THE revolution in new small cars seems to be carrying on and on as more motorists look to down-size.
That means car makers have to keep on their toes to ensure their latest models offer more than they did first time around.
Volkswagen has done just that with the latest up! three and five-door city car and for the first time are offering a one-litre, three cylinder turbocharged version which will undoubtedly please those drivers looking for a bit more performance.
It originally arrived here in 2011, effectively replacing the VW Fox, and despite a plethora of other new cars turning up on the scene including both group stablemates the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii, the up! has gradually won over a posse of buyers.
This latest up! doesn't really look that too much different from its immediate predecessor - the front, stubby-nosed end remains along with the rather squared-shaped side windows - and all engines are one-litre petrol (again no diesels are offered) with a standard five-speed manual gearbox.
The 59bhp and 74bhp engines remain but the 89bhp turbocharged unit - taken off VW's TSI group ‘shelf' - has been fitted in the highest specification High up! version with the three other trims, the entry-level Take-up! followed by the Move up! and up! Beats.
Obviously much of the underneath running gear on all models has mechanical hardware used in other VW cars and their engineers haven't played around too much with the suspension remaining the same so the car still offers a nice, supple ride and the driver will find the light but accurate steering enjoyable to use.
One tip from me though to prospect buyers - which ever model is chosen opt for it to run on 15-inch wheels rather than the dearer 17-inch alloy wheels because there's less road noise and fuel consumption will be better.
Prices start at £8,995 for the three-door Take up! but for those who will choose wisely (and can afford it) then go for having the new 89bhp turbocharged engine under the bonnet with decent enough price tags of £11,750 for the three-door and £12,455 for the five-door.
This engine does make all the difference in everyday driving in my view, whether being driven mainly in city/urban areas or out on the occasional longer and faster motorway runs.
It has such good low-down torque (ie pulling power of 118lb/ft at between 1,500 to 3,500rpm) and excellent acceleration response of 0 to 62mph in 9.9 seconds should the driver feel inclined yet return a CO2 of 108g/km.
Official combined fuel consumption is 64.2mpg so my return on test of just 60mpg was about par for the course.
The other big plus point for all these latest up! models over its rivals is that for such a small car it provides a quite supple ride and easily soaked up some of those bumps and divets left by the bad weather.
It's agile, both in heavy town traffic and out on the open road, dead easy to drive again because it has nice, light but direct steering and that manual gear change is just like we see in bigger and more expensive VW cars - again light and easy to use but with a real positive feel about it.
This recent glut of three-cylinder one-litre petrol engines being installed in increasing numbers across more cars has lead to some drivers complaining about them being quite noisy with a rather raucous sounding engine.
This is not so with the up! and although most experienced drivers can tell it's a three-cylinder and not the more conventional four there's still hardly any vibrations at low revs and overall it's extremely refined.
Inside the cabin as a driver it's nice to see a straight forward, easy-to-read dashboard with all the main controls sensibly positioned which again helps make it relaxed and fun car to drive whilst the fittings and furnishings are decent enough too with chrome-rimmed switchgear while the plastics are of a decently high standard and better than any rivals in my book.
Overall the cabin has a decent amount of space while the boot is one of the biggest in this City class and naturally with that rear bench dropped forward and the car used as a two-seater there's more luggage space.
Like all the bigger VW cars the up! comes up trumps in terms of safety (it again has the five-star Euro NCAP approval) and security with even the basic models having two front airbags and obviously a buyer opting for one of the slightly more expensive models then extras like stability control and city emergency braking come as part of the package.
Going for the top end spec High up! then naturally it comes with many so-called extras fitted as standard such as heated front seats and a really good, simple to use satellite navigation infotainment system, stop/start, brake regeneration.
Also on the top end spec models drivers can opt to have the £375 option of an automatic emergency braking system where a laser at the front of the car scans the road ahead and automatically applies the brakes if it senses a potential collision immediately ahead. Such an extra safety feature is well worth the outlay in my book.
With the latest up! it's really a case of the old, old story - you only get what you pay for. Across the range the models are slightly dearer than their main rivals but much classier and again residual values will hold up better while like any VW new car they are well designed and engineered.
The up! remains a nice looking and fun car to drive but equally practical for anyone preferring to own and drive a quite small car and it's comfortable, spacious with quality finishing in the cabin.