What is it?
The smallest and newest VW hatchback going, the long-awaited Up pitches Volkswagen into the city car arena at last, with its minuscule 3540mm of length, its normally aspirated 1.0 litre, three-cylinder, all-alloy, 12-valve, petrol-only engines (diesels will come later) and its projected starting price – when sales start in UK early next year between £8000 and about £12,000.
The car started life as a concept in 2007 with an entirely different mechanical layout, a tiny engine mounted under the rear seat driving the rear wheels, but VW’s technical bosses deemed it too expensive to have a layout so completely different from the rest of its predominantly transverse front-drive cars, and opted for the tried and trusted layout.
There are two engine outputs of the same 1.0 litre petrol triple on offer, a super-frugal stop-start Blue Motion edition with 59bhp delivering 67.1mpg and a 74bhp option delivering 65.5mpg, which we were able to drive. Both versions emit less than 100g/km. There will also soon be a 69bhp model that runs on compressed natural gas (unlikely to be sold in Britain) and VW has already announced a battery-electric version for 2013. There will eventually be diesels, but they don’t have top priority because of their cost and weight. The base petrol version is commendably light at 929kg, ready to go.