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