The city so­lu­tion

It’s one of the year’s cheap­est and small­est cars – and pound for pound one of the best

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cover Story - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

THE cheap­est new Volk­swa­gen since the orig­i­nal Bee­tle is here.

The $13,990 Up is the first sub-$15,000 car with five-star safety and the first tid­dler you would rec­om­mend to your best friend.

It’s not per­fect, with no chance for an au­to­matic gear­box and Blue­tooth only an op­tion, but it is a tiny tot that feels solid, gets along rea­son­ably well and should be more than just a dis­pos­able car at trade-in time.

It also has a sig­nif­i­cant first for the size and price— a radar-guided anti-col­li­sion sys­tem that can even brake au­to­mat­i­cally at up to 30km/h if it senses an im­mi­nent crash.

Pric­ing for the Up is even sharper than expected, with the bot­tom-line $13,990 three-door car com­ing with re­mote cen­tral lock­ing, elec­tric power steer­ing, air­con and a full-sized spare.

It costs $14,990 to get into the five-door Up— only a $500 ad­van­tage over the re­cently tweaked Ford Fi­esta — with just five ex­tras in­clud­ing spe­cial paint at $500 and Maps+More in­clud­ing Blue­tooth for $500.

The Up (VW would pre­fer we printed the name as Up! but that’s not go­ing to hap­pen) slides in be­low the Golf and Polo, mea­sur­ing 50cm shorter than the Polo and hand­ily un­der­cut­ting its $16,990 start­ing price.

It is likely to spark a rash of truly tiny city car ar­rivals. VW is con­fi­dent it will be pop­u­lar with a range of peo­ple, from first-car buy­ers to se­niors and peo­ple who are usu­ally sec­ond­hand shop­pers.

‘‘ We have seen there is po­ten­tial for this car in Aus­tralia, and it can cre­ate a seg­ment of its own. Peo­ple in Aus­tralia are down­siz­ing more and more. We make it more af­ford­able and bring safety,’’ says VW Aus­tralia manag­ing di­rec­tor Anke Koeckle.


The Up starter looks re­ally good against the tinny In­di­an­made Suzuki Alto at $11,790, the Korean Holden Ba­rina Spark at $12,490 or even a 1.2-litre Nis­san Micra at $13,490.

Things get murkier when you chase down ri­vals for the costlier five-door model, es­pe­cially as the Fi­esta starts at $15,490 af­ter a $1500 price cut that also added ex­tra airbags.

Most peo­ple are go­ing to be go­ing for the $13,990 bot­tom line. The car has all the right stuff to eas­ily jus­tify that sort of spend.

It’s only a four-pas­sen­ger car but that’s what you ex­pect in some­thing 3.5m long weigh­ing in at 880kg.

The only re­main­ing ques­tion is the run­ning cost. VW says it uses 95-oc­tane, not the costlier 98 pre­mium, and Cars­guide ex­pects an im­mi­nent an­nounce­ment of capped-price ser­vic­ing costs for the car. This will def­i­nitely make a dif­fer­ence and also brings VW into line with ri­val baby cars from Korea and Ja­pan.


The Up is a sim­ple lit­tle car with a 1.0-litre, three-cylin­der engine in the nose, a four- seater c enough rea­son spare. W Up was to the p be­gan t con­cep engine But tha mostly in mak and ass

Ther on the in the b VWbr Brakin uses a f inside t im­min brake a

The 55kW/ and VW

cabin that’s just big h for the job, a n able boot and full-sized When the idea for the as first floated as a re­turn peo­ple’s car pack­age that the VW brand, the pt cars were ac­tu­ally reared like the orig­i­nal Bee­tle. at idea passed quickly, y be­cause of the dif­fi­culty ke it work for crash safety sem­bly. ere is noth­ing ad­vanced e tech­nol­ogy front, at least body and chas­sis, but rings the City Emer­gency ng sys­tem as stan­dard. It for­ward-fac­ing radar the wind­screen to de­tect nent col­li­sions and can au­to­mat­i­cally. e engine makes a mea­gre /95Nm but the Up is light W claims 4.5L/100km.


The Up is a box. There’s noth­ing spe­cial at all about it, al­though the de­sign­ers have tried to in­ject a bit of per­son­al­ity with a smi­ley face.

Oth­er­wise it’s about jam­ming the big­gest pos­si­ble cabin into a small car, in­clud­ing a split-fold rear seat, a boot with ad­justable-height shelf to vary the ca­pac­ity, and that full­sized spare.

The cabin is typ­i­cally VW and Ger­manic: ef­fi­cient and not par­tic­u­larly invit­ing. Look around and it has ev­ery­thing you need, with a cou­ple of nice touches— such as the flat­bot­tomed steer­ing wheel— to re­lieve the hard plas­tic and painted metal sur­faces.

The back win­dows don’t roll down, but pop out, which is prob­a­bly not good for rear-seat pas­sen­gers but saves money and al­lows more side space for crash pro­tec­tion.


The Up has al­ready hit the fives­tar stan­dard in Europe – with a spe­cial award for the City Emer­gency pack­age. It only has four airbags, with no head sup­port for the rear, but there is that radar sys­tem, au­di­ble seat belt warn­ings, and the usual ESP and ABS, but with only drum brakes on the rear.


The first im­pres­sion is good. The doors shut with a thunk, the turn­ing circle is tiny, but the boot is sur­pris­ingly roomy.

It’s not a par­tic­u­larly brisk drive, but it gets along well in traf­fic and— pro­vided you’re pre­pared to use the gear­box – is quick enough for subur­ban roads and high­way cruis­ing at 110km/h. The brak­ing is solid, it grips pretty well in cor­ners, and all the con­trols and light and easy to find.

There is some sus­pen­sion clunky over low-speed pot­holes, and it’s never go­ing to win a cor­ner­ing con­test, but the ride smoothes over 80km/h and its fairly quiet.

We’d much pre­fer to have the choice of an au­to­matic, but the Up is what it is.

Com­pare it with its size and price ri­vals and it comes up a win­ner. You can say that it will cost $17,000 to put a fully loaded Up on the road but that would be a tasty lit­tle ve­hi­cle with equip­ment you can­not get in some­thing like an Alto or a Spark.

It feels more sub­stan­tial— read that as safer— than an Alto, Spark or Micra, as well as hav­ing parts and assem­bly work that live up to the Volk­swa­gen badge. It’s not a Polo or a Golf but it’s im­pos­si­ble to build that sort of car for $13,990.

So what you get is an Up that re­sets the bar for the small­est cars sold in Aus­tralia to­day, and in a good way.

It de­serves four Cars­guide stars, not when you think about cars as classy as a Benz C or a Porsche 911, but be­cause of how it re­lates to its di­rect ri­vals. And the way it beats them.


The Up has just joined the short­list for this year’s Car of the Year judg­ing, as well as win­ning a rare four-star tick.

Bring ’em on: The Up earns its four

Cars­guide stars for the way it takes on ri­vals — and sur­passes


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