Re­fresh­ingly un­pre­ten­tious

BRIAN BAS­SETT ex­plains why the Move UP! 1.0l may yet be­come VW’s best-seller in South Africa.

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

AS we have said be­fore in this col­umn, the ris­ing cost of mo­tor­ing and the in­creas­ing carown­ing mid­dle class world­wide, has led to this be­ing the great age of the small car in most of the world.

The ex­cep­tions are the United States and Canada, where big­ger is still best and large per­sonal in­comes sup­port this trend. In most of the re­main­der of the world the con­cern is not with size but with qual­ity and com­fort. Volk­swa­gen, the world’s sec­ond largest mo­tor man­u­fac­turer af­ter Toy­ota, has sought to meet this mar­ket need with the re­cent in­tro­duc­tion of the new UP!. I had a chance to spend a few days with this re­mark­able lit­tle mo­tor car cour­tesy of Kevin Pil­lay, dealer prin­ci­pal at Baron’s in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.


Volk­swa­gen has one of the finest industrial de­sign stu­dios in the world and their ve­hi­cles re­flect this. The UP! is 3,54 me­tres long and 1,64 me­tres wide and as I ap­proached the car across the park­ing lot at the deal­er­ship I won­dered if, as a paunchy old man, I would be able to fit into the ve­hi­cle com­fort­ably. Look­ing at the UP! closely, how­ever, I re­alised that I was deal­ing with an in­no­va­tive and clever piece of mod­ern industrial de­sign.

The car is wedge shaped, which al­lows the de­sign­ers to cre­ate good headspace at the rear and by slop­ing the de­sign for­ward at an easy an­gle, to cre­ate big win­dows both front and side which, sup­ported by the elec­tric sun­roof in the model I drove, pro­vides a light, airy in­te­rior.

The rear win­dow dou­bles as the boot lid and cuts away to com­plete the wedge at the rear.

The en­gine cover slopes for­ward and the two head­light mod­ules and a centrally-placed VW badge, to­gether with two fog lights de­velop a pleas­ant rhythm at the front. The de­sign is sup­ported by colour-coded door han­dles and heated side mir­rors and is rounded off by at­trac­tive al­loy wheels (op­tional).


The doors of the UP! are wide, al­low­ing easy ac­cess for all ages. I puz­zled about ac­cess to the rear seats un­til I re­alised that the front seats slide for­ward and make rear ac­cess easy.

As you know I am scep­ti­cal about rear seat­ing space in small cars and bor­rowed my neigh­bour’s two teenage sons once again to as­sist. They fit­ted into the rear seats with ease and lit­tle ad­just­ment was nec­es­sary to the front seats, so the UP! of­fers an as­tound­ing amount of in­te­rior space for a small car. The build qual­ity is of the best and is re­flected in the fine in­te­rior plas­tics and the ro­bust cov­er­ings on the fully-ad­justable, com­fort­able seats.

The dash­board is re­fresh­ingly un­pre­ten­tious, with all di­als placed in such a way that once used to them you can op­er­ate ev­ery­thing from the CD/MP3 two speaker au­dio sys­tem, through Blue­tooth to the air-con­di­tion­ing with­out tak­ing your eyes off the road. The steer­ing is also fully ad­justable, adding to driver com­fort.

Con­trols for the elec­tric win­dows, door locks and side mir­rors are on a con­ve­nient shelf on the driver’s side door. Boot space is limited to 251 litres with the rear seats up. This will take about a week’s shop­ping for a fam­ily of four. The rear seats do, how­ever, fold down in 60; 40 fash­ion and pro­vide up to 951 liters of space of­fer­ing flex­i­bil­ity and once again ac­cen­tu­at­ing the fine ba­sic de­sign, which char­ac­ter­izes ev­ery as­pect of this car.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The UP! has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rat­ing with ABS, Hy­draulic Brake As­sist and an anti-lock brak­ing sys­tem; driver and pas­sen­ger airbags, along with side, head and tho­rax bags. There are seat­belts for all, height-ad­justable head re­straints and a warn­ing buzzer to tell you if any seat­belts are un­fas­tened. The UP! also has re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and is ap­pro­pri­ately alarmed.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The UP! is a city car and ide­ally suited to dash­ing around in traf­fic and avoid­ing col­li­sions with taxis, ar­tic­u­lated ve­hi­cles and moms in enor­mous 4x4 ve­hi­cles, which, I have ob­served, they of­ten find dif­fi­cult to park.

How­ever, on the first evening I had the car I took it on a visit to friends who farm in the Kark­loof and, com­ing back at about 10 pm that evening, I was sur­prised at the com­fort on gravel and the qual­ity of the head­lights, which made driv­ing on a dif­fi­cult road sur­face easy.

In town the UP! is com­posed, re­spon­sive and the eas­i­est thing on four wheels to park.

The three-cylin­der, 999cc petrol en­gine, linked to a fivespeed gear­box puts out 55 kWs of power and 95 Nm of torque, which is more than ad­e­quate for town driv­ing and, should you de­cide to climb steep hills, the gears are easy and pleas­ant to op­er­ate.

Fuel con­sump­tion in the com­bined cy­cle is around 5,5l per 100 km, but so much de­pends on how you drive.

Top speed is about 170 km/h, which hope­fully you will never need to use.

Costs and the op­po­si­tion

The en­try level Take UP! will cost you about R135 000 and the Move UP! I drove just over R140 000 — the cheap­est VW in South Africa.

The car comes with a three­year or 120 000 km man­u­fac­turer’s guar­an­tee and a 12-year anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranty.

Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 15 000 km apart and there is as yet no ser­vice plan.

The UP! is in many ways in a class of its own but if you want to browse, which is never a bad thing, look at a few of the A-seg­ment cars.


The three-cylin­der, 999cc petrol en­gine of the UP! puts out just a lit­tle less same power as a first gen­er­a­tion Ford Ban­tam.

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