, electric front windows and heated electric door mirrors.
You also get the Garmin-based portable infotainment device that fixes to the top of the dashboard. This has a 5.0in touchscreen to operate the sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, MP3 playback and driving information that’s all part of the ‘Maps and More’ package, as VW refer to it. It’s not as good as some of the built-in systems out there, but nevertheless it does the job.
So what else do you get over and above that little lot if you dole out the extra £610 required for the Club model? Well, on the outside you get a choice of ‘Blueberry’ blue or ‘Deep’ black metallic, as well as a set of rather fetching 16in alloy wheels. It also comes with privacy glass on the windows aft of the B-pillars, plus silver-capped door mirrors and silver decals low down on the doors and wings.
Inside you get shiny sill kick plates, a black roof lining, special carpet mats and smart tartan cloth trim. As far as value goes that’s not bad, because just to add alloys and metallic paint to a High Up would cost an extra £880.
The version we tried was a five-door with the ‘Blueberry’ paint, and the general consensus in the car park was that it looks very smart indeed. The combination of dark glass and alloys that fill up the wheel arches makes the Club Up stand out from the masses, but stops short of being gauche.
This tester is a pathetic sucker for retro-marketing done well, so the Up’s body-coloured dash, tartan trim and fancy decals pulled me in hook, line and sinker. Yes, it’s all a touch pastiche, but it triggered happy memories of past rides in classic Beetles and Mk1 Golfs. It conspires to give the Up an extra dimension and starts to unwind the sense it’s just a machine, bereft of any character.
Elsewhere it’s classic Up. The ride is exceptional for a city car and can shame a few cars even in the executive bracket. Meanwhile, the handling is fun to a degree (it’s no Fiesta), but the cherry on top is lovely, direct steering that lets you place the Up just where you want with ease.
The steering also helps the Up to be light and nimble around town. The tight turning circle and Matchbox proportions also make it as good as any city car for prowling the streets and claiming those elusive parking places.
All Club Ups are fitted with the more powerful 74bhp, three-cylinder petrol engine. Despite the extra power it still needs a good stoking to get it moving on the open road, but it will happily cruise once it’s hit 70mph on the motorway. For pottering around town it’s got all the performance you need for darting in and out of traffic, and the five-speed manual gearbox feels light and precise as you hunt for ratios.
Being a city car the boot’s not vast but it’s good enough for a supermarket shop, and if you’re the designated driver for a night on the town, you’ll squeeze in three of your friends, no problem.
However, one bugbear from which all Ups suffer persists. The location of the large speedometer means there’s a good chance – depending on your driving position – that you’ll find the steering wheel obscures the top of the dial. This means you have to duck to check your speed if it’s in the 30-90mph range.