From £8,3408
The Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars. If it looks a little bland for your tastes, this Club Up special edition offers extra pizzazz
10 April 2015

What is it?

The Volkswagen Up is already a fine city car, because it does an awful lot, awfully well. In terms of its ride and relative space, for such a pint-sized silhouette, it is quite outstanding.

It could be argued that the regular versions are rather too efficient, however, in the sense that they meter out their brilliance in a slightly bland fashion.

To add a bit of sparkle and ‘up' the ante – if you’ll excuse the pun – VW has launched two new special editions: the Street Up, and the model we are testing today, the Club Up. 

What's it like?

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.

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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. 

Should I buy one?

There are cheaper city cars than the Up, and particularly this special edition, so if value is your main priority then perhaps not. Even the Up’s near-identical sister models from Skoda and Seat offer better value for a similarly good package. That said, slightly better VW residuals will negate some of this advantage come trade-in time.

However, if you value having the fabled VW roundel bolted to your bonnet and were contemplating a High Up anyway, but with some optional jazzy alloys and sparkly paint, then the Club Up does make financial sense.

Beyond the financial arguments, though, the Club Up takes an excellent car and injects some extra personality, which in our book makes it a pretty decent proposition. 

Volkswagen Club Up 1.0 75 5dr

Location Surrey; On Sale Now; Price £12,370; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 74bhp at 6200rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 929kg; 0-62mph 13.2sec; Top speed 106mph; Economy 60.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 108g/km, 16%

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Add a comment…
Alexanda 15 April 2015

Not many around

I chuckle to myself every time I read the Up is Autocar's favourite city car because you see so few of them on the road it makes me question this magazines respectability when it comes to car reviews. This car looks boring as sin (as well as the high cost) as wellas badly proportioned. I don't know how many people get sucked in by the 'VW is great' any longer. Too many people have had to take months old cars back to the dealers because they have stopped working. I think VW may have dug themselves a hole.
Flatus senex 13 April 2015

Journalistic bootlicking (or something more vulgar!)

"Fabled VW roundel". Really! Get a grip Autocar.
Will86 12 April 2015

Turbo Please

I really like the Up and its sister cars, but I wish they'd launch a turbo version. It's all the more frustrating that the engine exists - the new 1.0TFSI in the A1. I also wonder if the VW Group could take all the ideas in the Up and make it into a bigger car. Something to replace the Skoda Rapid for example.