Volkswagen up! (2012-present)

The cute yet capable Volkswagen up! is an excellent city car with a premium badge

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Low starting price
Spacious inside
Owners report good reliability

Weaknesses 

Steering wheel is only adjustable up and down
Leans a bit too much in corners
Jerky automatic gearbox
Best New Discount

Volkswagen UP Hatchback 1.0 high up 5dr asg [start stop]

Total RRP £13,240

Your quote £11,882

You Save £1,358

Proving that city cars don’t need to feel cheap and nasty, the VW up! is a surprisingly spacious runaround that’s been updated with a modern interior and more powerful engine.

Despite a low official price, starting at £9,325, it can seat four adults without making them feel too squeezed - on short trips at least. Access to the rear seats is easier if you buy the five-door version rather than the three-door up!

You'll have to make do with pop-out windows in the back, which only open a fraction, no matter which up! you buy

Short town journeys are where the little VW is best. It’s light, agile and fun to drive - particularly with the new 1-litre turbocharged engine, which is lively and zippy. The short bonnet and vertical rear bootlid make it easy to park, even without any sensors while the 251-litre boot is big enough for most shopping trips or school bags, and considerably larger than most rivals, such as the 168-litre Toyota Aygo.

The up! is also the best city car for motorway journeys. It’s stable and powerful enough for 70mph speeds, and your teeth won't be chattering over potholes thanks to comfortable suspension. This can’t be said about cheaper rivals like the Suzuki Celerio, Vauxhall Viva and Kia Picanto.

However, it's no match for a larger car on the motorway. If you cover high mileages, you’re better off spending a bit more on a quieter and more comfortable small such as a VW Polo, Ford Fiesta or Seat Ibiza, which are larger than city cars like the up!

Inside, the up! is well-built and designed but a little bare because most models rely on you to supply the technology. Connect your iPhone or Android phone wirelessly with Bluetooth and it becomes your music player and - it almost goes without saying - hands-free phone. Rather stingily, you have to pay more for a USB port - to keep your phone charged - on the cheapest Take up! model.

An optional phone holder, which is included as standard on more expensive up! models, takes the idea of providing your own hardware a step further. Cars equipped with this holder will allow your phone to run a special VW app when it's connected to the car. Your phone screen then becomes a sat-nav and radio station selector. You can enter names, addresses and music tracks by drawing letters on the screen.

However, reviews of the app are poor, and you're probably better off using a different navigation app that allows you to download maps to avoid data charges (like Google maps), or a dedicated sat-nav app.

This technology has also been introduced to the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii, which share the same mechanical parts and virtually the same design as the VW. The Skoda and Seat are typically a little cheaper to buy but finance costs tend to be virtually the same. Yu'll only get the most powerful turbocharged engine with 90hp - which is best suited to motorway driving - on the up!, though.

Other rivals include the style-focused Fiat 500, which is considerably more expensive. The Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 lack the space and smooth ride of the up!.

A special edition up! beats (beats up! sounded too aggressive) comes with a 300-watt Beats audio stereo. An electric version, called the e-up!, is smooth and silent to drive, but a good deal more expensive, which makes it uncompetitive, compared with larger alternatives including the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf.

The up! was given a full five stars when independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2011. Since then the tests have been made tougher, so it’s not necessarily safer than some of the latest cars with four stars. it's also worth remembering that the scoring is adjusted for different sizes of car. So a five-star family hatchback, such as the VW Golf will generally be safer than a five-star city car like the up!

Last Updated 

Friday, July 6, 2018 - 16:00

Key facts 

Warranty: 
Three years/60,000 miles
Boot size: 
251 litres
Width: 
1,645mm
Length: 
3,600mm
Height: 
1,478mm
Road Tax (min to max): 
£0 to £140 in first year, £140 thereafter / Pre-April 2017 cars: £0 to £20

Best Volkswagen UP for... 

Volkswagen Take up! 1.0 60PS BlueMotion Technology 5dr
The most economical up! cars have BlueMotion Technology (BMT badges). This model is exempt from road tax. It's cheap but basic in Take up! trim
Volkswagen Move up! 1.0 75PS 5dr
Move up! cars include air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, split-folding rear seats and remote central locking. The mid-range engine is cheap and can handle motorway speeds.
Volkswagen Move up! 1.0 TSI 3dr
The up!'s new turbocharged engine is the quickest. High up! trim is meant to look the sportiest but Move up! is much cheaper, no slower and has the same size 15in alloy wheels.
Volkswagen Take up! 1.0 60PS 3dr
The cheapest, most basic Take up! lacks air-conditioning and its back seat folds down in one piece only, so you can’t be as flexible in mixing passengers with extra luggage space. Plus, the three-door is less versatile than the five-door.

Volkswagen UP History 

  • October 2011 Order books open for the Volkswagen up! in the UK
  • August 2012 ASG automatic gearbox added to range
  • May 2013 Recall of 6,395 Jan-Mar 2013 cars for airbag fault warning issue
  • January 2014 Electric version of the up!, called the e-up!, goes on sale
  • January 2015 Street up! and Club up! trim versions join range
  • February 2015 Recall of 526 VW Polo and e-up! cars for airbag problem
  • July 2016 Updated VW up! goes on sale with a tweaked design and new higher-tech interior. The up! beats edition with 300W stereo joins the range.

Understanding Volkswagen UP car names 

  • UP
  • Trim
    High up!
  • Engine
    1.0 TSI 90PS
  • Gearbox
    5spd
  • Trim
    Each trim level offers a different amount of standard equipment. The cheapest version with the least kit is the Take up!, followed by the Move up! and then High up!. Cross up! looks more rugged. There's also the up! beats special edition and e-up! electric car.
  • Engine
    All VW up! engines are the same size - 1.0-litres, but their power output varies and is given in horsepower, which is also known as PS. The TSI label indicates that the engine is turbocharged for more power without too much extra fuel consumption. Other engines are badged BlueMotion Technology (sometimes shortened to BMT), indicating that it has features that improve economy and reduce CO2.
  • Gearbox
    5spd indicates that the car has a five-speed manual gearbox. Automatic cars have what's known as an ASG gearbox.

Volkswagen UP Engines 

Petrol: 1.0 60PS, 1.0 75PS, 1.0 90PS
Electric: e-up! 

The Volkswagen up! is fitted with a 1-litre petrol engine, which is available in a number of different versions that have slightly different power outputs, fuel economy and performance figures.

At the top of the range is the most powerful version with 90 horsepower (hp). Volkswagen tends to refer to 90PS, which is a virtually identical measure. This engine is turbocharged to boost power without a big increase in fuel consumption, making it the quickest up!. It zips round town with an energy that continues all of the way up to motorway speeds. The main downside to this model is the cost: the list price is over £11,000, so even with discounts, it's an expensive choice of city car.

The mid-range model with 75hp is best for buyers on a budget. It provides steady acceleration and can cope on faster roads, cruising along at 70mph as quietly as you could reasonably expect from a city car, with a thrum from the engine and the sound of wind buffeting the up!. In contrast, you have to rev the least-powerful 60hp hard to make decent progress, either in town or on the open road.

You have the option of an automatic gearbox, but we wouldn't recommend it. It's quite a basic version, which Volkswagen calls ASG, using a computer and electronic controls to dip the clutch and change gear, just as a driver would. It doesn't operate as smoothly as either a driver or a more sophisticated automatic gearbox, making the drive clunky and jerky.

Finally, there’s the electric-powered e-up!, which is actually quite fast and nippy. It does face the same limitations as other electric cars, though, chief among them a relatively short range (no more than 100 miles) before the battery needs recharging. It's expensive too.

FuelOfficial fuel economyPowerAcceleration (0-62mph)Top speed
1.0 60PSPetrol62.8-68.9mpg60hp14.4sec100mph
1.0 75PSPetrol61.4-67.3mpg75hp13.2sec106mph
1.0 90PS TSIPetrol64.2mpg90hp9.9sec116mph
e-up!Electricityn/a82hp12.4sec80mph

Volkswagen UP Trims 

Take up!, Move up!, High up!, up! beats, e-up!

The trim levels dictate how much standard equipment is fitted to your VW up! You can also create your own specification by paying for many options individually.

Buyers on a very tight budget should consider the cheapest Take up! version of VW’s city car. Steel wheels with plastic covers and black side mirrors make it look a bit plain, but it does have DAB digital radio, remote central locking and front electric windows. Safety equipment includes hill hold function, that helps stop the car rolling back on hill starts, and Isofix mounting points for child seats.

At £1,000 more - before any discounts - the Move up! is a much more appealing choice, through the inclusion of standard air conditioning alone. It also has the important Composition Colour System - the dashboard software that allows you to plug in your smartphone so it can be used to control the music in your car. This also brings a USB port. The Move up! also has a split-folding rear seat so you can increase luggage space and seat at least one passenger in the back at the same time.

The changes to the up! beats model are less subtle but only add around £400 to the price. The stereo is replaced with a 300W Beats audio system, which comes with plenty of the brand's red and grey logos inside and outside the car, coloured door mirrors, a grey and red decal at the bottom of the door, alloy wheels with red caps at their centre and patterned seats. The stereo's subwoofer is built into the car's spare wheel well, so a tyre repair kit replaces the spare.

It costs almost £1,500 to upgrade to a High up! car, which makes it expensive, especially considering you could have a bigger and better supermini, such as a Ford Fiesta or VW Polo for the same money. At that price, they wouldn't have as much equipment as the High up!, though, which builds on the Move up! with the ability to use your phone as a sat-nav, a leather steering wheel, mood lighting and heated seats. Outside, the car is meant to look sportier thanks to front fog lights and a unique alloy wheel design.

The e-up! is effectively its own trim level and only available as a five-door. It’s very expensive for such a small car, but does at least have all the toys, including climate control, cruise control, LED daytime running lights, 15-inch alloys, a heated windscreen, heated seats, a leather steering wheel, Bluetooth and satellite navigation.

Volkswagen UP Reliability and warranty 

Throughout its life, the Volkswagen up! has had a reasonable reputation for reliability that's no worse than average. Volkswagen owners have also recently been finding that their experience is increasingly matching up to the company's claims about its superior build quality: it was ranked 6 out of 26 manufacturers for reliability in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

The car's straightforward design and mechanical parts help to reduce repair costs if anything does break. The warranty is fairly standard, covering the car for three years or 60,000 miles if you cover that distance sooner. There’s better news when it comes to the e-up! – its battery is separately guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles.

Used Volkswagen UP 

If you're looking for a used model, then don't simply restrict yourself to the VW up!. Until 2016, the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii were as near as identical cars, apart from the different badging. This gives you a greater chance of finding your ideal car with the perfect specification at the right price, particularly as the up! tends to holds its value a little better than the other two cars, making it a more expensive buy.

There's a bit more of a difference with brand new cars, since the up! has been updated with a new interior, as well as trim and engine options, but these won't be very commonplace as used cars until next year at the earliest.

A popular choice among new and used buyers is the VW Move up! which has combined a good level of equipment - including air conditioning and split-folding rear seat - with an affordable price for years. But if you're looking at cars that are more than two years old, then you could buy a better-equipped High up! for a few hundred pounds more that has heated door mirrors and the now-discontinued portable sat-nav, which clips in to the top of the dashboard. It's not the most elegant solution and the screen is small, but it works well. It's also available on the Skoda and Seat cars.

Also better value than when they were new, are the long line of special edition cars that tended to come with unique paint colours, special alloy wheels and jazzed-up seat cloth. They were more expensive when new but tend to fall to the price of the rest of the range on the used market. For example, Rock up! edition cars, complete with fetching racing stripe, are currently available for sub £7,000 if you don't mind having a year old car.

If you’re considering the electric-powered e-up! as a second car or urban runaround, then you can save around half on the new car price by buying a two-year-old example. The only caveat is that this car hasn’t sold in big numbers so you may not have many examples to choose from at any given time.

Volkswagen UP Prices

Volkswagen UP High Up

1.0 high up 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,719

You could save up to: £1201

1.0 high up 3dr [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £11,008

You could save up to: £1232

1.0 high up 3dr asg [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 67.3mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £11,554

You could save up to: £1286

1.0 high up 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £11,083

You could save up to: £1237

1.0 high up 5dr [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £11,336

You could save up to: £1264

1.0 high up 5dr asg [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 67.3mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £11,882

You could save up to: £1358

Volkswagen UP Move Up

1.0 move up 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,304

You could save up to: £1061

1.0 move up 3dr [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,593

You could save up to: £1092

1.0 move up 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,668

You could save up to: £1097

1.0 move up 5dr [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,921

You could save up to: £1164

Volkswagen UP Take Up

1.0 take up 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,853

You could save up to: £467

1.0 take up 3dr [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,606

You could save up to: £994

1.0 take up 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,217

You could save up to: £503

1.0 take up 5dr [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £8,970

You could save up to: £1030

Volkswagen UP Up Beats

1.0 75ps up beats 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,294

You could save up to: £921

1.0 75ps up beats 3dr [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,367

You could save up to: £1168

1.0 75ps up beats 3dr asg

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £11,143

You could save up to: £992

1.0 75ps up beats 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,664

You could save up to: £951

1.0 75ps up beats 5dr [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,731

You could save up to: £1204

1.0 75ps up beats 5dr asg

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £11,513

You could save up to: £1022

1.0 up beats 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,854

You could save up to: £886

1.0 up beats 3dr [start stop]

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £9,934

You could save up to: £1126

1.0 up beats 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 64.2mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,224

You could save up to: £916

1.0 up beats 5dr [start stop]

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 68.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £10,298

You could save up to: £1162

Volkswagen UP Up GTi

1.0 115ps up gti 3dr

  • Doors 3
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 58.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £13,217

You could save up to: £833

1.0 115ps up gti 5dr

  • Doors 5
  • Fuel petrol
  • Economy 58.9mpg
  • Gears manual

Starting at: £13,581

You could save up to: £869