Car Reviews

2017 Volkswagen up Hatchback Review

Carzone drive’s Volkswagen’s newly-updated city car on Irish roads


Pros: New petrol engine, interior quality, surprising drive

Cons: Cheaper rivals, pop-out rear windows

City car standards have taken a leap forward in recent years, and one of the leading contenders in the class is the Volkswagen up!. With a poky new 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine and an impressive interior for a car of its size, the up! seems like an ideal choice for those who spend most of their time driving in an urban environment. There are more options than ever before to consider in the city car segment however, so does it have enough to stay off cheaper rivals? We drove it in and out of town to find out.

What is it like?

The Volkswagen up! received mild styling updates last year, with larger rear lights and a wider front bumper which lends it more road presence than before. The styling tweaks certainly work well and it’s one of the best looking cars in its class as a result, offering a more polished look than the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii, which are both based on the same platform as the up!. This model has Volkswagen's optional 17-inch ‘Polygon’ alloy wheels for a sportier look, along with a styling pack which adds features like a black roof.

The up! offers one of the most interiors in its class and it feels more like a supermini than a city car when you sit inside, which is rather impressive. Front seat passengers will find it easy to get comfortable with plenty of head and leg room available from the supportive front seats, while the newly-updated dashboard feels well constructed. Another nice touch is how the exterior body colour runs along the doors and arches inside, which really stands out in our ‘Honey Yellow’ coloured test car. Add tall passengers in the rear seats on longer journeys and things can feel cramped however. This is the five-door version but Volkswagen also offers a three door; it’s a little disappointing to note that the rear windows are pop out-style in the five door.

The most notable change to the revised up! is the addition of a new 90hp 1.0-litre turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine. This is the most powerful engine ever featured in the up! and it is well suited to the car, offering decent performance as a result of the light weight chassis. It can accelerate from 0-100km/h in less than 10 seconds which is useful around town, and it has a top speed of 185km/h so it is more suited to motorway driving than ever before. At higher speeds the engine can feel a little out of its depth though.

There aren’t many chassis changes in the revised Up! so it drives very similarly to the previous version. For a car of its size, it’s surefooted at higher speeds and handles confidently, although there is some body roll and road noise on bumpier back roads, which is to be expected. The up! is especially suited to town and city driving thanks to its small dimensions, and it makes ease of tight parking spaces and switching lanes in traffic.

In terms of running costs, the new 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol up! performs very well indeed. Annual motor tax is a lowly €190 thanks to a good emissions rating, and we averaged 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres in fuel economy (circa 50MPG) during our test. The dashboard includes a newly revised screen and buttons which works well and presents basic functions such as radio and music streaming, along with an integrated smartphone holder in the centre of the dashboard. 

Prices for the new up! start from €11,875 for the three door version with the lower power 1.0-litre petrol engine, though we’d recommend spending extra for the five door version for its added practicality. That price puts it over €1400 more than the new SEAT Mii, but more affordable than the Toyota Aygo, so the up! is at the higher end of the city car price spectrum. Specification on the base ‘Take’ model is good with electric windows, rain sensing wipers, LED daytime running lights and Bluetooth standard across the range. This higher specification ‘High’ model gets lots of added features including a leather steering wheel and gearstick, alloy wheels, cruise control, tinted rear windows, electric and heated door mirrors and parking sensors.  

Carzone verdict: 3.5/5

The Volkswagen up! has been one of the best city cars on the market since it was launched six years ago, and the newly updated model only improves its stance for 2017. In terms of style, interior quality and drive with the new 90hp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine, the up! is a clear class leader. It’s also cheap on running costs, though its starting price is considerably more expensive than cars like the new SEAT Mii and Skoda’s Citigo. As mentioned earlier, we’d recommend the five door version, and if you can afford the new TSI engine, you won’t be disappointed.

Test Car Details:

Model driven: Volkswagen up!

Prices from: €11,875

Price as tested: €18,292

Annual Road Tax: €190

Engine: 999cc three-cylinder turbocharged petrol

Power/Torque: 136bhp, 118Nm

Top Speed: 185 km/h

0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual

Body style: Hatchback