Volkswagen e-Up Review logo

Volkswagen e-Up Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2014
      Body type
      City car
      Fuel type
      EV
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
Much improved EV city car

Best bits

  • Boosted range makes the e-Up a usable EV
  • Sprightly acceleration and comfortable ride
  • High standard spec

Not so great

  • Still a hefty premium over the petrol equivalent
  • Some cabin elements feeling a little old
  • No proper touchscreen infotainment system

Read by

Volkswagen e-Up Front Side View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen e-Up Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen e-Up Front Side View

Driving

Volkswagen e-Up Charging Port

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen e-Up Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict on the Volkswagen e-Up

"Adding electricity to an existing car usually results in something less appealing, but the reverse is true for the e-Up. The increased range of the revised model means it is more adaptable, while the lively performance and assured handling make it even more capable than the regular car in the city."

Volkswagen e-Up Front Side View

The original e-Up was typical of electric cars of the era. It was far from cheap, and had a battery of a modest capacity, giving it reasonable performance but an official range of only 99 miles - and that was under the old generous NEDC calculations too. 


In 2020 however, Volkswagen gave the Up and its siblings a vigorous shake-up: petrol versions of the Mii and Citigo were dropped in favour of all-electric, with a substantial upgrade to improve performance and range. The Up continues in both petrol and electric form.


What hasn’t changed in the last few years are the bare bones of the Up. It’s still an endearingly-boxy little thing, as charming as it is practical, with a few visual fillips to tidy it up along the way as well as discreet aerodynamic enhancements to help its performance. It’s a testament to the quality of the original design that it still looks so smart - proof if it were needed that functional designs age better. 


It’s more pleasing familiarity on the inside too, where the low-key but attractive cabin provides function and space in equal measure. The dashboard layout is much as before, with the neat grouping of buttons and switches where they’re easy to see and operate, with a simple instrument display to keep you informed on the key details.


The original e-Up made do with a 18.7kWh battery powering a single electric motor, driving the front wheels through a single-speed transmission, and while that was acceptable at the time, the new version shows just how quickly the EV world is moving on. New e-Ups get a 32.3kWh battery - almost double the capacity - powering the same 82PS electric motor, giving an official range of 159 miles under the tougher WLTP measurements. 


Better yet, the driving experience in the electric Up is frequently superior to that of the petrol version. There’s plenty of acceleration at low speeds, you don’t need to change gear and the noise levels are considerably lower too.


The other aspects that made the Up so good to drive aren’t hurt by switching to electric power either. The ride quality remains impressive even on poor urban road surfaces, and the handling is good fun too - the e-Up won’t shy away if you decide to make the most of the whizzy acceleration.


The electric Up requires some compromises compared to the petrol versions - not least a bigger financial investment - but in many circumstances it’s the better option even before you take into account the environmental factors.


If you're looking for the petrol version, you need our Volkswagen Up (2012-) review.

Is the Volkswagen e-Up right for you?

The new e-Up, with its significantly extended range, will fit into the lives of more people as a result. Even so, if daily long journeys are an essential part of your life then this electric car may not be for you. If you spend a lot of time in the city or do many short journeys and need a small car that isn’t lacking in features, the e-Up has a great deal to recommend it.


It’s probably too expensive to be suitable as a first car, with a higher insurance group than the petrol version as a result, but as a second car for short trips or an eco-friendly alternative for singletons or couples who mostly do short journeys the e-Up makes a strong case for itself. 


Do think about what charging provision you can make at home however, if you live in a block of flats, a wallbox is probably out of the question.

What’s the best e-Up model to choose?

The e-Up comes in a single standard specification, which makes life easier for all of us, so if you do buy one new then you don’t have much to decide upon. 


You get plenty of nice toys as standard - climate control, heated seats and windscreen, cruise control, a rear-view camera, nice alloy wheels and smartphone integration. There’s also almost nothing you can add from the options list outside of paint and trim changes. You can add the adjustable boot floor and that’s about it. The same applies to the original version of the e-Up too, so you can buy in confidence knowing that you’ve got a good specification and all the toys you could need.

What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen e-Up?

If you like the idea of an e-Up but really don’t want to own a Volkswagen, then the SEAT Mii Electric and the Skoda Citigo e iV are as close to carbon copies as possible. It’s worth remembering though that the EV versions of the Skoda and SEAT were introduced at the same time as the second generation e-Up, so you’ll have to buy new or search hard for a used example.


If you want to miss out any Volkswagen Group cars, you could consider the Smart EQ Forfour, but with a comparatively small battery pack it is in closer competition with the old e-Up rather than the new one. Renault’s Zoe is more grown up and a bit more expensive with it, but offers even more range and a choice of power outputs and charging speeds. Also look at the retro styled Honda e.

Learn more

Volkswagen e-Up Front Interior

On the inside

Volkswagen e-Up Front Side View

Driving

Volkswagen e-Up Charging Port

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen e-Up Right Side View

Prices, versions and specification

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