What is it?
The CrossUp is the fifth in a range of high-riding models from Volkswagen, following on from the earlier CrossPolo, CrossGolf, CrossTouran and recently introduced CrossCaddy.
Despite boasting a more rugged, arguably better appearance than its five door hatchback sibling with beefed-up bumpers, roof rails, unique sill plates and bodyside cladding and a set of standard 16-inch alloy wheels, it is not a genuine off-roader but rather an urban-based crossover that sets out to combine the compact dimensions of one of our favourite superminis along with the elevated seating of a proper small SUV.
With ride height raised by 15mm, the additional seat height of the CrossUp provides the driver with a more commanding view of the road along with greater ease at parking station booths and the like than the standard Up.
But while it is instantly recognisable from the outside, there’s little apart from newly patterned cloth upholstery inside to set the CrossUp apart from other Up models.
Accommodation up front is excellent, but the rear seat lacks for legroom and the rear windows do not wind down but hinge open from the front. There is sufficient boot space for the weekly grocery haul at a nominal 251 litres, extending to 959 litres with the rear seat folded.
What's it like?
The mechanical package is familiar with just one engine on offer at launch: the 1.0-litre sequential injected unit used in other Up models, initially with petrol compatibility but to get a natural gas option later on in a move that Volkswagen suggests will lower running costs to levels challenging those of the early band of electric-powered city cars.
With a modest 74bhp developed at 6200rpm, the compact three-cylinder isn’t exactly overflowing with power and lacks response at lower revs, leading to a relatively relaxed 0-62mph time of 14.2sec. Still, there’s a solid slab of torque once you’ve got it percolating above 3000rpm, translating to acceptable in-gear acceleration on the open road.
Volkswagen’s entry-level petrol engine also operates with a vibrant thrum that gives it real aural character when exercised – something that can’t be said of the silent battery-touting competition.
Drive is channelled through a standard five-speed manual with a conventional foot-operated clutch. Selected markets will also receive a version with an automated clutch.
The in-house produced gearbox has a satisfyingly light action, but it doesn’t like to be rushed across the gates with any great haste. Long gearing helps in achieving a respectable 60.1mpg on the combined consumption cycle, giving the CrossUp average CO2 emissions of 109g/km.
Forget any notion the raised ride height might be aligned to four-wheel drive to give it proper off-road credentials; the latest variant of the Up retains front-wheel drive in a move that gives it a distinct on-road focus as well as ensuring its kerb weight remains just below 1000kg.
Pleasingly direct and light steering combine with the compact dimensions and a tight turning circle to provide the latest variant of the Up with excellent manoeuvrability and quite engaging handling. However, the added ride height appears to have affected the ride, which is not quite as good as standard Ups at city speeds, with sharper vertical movement over broken bitumen. It gets better at higher speeds, though, giving the CrossUp a smoother ride on secondary roads.
Should I buy one?
It is not a game changer, but the CrossUp is a likeable car. It excels in an urban environment where its low speed agility makes it genuinely fun to drive and with long ratios at the top of its gearbox is also capable of eating up miles with surprising maturity at typical motorway speeds. Sadly, though, it is not planned to be be sold in the UK for reasons that Volkswagen is not prepared to reveal right now.
Price £11,751; 0-62mph 14.2sec; Top speed 104mph; Fuel economy 60.1mpg (combined); CO2 109g/km; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power 74bhp at 6200rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual