Volkswagen up! -

Used Car Review

Volkswagen up! GTI, front
Volkswagen up! GTI, side
Volkswagen up! GTI, rear
Volkswagen up! GTI, interior
Volkswagen up! GTI, boot

THE Volkswagen Group city cars - the up!, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii - have amazingly been around virtually unchanged for 11 years.

There have been trim and style changes during that time, and of course, the Citigo and Mii have their own slants on interior and equipment.

But they have all been built in the same factory and are essentially all the same under the skin, using identical 1.0-litre engines driving the front wheels through a five speed gearbox.

They will only seat four because they only have four seatbelts and they're available as both three and five door hatchbacks. As you might expect, they all come with very good build quality and finish in the company's long tradition.

For this appraisal, I'll concentrate on the up! But most of the information applies to the other two as well.

They hold value well secondhand, partly because they are sought after, but also because they were more expensive than competitors when they were new.

Oddly though, they are often not as well equipped as the opposition, and that's a let down.

There has been a raft of special editions and models over the years, all adding extra kit for a little more cash so just make sure you have everything that you want before you buy.

There are four different versions of the same sweet sounding 1.0-litre, three cylinder engine available with 60, 75, 90 or 115bhp and many have start/stop to make that expensive petrol last even longer.

The 60bhp model is fine around town and the local area, but it struggles on longer journeys and on the motorway, even though it can certainly keep up with general traffic flows.

It takes a leisurely 14.4 seconds to reach 60 miles an hour from rest, but like the 75bhp version, is capable of no less than 68mpg in the government comparison figures. That equates to around 55mpg in the real world with careful driving.

The 75bhp unit is noticeably quicker, reaching 60 in 12.8 seconds, and the 90bhp version brings that down to 9.6, with only a 1mpg drop in economy.

However, those more powerful engines are only available in the more expensive High Up model. All the rest have the 60bhp unit.

That said even this lowest power output feels peppy and willing around town, and they all rev sweetly and smoothly when pressed.

The GTI has a turbo helping it to produce115bhp. It's a real hoot to drive covering the 60 sprint in 8.5 seconds and powering on to a theoretical maximum of 122 miles an hour.

Yet it too is capable of excellent economy - 58mpg and a low 110 grammes per kilometre emissions.

Despite the up!'s small outward size, interior space is pretty good for four people, with plenty of legroom and headroom front and rear.

Cubbies and big door pockets give decent storage in the front, but if you carry the manual around with you, the glove box is full.

Boot space compares well with rivals, and while it's not large it can be extended by folding the 50/50 split back seats on most models, which leave a flat load area.

Being a city car it's easy to park and manoeuvre in town, with a tight turning circle and excellent all round vision.

Out on the road, it's good fun to drive thanks to safe, tactile handling and sticky roadholding all helped by quick and precise power steering.

The combination makes it agile and sharp through the corners adding hugely to driver enjoyment.

Yet - and for me as you know, this is one of the most important measures of a good car - it is also refined and very comfortable in a way few other small cars can match.

All later models come with front and side airbags, stereo, four airbags, folding rear seat, steering wheel height adjustment, alloy wheels, air conditioning, sat nav and traction control

But the base Take up! has very limited kit, so if you want a few of the things that make life in the car a bit more enjoyable, you have to move up to the Move up!

And remember, although three door models will be a tad cheaper, a five door is far more practical and better for your back - especially if you have kids.

Pay about £6,800 for a '17 17-reg 60bhp Move up! five door, or £10,925 for a '20 20-reg 75bhp High up! five door.

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