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The headlines have focused on the new 1.0 TSI, but this non-turbo three-cylinder Up remains a very strong city car choice post-facelift
2 September 2016

What is it?

It wasn't long ago that we were singing the praises of the Volkswagen Up's new turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine from the streets of Milan. It retains everything that is great about the Up chassis-wise, but injects a welcome turn of pace, even if its inflated price pushes it ever closer to supermini territory.

Now we're driving Volkswagen's facelifted Up on the streets of Bedfordshire, and this time around we're without a turbocharger. There aren't quite as many fashion labels about, either. Indeed, this 74bhp three-cylinder petrol engine was available in the Up before, but the other facelift additions still apply. 

That's to say there's the revised styling, updated technology and new colours and wheels now available. Most notably, VW has done away with the old Garmin-based removable touchscreen of before. Entry-level Take Up model still make do with a single monochrome screen, but mid-range Move now gets a 5.0in colour screen in its place as standard, while our High Up model adds the Smartphone cradle you see pictured. 

What's it like?

One thing stands out; its pace. You'd like to think it's the new 89bhp turbocharged three-cylinder that would make this car feel slower, but our figures don't lie. This non-turbo car did a 0-60mph time of 12.9sec with us back in 2012 when it was first released. Now, not for love nor money could we get it to do the same in anything less than 14.3sec, despite its official time (to 62mph) remaining the same. 

Fine, the 2012 car was a non-BlueMotion Technology model, which is officially 0.3sec faster, but this BlueMotion is still nearly a second slower than its official (and ultimately slightly faster) official sprint. City cars aren't supposed to be rocketship quick, and this Up still feels nicely within its depth around town, but take it onto a motorway or fast A-road and it has to be thrashed hard in order to keep pace. 

It's bad enough that Volkswagen is sending us another car to make a comparison. We'll figure it again and report back. 

Happily, everything else about the Up's drive remains very nice indeed. It steers better than most city cars, with a precise, linear action, and while its body isn't afraid to move around under hard braking and over high-speed undulations, its damping is pleasingly sophisticated for something with this sort of price tag.

Revving out its engine - which you'll be doing a lot - brings the same addictive thrum as before, although it does come with some vibration through the controls, too. Even so, the Up still does a good job of keeping most road and tyre noise outside and can't be beaten for its high-speed stability and generally feeling bigger than its dimensions in that sense.

Inside, there's still room for four adults, if those in the back put up with their knees against rather than forced into the front seatbacks, and its 251-litre boot continues to transport the week's shopping with ease. The driver is treated to good all-round visibility, although still makes do with no steering wheel reach adjustment. Furthermore, if you're often accommodating people on your back seats, it's worth pointing out that a Hyundai i10 provides more space. 

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An i10 can't match the Up's interior quality or infotainment, though - at least not before it's facelifted itself later this year, that is. VW, especially in our High Up car, has nailed scaling down the look and feel of its bigger cars in this smaller package. The switchgear feels substantial, the plastics are textured and the piano black accents are classy.

Impressive, too, is the new infotainment. The 5.0in colour screen is labelled a touchscreen in VW's brochure, but it is in fact underlined by menu buttons and flanked by a couple of rotary dials, making it simple to use as well as easy on the eye. Most smartphones will fit in the supplied cradle above, and after downloading an app, effectively replaces the old car's screen by displaying sat-nav and a range of trip computer information.  

Should I buy one?

We wondered whether it was worth spending the extra on the new turbocharged car, and having now driven this non-turbo 75 we'd say it is, for private buyers eyeing more expensive trims. For the sake of a couple of hundred pounds, its greater performance will come in handy outside town, and it complements the Up's class-leading ride and handling nicely.

However, with more power comes reduced fuel economy and more CO2 from the tailpipe, and those looking for the most cost-effective company-owned Up should rightly seek out the cleaner models, even if it means putting up with their more pedestrian performance.

Ultimately, a Hyundai i10 is bigger and more refined, but the Up still does just enough in the areas that matter to remain a class act.  

Volkswagen Up 1.0 75 BlueMotion Technology High Up

Location Bedfordshire; Price £12,280; On sale Now; Engine 3cyl, 999cc, petrol; Power 74bhp at 6200rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3000-4300rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 936kg; 0-62mph (official) 13.5sec; Top speed 106mph; Economy 68.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 96g/km, 14% 

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si73 6 September 2016

Satnav

My wife has a mii by mango, a very plush little car, and very nice to drive, it has the now removed Garmin satnav which is superb, I am surprised it is no longer available, the satnav works well, as do the trip computer and music player, we stuck a 32G memory stick full of music into it, and the Bluetooth also works well. For me personally using my phone would be a negative as it has a much smaller screen and isn't a high end latest smartphone, I am sure I am not alone, so personally if it was available as an option I would tick the box for the Garmin device. Ours is on a 3yr pcp, two things that make me want to pay it off rather than start again in two years time are having to use my phone instead of a dedicated device and the fact that a new one from next year will be £140 to tax instead of ours at £20. Aside from that I don't think there is much to this face lift, at a glance I think you'd be hard pressed to notice it, but then, I suppose, why mess about with a car that sells really well.
bowsersheepdog 4 September 2016

Upgrading

I really like the dashboard, though it has to be said the new i10's isn't that far behind. Outside I slightly prefer the Up, because the rear side windows are bigger and also due to not being a fan of the side rubbing strips on the i10. Not a great deal in it however. The Aygo or Yaris would need thought too, depending on which Up was under consideration.
LP in Brighton 3 September 2016

@KenF - I think it's all about up-selling!

No pun intended, but I think the idea is that you enter a showroom the view the £8995 entry model, then leave having purchased a £12,280 High Up like the one reviewed above. Then again, you could nip down to your local Hyundai dealer and drive away in the bigger and more refined (according to Autocar)i10 with a few thousand pounds saved plus a longer warranty. Of course, it wouldn't have the Volkswagen badge on the nose though...
n50pap 3 September 2016

LP in Brighton wrote:

LP in Brighton wrote:

No pun intended, but I think the idea is that you enter a showroom the view the £8995 entry model, then leave having purchased a £12,280 High Up like the one reviewed above. Then again, you could nip down to your local Hyundai dealer and drive away in the bigger and more refined (according to Autocar)i10 with a few thousand pounds saved plus a longer warranty. Of course, it wouldn't have the Volkswagen badge on the nose though...

Alternatively you could wait a year and get a low mileage UP in High Up spec for £8995, which is what I did two years ago. This latest model does seem to have bigger instruments and the indicator repeaters are not on the front wing. They were rather flimsy and did break and required the dealership to fit them back in so, presumably, other owners have complained. Apart from that the car is fine although the Maps and More satnav can never seem to accept my own postcode and other information like mpg figures can be slightly vague. Thankfully it drives well.