From £8,3408
Look Up special edition adds more kit and unique styling touches to the lower end of the Up range. Do the changes make it worth a look?

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Up

The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

18 May 2016

What is it?

It’s a special edition of one of our favourite small city cars, the Volkswagen Up.

This Look Up edition sits on the second rung of the ladder in the Up range, between the Take Up and Move Up trims. It’s only available with the lesser-powered, 59bhp version of the 1.0-litre petrol engine, but you can choose either three-door or five-door bodystyles.

It comes with 15in alloy wheels, unique interior upholstery design, body-coloured door handles and wing mirrors, driver’s seat height adjustment, split and folding rear seats and manual air conditioning. It's also available with three exterior paint colours: Pure White, Tornado Red and Saturn Yellow.

We're testing a Saturn Yellow three-door Look Up. Fitted to our test car is the optional £280 Maps & More navigation and infotainment system, a dash-mounted detachable sat-nav with a 5in screen which controls the in-car entertainment and Bluetooth.

What's it like?

The 999cc three-cylinder engine is carried over from the rest of the range, and with just 59bhp and 70lb ft, the little Up needs to be worked hard in order to make decent progress - and even harder on hills or when pulling out onto faster roads.

Indeed, some might miss the extra 15bhp of the more powerful version (which isn't available in Look Up form), at least here the engine is mated to Volkswagen's five-speed gearbox, which is accurate and capable of changing gears swiftly with its short-throw action.

Around town, the Up copes well and, thanks to its pint-sized dimensions, is great for nipping between slower vehicles. Take it beyond the city limits and it handles well for the class; there’s loads of grip, limited body lean and the steering is accurate. The ride can be firm and slightly unsettled at low speeds, but only over the worst surfaces.

Motorways shouldn’t be feared, either, because the Up manages to feel safe and secure. Wind and road noise is prevalent, although it’s not overbearing.

On the inside, the design is simple and stylish and there’s a robust feel. Across the dash, there's a black inset panel, which has a metallic paint-like sparkle to it. There’s exposed bodywork on the doors, which adds some contrast, while the door handles are finished in a brushed metal look.

The instrument cluster is clear and the controls are well positioned. While the radio display looks dated, the optional sat-nav has a high-resolution screen and is easy to use.

You’ll appreciate the comfortable and supportive seats, which adjust for height, but the steering wheel only adjusts for rake and not reach. Despite this, it is pretty easy to get comfortable, and with good head room, it feels larger than its dimensions suggest. However, there's still no USB socket and the Look Up's wing mirrors adjust manually, meaning an awkward reach across the cabin when parking.

Gaining access to the rear of this three-door version requires the pulling of a lever on the side of the front seats, tilting the backrest and then sliding the whole seat forward. The opening that is then presented is at least large enough to climb in with your dignity intact. Annoyingly, though, the front seats don’t reset to their previous position. In the back, leg and knee room is tight for adults and with only two seat belts, usability is restricted. 

Pushing a central button on the back of the Up opens its glass boot lid, revealing a good-size boot for the class. The floor level is adjustable and can either sit flush with the boot lip or drop deeper for additional storage space.

Should I buy one?

If you are set on having the Volkswagen Up over its cheaper yet mechanically identical siblings from Seat or Skoda, then this is the one for to go for. For us it makes the most sense, because for just an additional £150, it has extra kit that makes it genuinely easier to live with. We’d also suggest going for the £280 optional sat-nav system. 

Despite costing a tad more than a Mii or Citigo, the Up is still very cheap to run. VW claims it’ll achieve 62.8mpg and emit just 105g/km of CO2, meaning road tax will cost just £20 per year. Furthermore, this Look Up falls into insurance group two and gets a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. Alternatively, it's worth considering the more spacious and similarly excellent Hyundai i10.

Matthew Griffiths

Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £9370; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 59bhp; Torque 70lb ft; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 929kg; 0-62mph 14.4sec; Top speed 99mph; Economy 62.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 105g/km, 18%

Join the debate

Comments
11

18 May 2016
You might be able to get comfortable behind the rake only adjustable steering wheel (common amongst city cars I know) but I can't. My wife can and she has done 40k trouble free miles over three and a half years in hers. Had a look at some possible replacements at a motorshow last week but everything else in the class feels like it is made out of paper compared to the Up. Hyundai i10 came closest but still feels a bit budget, which it is of course, they all are. Given that VW spend more on R&D than any other car company and make next to nothing on UPs I can't see how anyone else will topple it. If Ford could get Richard Parry Jones back out of retirement and reinvent the Ka then maybe, but those days are sadly over at the blue oval.

18 May 2016
We've had our 5 door Look up for two weeks and love it. Spacious, doing 60mpg over A and B roads and doesn't feel underpowered unless you're pulling out onto a fast road. Wish it had bluetooth as standard but otherwise far, far better than the awful Juke 1.2 dig-t we had previously. And I'm pretty sure it's group 1 insurance Autocar. For getting around and commuting it's a winner.

18 May 2016
Have they introduced this special edition to shift some metal before the facelift version comes along? It can't be much more than a few weeeks away now.

TS7

19 May 2016
...
catnip wrote:

Have they introduced this special edition to shift some metal before the facelift version comes along? It can't be much more than a few weeeks away now.

I don't have this particular model, but I've been very impressed with the (74 bhp) Groove Up!, terrible name, but at least it doesn't appear anywhere on the car! It was bought to replace an ageing A3 2.0 which broke down 6 times last year, and until I can order something a little more tasty. That said I would consider one of the turbos, as and when available, to use as a runabout in addition to my main car when it arrives. I tend to get 50 mpg everywhere, but that's a result of caning it to keep up with the flow of traffic on fast A-roads and motorways. It loves to rev! Only annoyances are the lack of nearside window switch on the driver's side and lack of a 6-speed 'box - although space and cost were probably factors in its absence.

19 May 2016
But that's all this is on what is now a four year old model. I'm sure it's a fine car, but given the company's huge R&D spend, I would expect something a tad more interesting and exciting with sub 100gm/km CO2 emissions that rivals achieve. The group 2 insurance is likely correct and represents the additional risk / cost of the alloy wheels etc.

19 May 2016
At the end of the day it's a tart-up from the Stinky Car Company. Much as they'd like to whitewash over this period of their history, this was just one example of the unethical culture that is endemic within VW. And even if there really was the will from the top to change, the old oil tanker analogy applies. Personally I would not want to be tarred with their brush.

MrJ

19 May 2016
Well, maybe, but if you follow the news, you will have noticed that VW is not alone in the stink department.

Not that I'm excusing corporate shenanigans, but putting that to one side, the Up and its siblings are excellent small cars.

19 May 2016
pauld101 wrote:

At the end of the day it's a tart-up from the Stinky Car Company. Much as they'd like to whitewash over this period of their history, this was just one example of the unethical culture that is endemic within VW. And even if there really was the will from the top to change, the old oil tanker analogy applies. Personally I would not want to be tarred with their brush.

Your car obviously runs on fresh air and fluffy bunnies.

19 May 2016
[quote=pauld101]Much as they'd like to whitewash over this period of their history, this was just one example of the unethical culture that is endemic within VW.
Can you provide some more examples please, preferably some that make them inexcusably worse than any other car company? I want to know so that I can rule out buying one on ethical grounds. Having spent some time with a new Golf I certainly couldn't rule one out on the strength of a deeply impressive product, so let's hear it… (no hackneyed references to Hitler please).

19 May 2016
So this isn't the facelift then?

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