From £8,340
The entry-level Take Up is the essence of a small, cheap Volkswagen.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Up

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

12 March 2012
Volkswagen Up 1.0 60 Take Up

What is it?

The low power version of the city car of the moment, tested here in its most basic trim, the Take Up. It produces 59bhp and represents what you get for the £7995 starting price that Volkswagen is happy to trumpet.

You get a thrummy 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, a five-speed manual gearbox, three doors (a five-door variant will be available in late summer), and that’s about it. Air-con and electric windows aren’t offered, not even as an option. If you want them, you’ll need to choose a Move Up model – a £975 premium – which carries both as standard.

Sadly, Volkswagen’s City Emergency Braking system isn’t available on the Take Up, a shame given the ability for the £255 option to reduce the likelihood of low-speed rear-end shunts.

What’s it like?

Although the 59bhp model tested appears substantially slower on paper than the 74bhp model, it doesn’t really feel it. It will take 14.4sec to reach 62mph, against 13.2sec for the high power model, and top speed is 99mph, compared to 106mph. Even so, there’s no disguising that this is a slow car, with overtakes requiring planning ahead.

It needs working hard to pull away, but once on the move, it’s no struggle to keep up with the traffic flow on A- and B-roads. However, to do so requires judicious and frequent use of the five-speed gearbox. Peak power arrives at 6000rpm, 600rpm shy of the redline, while torque reaches its zenith at 3000rpm. The latter figure is particularly useful around town.

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The eager three-cylinder buzz – reminiscent of an angry hornet’s nest - is surprisingly addictive, but while the noise levels can be tamed at town and city speeds, it will become tiresome on a motorway jaunt.

In all other respects, the low power Up is identical to the high power model. It rides well at low and high speeds. The pliant suspension causes a fair degree of roll through the bends. The steering is more suited to the urban crawl than high speed cornering. It is very light, and the turning circle is small. Despite the vagueness of steering, there is plenty of grip and it resists understeer well, even with the 165-section tyres fitted to the Take Up.

The Up’s brakes offer lots of feel and are very strong, with stopping power that’s easily able to surpass the grip supplied by the narrow tyres. Braking from speed with force will cause the ABS to kick in with surprising ease.

Should I buy one?

If the Take Up was available with City Emergency Braking as an option, the answer would be an unequivocal yes. The 59bhp version of the 1.0-litre engine gives such a small amount of noticeable performance away, it seems to make a mockery of the 79bhp unit.

Of course, your choice of engine is intrinsically linked to how much equipment you want. The 59bhp model is only available in the Take Up and Move Up. The 79bhp version is reserved for the High Up, Up White and Up Black models – models which range from £10,300 to £11,100.

So if you’re happy with an interior equipment list that’s sparsely populated – and many buyers are – the 59bhp Take Up represents the essence of a small, cheap Volkswagen.

Stuart Milne

Volkswagen Up 1.0 60 Take Up

Price: £7995; Top speed: 99mph; 0-62mph: 14.4sec; Economy: 62.8mpg; CO2: 105g/km; Kerb weight: 929kg; Engine: 3 cyls, 999cc, petrol; Power: 59bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 70lb ft at 3000; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Join the debate


12 March 2012

I think it does VW shame that safety options (City Emergency Braking in this case) are only available on more expensive models. Safety should be consistent across the entire range of any vehicle, and not just a luxury for those who can afford a higher trim level.

12 March 2012

I wish Autocar was a bit more careful with their snaps. The pics in this so-called 59bhp 'base' version feature costly alloy wheels and the interior snap is the gloss panel only available on the super-expensive High Up! model, at ten-thou' something. Or what about simply pointing this out? I had a nose around a VW forecourt yesterday afternoon and had a squint at a base model Up, finished in white. Incredibly dowdy with standard bin lid wheels. £500 too much.

12 March 2012

[quote Velvet Munchkin]I had a nose around a VW forecourt yesterday afternoon and had a squint at a base model Up, finished in white. With its standard wheels this Up looked incredibly dowdy.[/quote]

That must have been the 'Down' model

12 March 2012

I can see the point of an entry level Up, but the thing is, the identical Mii and Citigo cost a lot less still, and in this sector, that really counts. In my opinion, the Up makes the most sense in higher trim levels and the upcoming GT should be great. But if I were looking to buy a more basic Up, I'd probably find myself in a Skoda or SEAT dealership instead.

12 March 2012

[quote Fidji]In my opinion, the Up makes the most sense in higher trim levels and the upcoming GT should be great[/quote]

Indeed. I am anticipating going for the VW Smack my Bitch Up! when it appears in 2013.

12 March 2012


The higher output engine is 75hp not 79hp as quoted

59hp and 75hp engines have the same torque output - no mention

Bin lid covers are perfect on a base car as no alloys to damage and 4 new covers are only £45

The Up may be £500 more than the Seat and Skoda vesions but easily recovered at resale

Take Up interior is dull but so are the interiors of the Polo and the Golf in all but the higher specs

Yes the dasboard pictures are for the higher model at £10k

12 March 2012

[quote Autocar]The 79bhp version [/quote] news to me.

12 March 2012

I wish more manufacturers would pare their cars back to this sort of spec and sell them at budget prices. Imagine what the likes of a Hyundai i10 would cost with none of the guff they stick on them.

As for the UP, I have to agree with others. Personally for the saving, I would choose the SEAT or the Skoda in preference. I can't see after a couple of years ownership that the extra retained value will be that much more on the VW.

12 March 2012

[quote TegTypeR]I wish more manufacturers would pare their cars back to this sort of spec and sell them at budget prices[/quote]

Me too. Not many budget car buyers care about Bluetooth connectivity, alloys, body coloured bumpers and electric windows. And the ones that do can spec it as an option. All superminis should have a bare bones entry level version available.

12 March 2012

The bit that sends alarm bells for me is "It needs working hard to pull away,". City cars spend a lot of their time pulling away...

Also, re the anti-lock, that'll be a real pain - my previous car (a Jazz) had a similar habit, most anoying, prevalent over poor road surfaces in particular.

I like the idea of wind-up windows, I'd be happy to go back to them any time.


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