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Volkswagen’s Up! an impressive little package


I HAVE always loved budget cars; they provide such an honest, unpretentious way of getting around. There was something different about the latest budget car that I drove, though. It felt anything but cheap; in fact, the VW Up! felt - dare I say it - premium.

Justify yourself!

Now when I say premium I mean when compared with other small cars and even its stable mate the Vivo. The little Up! has proper bigger car-driving sensations, from the damping to the low engine noise and even the clunk of the door, when closing it.

Up-beat exterior

That happy-go-lucky grin on the face of the up! combined with the modern city car rear-end and short overhangs, makes for a car that will be called ‘cute’ the world over, immediately reducing its appeal to some and increasing it to others. I am a fan of the styling, but again, when it comes to aesthetics there will always be a degree of subjectivity.

Interior décor

Inside the Up! is a decent cabin with a broad dashboard and well structured ergonomics. The use of light and dark materials really makes the interior pop. The inside quality, overall, is very good for an A00 segment car; everything feels solid and in-keeping with the times. The infotainment is lacking and although there is the aftermarket Bluetooth device available, the audio and telephony is very soft when played through the system. I rather made use of the AUX input for my audio needs and used the Bluetooth solely for phone calls.

Mk1 can you hear me?

When the Vivo replaced the Citi Golf I never really felt that it captured the heart of the people like the original car did. Now, after driving the Up! I feel that this car more accurately represents basic transportation needs of people, while offering some semblance of ‘cool’ to the equation.

But it’s too small

We’re all a bit American these days, demanding bigger and bigger cars, while the Up! provides something rather more compact at 3 540mm x 1 641mm x 1 489mm,  while only being made available as a three-door.

Well, I took four people for a fair trip in the up! and didn’t hear much in the way of complaints. The interior isn’t very big, I’ll be honest but there is so much light coming in and such a broad dashboard that you feel as if the car is bigger than it really is. The boot is alright at 251 litres, however, if it’s a family car you’re after, look elsewhere as the up! is more suited to those of us without children. 

One litre and no turbo?

I mentioned in my launch story that I felt the 55kW/95Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine would feel dead up at the reef but I’m happy to report that I didn’t find the car frustrating to drive up here (get it?) Performance is of zero significance here, though, however, fuel returns are - with me achieving a figure of 5.1 litres/100km - very impressive.

Value proposition

Okay, my test unit was nudging R160 000 but I could easily knock the sunroof off the options (R9 000) and still have a car with heated seats, cruise control, ABS brakes, two airbags, alloy wheels, park assist, multi-information display, air conditioning, daytime running lights, electric windows and a beefier sound system for around R150 000.


The Up! is probably not practical enough to dethrone the Vivo, however, for Vivo money you can now get that VW badge that so many desire, only now with better quality, more style and better returns at the pumps - if you can deal with that perpetual smile it wears, that is.

Warranty and Service

The little VW comes with a three-year/120 000km manufacturer’s warranty, while a service plan is an optional extra.


Citroen C1 VTi 82 Feel  

Price: R168 900

Fuel consumption: 4.3 litres/100km

Power: 60kW/116Nm


Kia Picanto 1.2 EX

Price: R149 995

Fuel consumption: 5.0 litres/100km

Power: 65kW/120Nm


Article written by Sean Nurse
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