Volkswagen Up logo

Volkswagen Up

hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello
hello

1/10

hello

2/10

hello

3/10

hello

4/10

hello

5/10

hello

6/10

hello

7/10

hello

8/10

hello

9/10

hello

10/10

1 / 10

heycar review

      Launch year
      2012
      Body type
      City car
      Fuel type
      Petrol
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Still a classy city car”

Best bits

  • Feels posh despite the price
  • Good to drive and impressive ride quality
  • Low fuel and insurance costs, holds its value well too

Not so great

  • Single petrol option on new cars
  • Automatic on used cars is best avoided
  • Mii and Citigo are cheaper

Read by

Volkswagen Up Front Side View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen Up Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Up Front Side View

Driving

Volkswagen Up Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Up Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The story of Volkswagen’s Up city car comes in two parts. Back in the heady days of 2012 (remember them?) the Up was launched in the UK and rightly shook up the city car sector, bringing a level of quality and maturity that had not been seen in the sector before."

Volkswagen Up Front Side View

The Up was the main act in a trio that included the SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo. Much like the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 siblings, the Volkswagen Group trio shared a body structure, almost all the mechanicals and the basic layout of the interior, with only some engine choices, specification and visual elements to distinguish them. As is usually the way, the Volkswagen was the smartest of the three, and you paid a premium for it too.


Things changed in 2020 however, as the Mii and Citigo went all-electric, ditching the petrol options altogether. The Up still gives you the choice of petrol or electric, but there’s now only one petrol option for the regular Up alongside the almost twice as powerful Up GTI.


Much of what made the Up so good back in 2012 remains today. From the outside the design tells its own story. A squared-off box with the purpose of maximising interior space, with tiny overhangs front and rear, a short bonnet and a near-vertical tailgate to boost the boot space as well as making it easy to judge the car’s extremities when reversing. Despite its age, the Up still looks smart. It received a mild facelift for 2020 with different badges and smarter bumpers, but it’s the same shape and it still cuts it.


There’s not much in the way of new news to report on the inside either. The basic layout remains as it was, for good and bad. The Up has a slim dashboard and centre console, and keeps all the important stuff like the heating and ventilation controls, key switches and audio buttons right in the centre. The dials are smart but understated too, and although fancy TFT instrument displays are the thing these days, there’s something pleasingly simple about a trio of analogue dials.


The realigned engine range for 2020 means the Up is essentially limited to a single engine option - the 60PS version of the 1.0-litre three cylinder unit, with 95Nm of torque. It’s good enough for the city, but get out onto the open road and it is less comfortable. Pre-2020 versions of the Up came with a wider engine choice - there was the 75PS version that added some useful extra urge at higher speeds, and later in the Up’s life there was a 90PS turbocharged version that gave it genuinely useful performance.


The driving experience remains one of the Up’s trump cards. It rides well over poor road surfaces - as long as you don’t go for the massive alloy wheel options - and it’s surprisingly fun to drive, with engaging steering, plenty of grip and well-sorted suspension. No one really expects city cars to be fun to drive, which makes the Up’s ability something of a bonus.


Time and the competition have moved on since the Up first arrived, but it remains competitive as well as desirable. The limited choices of the current range are a frustration, but that means dipping into the used market might get you exactly the car you want. 


So yes it’s pretty much the oldest city car on the market. But it still makes a compelling case for itself. It still looks smart, is a great drive in and out of the city, and feels like a quality product, even if the basic design is getting on a bit

Is the Volkswagen Up right for you?

With just the one engine option available on a new Up, it is more suited to the city than frequent longer trips out of it. It’s also a strict four-seater, so if you need to fit five people inside on occasion then it might be best to look elsewhere. What the Up does well is bring a bit of style and class to the sector where jazzy colours and infantile model names are more commonplace.


Anyone looking for a first car, whether it’s for themselves or a loved one, would do well to choose the Up, given it is easy to drive and comes with a good standard specification. It’s also not so quick it will get an inexperienced driver into trouble. The Up would also make an excellent second-car runabout for solo or two-up trips.

What’s the best Up model to choose?

With just a single engine option (other than the considerably more expensive Up GTI) on new cars there’s not much to think about on that front. On used examples, the 75PS is more useful out of town compared to the standard 60PS engine, while the 90PS turbocharged unit is the best of the bunch, although it was only available on more expensive models. The automated manual gearbox is also best avoided.


As for trim levels, the basic Up comes with more than you might expect, with things like air conditioning and alloy wheels as standard, so there’s no shame in going for the cheapest option. Further up the range the Up Beats adds a more powerful audio system, but we’d skip the R-Line as the bigger alloys hurt the ride quality. On used models there are a myriad of models and special editions over the years, but we’d suggest looking at the Move Up as a minimum, with the High Up bringing extra luxury and Up Beats with the better audio system.

What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen Up?

If you like the idea of an Up but for some reason dislike Volkswagens, then the SEAT Mii and the Skoda Citigo are the closest you’re going to get. However, neither of those options are available as new cars with a petrol engine anymore, although you may find late low-mileage used or pre-reg examples still for sale.


Another trio, this time the Peugeot/Citroen/Toyota triplets in the form of the 108. C1 and Aygo offer a similar low-cost but big value take on the city car, although they are not quite as sophisticated to drive or a cabin that’s as nice to be in. A top choice in the city car sector is the Hyundai i10, which isn’t quite as nice to drive but is more spacious inside and is well-built.

Learn more

Volkswagen Up Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen Up Front Side View

Driving

Volkswagen Up Rear View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Up Left Side View

Prices, versions and specification