Volkswagen Up! - A versatile city car

The Volkswagen Up! is a small but versatile city car, combining sharp and agile handling with distinctive yet relatively plain body design. The Up! features the latest Volkswagen technologies and proves that good things can come in small packages.

The Volkswagen Up! came into production in 2012 and replaced the outgoing Volkswagen Fox. The Up! at first glance can look a little plain and unspectacular, but after a while, you realise it's pretty cool and trendy. When it was first released, the Up! was one of the best small city cars on sale in the UK and could rival just about any other in its class, not only in performance but also class-leading technology and build quality.

Over the years Volkswagen has improved and modified the Up! to include the latest technologies, increased space and practicalities and fuel-efficient engines. There are now six main trim levels to choose from; Up!, Beats, White Edition, Black Edition, R-Line and the performance model GTI. The is also a new all-electric version called the Volkswagen e-Up!, which we will go over in a separate review.


The Volkswagen Up! is pitting itself amongst some solid competition, with rivals such as the Toyota Aygo, Fiat 500, Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 breathing down its neck. Volkswagen has recently given the Up! a mid-life facelift to help maintain its position as one of the class-leading small city cars available today.

Continue reading the yoauto review to help you decide if the Volkswagen Up! is the right car for you. If the Up! does not tick all of your boxes, then don't forget to visit our Used Car Buying page, where you will find thousands of cars available across the UK at excellent prices.

Engines, Power and Performance

The Volkswagen Up! has had various engines in its line-up over the years but now Volkswagen has decided to reduce down to just a couple of options. The main engine, which all but the performance GTI model use, is a 1-litre three-cylinder petrol unit. It develops 60hp and will get from 0-62mph in 14.9secs not quick, but it is a city car designed for slow-moving traffic not racing around a track. This engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission as standard with no option to have an automatic transmission.

The GTI model shares the same 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, but power has been tweaked up to 115hp. The extra power will propel the VW Up! from 0-62mph in 8.8secs and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard. The GTI offers one of the most exciting driving experiences you are likely to have in a car so small and will keep you smiling from ear to ear.


There is a three or five-door body style, and all have front-wheel-drive (FWD). The suspension and ride is soft and the Up! absorbs bumps and potholes with relative ease and minimal vibration. It grips tremendously well when going around corners at higher speeds with little body roll, especially in the GTI model which is set lower than the standard Up! models. The steering is light which makes manoeuvring around towns and into car parking space easy yet weighted just enough to make you feel in control giving the driver good feedback.

Interior Quality and Technology

The Volkswagen Up! is the smallest and cheapest Volkswagen model on sale today but it is still well equipped with premium technology and materials. The build quality is second to none in the small city car market, making the Up! the class leader when it comes to interior fit and finish.


All Up! models come with a selection of technical features such as; a 5-inch colour composition screen with DAB Radio, Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone navigation interface. Rather than having a touchscreen with a full working infotainment system, the Up! allows you to connect your smartphone via a dash-mounted phone cradle. You can then use either your direct smartphone features or Volkswagens designated apps to play your music or sat-nav.

The front seats are supportive and feel nice and firm, without being too firm and keep you securely in place when going around corners. There is plenty of adjustment as each Up! model comes with height adjustment as standard. The steering wheel and dashboard controls and buttons are all laid out within easy reach and sight of the driver.


which I would recommend getting and that is the 'Cruise and Park Pack'. As part of this pack, you get rear parking sensors, rear-view parking camera and cruise control for a small cost of just £440. None of the trim levels get these features as standard, so it is undoubtedly worth it.

Space, Practicality and Safety

The Volkswagen Up! is a surprisingly spacious car given its size, especially in the front where both driver and passenger will find plenty of legroom and headroom. Even those over 6ft should have little difficulty. The front seats have plenty of variable adjustment to allow extra ease to find a relaxing and comfortable driving position.


In the rear again passengers will find a generous amount of legroom and headroom, mainly due to the boxy body style of the Up! and the fact that the Up! has only two seats in the rear. The Up! is available as a three-door or five-door version.

There are various useful storage compartments in the Up!, such as large door-pockets a glovebox and a couple of cupholders, one in the front and one in the back. The Volkswagen Up! has one of the more spacious boot areas of the current crop of city cars, with a capacity of 251-litres and up to 959-litres with the rear seats folded down.


The Volkswagen Up! achieved a 3-star rating from Euro NCAP when it was safety tested in 2019, with the main issue being the lack of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) either as standard or as an option. All models get multiple airbags front and rear, lane assist, hill assist and Electronic Brake pressure Distribution (EBD) and Traction Control System (TCS)as standard.

Overall the Volkswagen Up! is one of the best built, practical city cars on the market today, thanks to its fuel-efficient engine and excellent performance (when selecting the GTI model).

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Stuart Porro

Stuart is a nationally and internationally recognised automotive content creator. Reviewing cars for some of the biggest names in the four wheeled world, you can catch him right here on Yoauto.
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