Excluding the electrically driven and tartan-trimmed versions of the Up, the 59bhp naturally aspirated 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine – with the automatic stop-start and unnoticeable regenerative braking functions together known as Bluemotion – is your only option.
There used to be 74bhp and 89bhp versions of this thrummy motor further up the price list, but no more, presumably at least in part due to Volkswagen’s struggles with WLTP testing. It seems a shame that this was chosen to be the sole survivor of the trio, because it can be painfully slow.
Acceleration from 0-62mph takes 14.9sec, and that’s if you’ve got your foot to the floor and redlining it in every gear. So joining faster roads can be something of a struggle; it’s little wonder that the Up driver is particularly susceptible to bullying on the motorway.
Performance is, however, acceptable in town, where surely it matters most for a car of this kind. You could be forgiven for assuming the engine is a TSI turbo at first, because you can zip away from the lights through first, second and third pretty sharpish.
The most impressive thing, though, is the ride. There’s none of the jiggling or jolting over blotchy roads that you often get in city cars, although the relaxed spring rates do sometimes result in bobbing over big obstacles.
Another side-effect is significant roll in corners, but this isn't an issue, because the amount of grip generated at the front end is impressive – all the more so when you spot the 185-section tyres.
Indeed, the Up is still as nimble as you’d expect of a car with a wheelbase of just 2420mm, almost no overhangs and a kerb weight of less than a tonne, appearing almost to fly around corners, even at completely sensible urban speeds.
The steering is pleasant, being very light but accurate, so it's ideal for tight turns and parking manoeuvres, although it does understandably start to feel rather vague at faster speeds.
And the gearbox, while far from replicating the mechanical delights of, say, the Mazda MX-5's, has a less rubbery shift action and is easier to use than those found in some considerably more expensive cars from other mid-market brands.
Somewhat surprisingly, even this most basic Up doesn’t present a pervading sense of cheapness inside. Perhaps that’s because, rather than in spite of the fact that, large sections of brightly coloured bodywork are present on the doors, in combination with light-coloured sections of the cloth upholstery and the ‘Black Cube 2D upper dashpad’, a kind of carbonfibre-looking plastic panel on the dashboard.
In fact, the only real indicator of the low list price is the lack of any controls on the steering wheel, with the blanked-off button indents lending it the slightly disconcerting air of an unfinished portrait painting.
At least the media set-up next to it is respectable: a 5.0in colour screen, controlled by a row of physical buttons below and a dial either side, with slick software and DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB connection. The latter is tucked away behind the neatly designed smartphone cradle, which adjusts for both width and height to keep your prized possession safe and steady and allow it to serve as your infotainment system.