The 89bhp 1.0-litre turbo triple surprises in that it can be treated much like a diesel. We were astonished at how early the shift indicator told us to change up a gear. Despite our reservations, the Up would pull cleanly from around 1500rpm, even uphill. That’s because the torque plateau begins at this engine speed - half as much as the naturally aspirated engine.
While it sounds a bit grumbly when slogging away so low down in the rev range, it soon clears its voice and starts to emit the kind of three-cylinder thrum we’re rather fond of. It’s quieter than many rivals and is less prone to sending vibrations through the controls.
Work it harder and the little triple propels the Up along at a reasonable pace and allows a relaxed cruise on the motorway. Indeed, 'relaxed' is a good way to describe the powertrain as a whole; the long gearing makes riding the torque instead of hunting for top-end power the easiest option. Not that changing gear is a chore.
It may have more power, but there have been no changes to the suspension or braking system. That means you still get precise if slightly numb steering, a ride that is good by city car standards and keen handling. The low weight and tiny dimensions make town driving a breeze and it’ll happily carve through curves.
One word of warning, though: all of the above applies to an Up rolling on 15in wheels. We also tried one with 17s and it proved far less impressive. The tyres' shallower sidewalls and the wheels' additional unsprung weight caused the Up to crash and thump without any improvement to handling. The suspension may still be noisy on smaller wheels, but you don’t feel anywhere near as many imperfections.
Inside, the biggest news is the move away from the Garmin-sourced sat-nav unit that was optional on the old model. Instead, you get a smartphone dock for the higher-end infotainment system. This has a 5.0in screen beneath the heater controls, along with the display on your Android or Apple phone.
Once you’ve downloaded the free app and connected via Bluetooth, you can control various functions on your mobile and also see driving data. It works well, although the display quality is entirely dependent on your phone. An iPhone screen is a little small, although a Plus is better. Sadly, that’s the biggest device you can cram into VW’s dock.
If you’re interested in music, you might like the Up Beats model. This comes with a 300-watt stereo with seven speakers, an amp and a subwoofer in the boot. You might also appreciate the additional customisation options for the wheels, roof, door mirrors and main dash panel.
As before, you can have three or five doors and there’s still the option of the naturally aspirated 1.0 triple with either 64 or 74bhp. Although you can’t expect acres of room from such a small car, you can still get a couple of adults in the back and a reasonable amount of shopping in the boot.