Fun to drive, will­ing to work

BRIAN BAS­SETT gets dusty in the new Volk­swa­gen cross up! 1-litre

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

VOLK­SWA­GEN is now the world’s largest car­maker and has at­tempted to meet the chang­ing needs of a world car mar­ket in tran­si­tion with a wide range of mod­els cater­ing to cus­tomer needs. One of the ar­eas of great­est need at the mo­ment is for a durable, re­li­able and well-de­signed town car, which will of­fer both ex­cel­lent fuel con­sump­tion and at­trac­tive prac­ti­cal­ity, but which is also fun to drive.

To meet this need, Volk­swa­gen has de­signed and built the up! range of cars and in­tro­duced th­ese to the South African mar­ket, first as a three-door, then a five door and fi­nally the cross up!, a small cross­over with the same me­chan­i­cals as the other two mod­els. Our ap­pre­ci­a­tion goes to Keith Abra­hams, dealer prin­ci­pal of the award-win­ning Barons deal­er­ship in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for al­low­ing us a few days with the ve­hi­cle.


The cross up! has a more rugged and an over­all bet­ter ap­pear­ance than its five-door sib­ling; with more ro­bust bumpers, roof rails, prom­i­nent sill plates and body cladding. The en­gine cover slopes for­wards and the two head­light mod­ules and a cen­trally placed over­sized VW badge, to­gether with two fog lamps lower down, cre­ate a pleas­ant for­ward rhythm.

The cross up! is box shaped al­low­ing the max­imi­sa­tion of in­te­rior space, while the rear, glazed tail­gate at­tracted quite a good deal of at­ten­tion from women in shop­ping car parks. The de­sign is sup­ported by colour-coded door han­dles, elec­tric side mir­rors in matt sil­ver and an at­trac­tive set of 16-inch takkies.


The cross up!’s in­te­rior is of classlead­ing qual­ity. In the red ve­hi­cle we drove, the out­lin­ing of the in­te­rior and dash in red was quite stun­ning. The front seats are ad­justable and the driver’s seat has a height ad­just­ment. The ro­bustly up­hol­stered front seats are firm and flat, but hold their oc­cu­pants well in the corners. Pity the steer­ing has only a height ad­just- ment and no reach, but by ma­noeu­vring the driver’s seat this can be over­come.

For­ward vis­i­bil­ity is bril­liant be­cause the up!’s pil­lars don’t ob­struct the view and rear vis­i­bil­ity is al­most as good be­cause the up!’s pil­lars are thin and its square shape makes judg­ing its corners easy. The con­trols are sen­si­bly laid out with eas­ily-read­able, ana­logue speedome­ter, rev counter and fuel gauge in front of the driver, with a dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion panel below. I liked the piano black in­serts on the steer­ing and in the cen­tre con­sole, which houses the CD-Aux-ra­dio con­trols, as well as con­trols for the ex­cel­lent air-con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. There is also a 12 v plug for your tech toys.

The rear seats pro­vide ex­cel­lent head and shoul­der room for two adults, but legroom suf­fers. I took two old friends to lunch and it was nec­es­sary to ma­noeu­vre the front seats to cre­ate a com­fort­able po­si­tion for the rear pas­sen­gers. For­tu­nately, the front seats can be moved a long way back and for­wards. The boot is quite siz­able for this class of car with around 25 litres with the rear seats up and around 950 litres with the rear seats down in a 60-40 split. The more ex­pen­sive mod­els also have a heigh­tad­justable floor, which al­lows the storage of frag­ile items be­neath a solid panel.

Safety and Se­cu­rity

The cross up! has a Euro NCap five-star rat­ing , as well as sta­bil­ity control and four front, rear and tho­rax air bags. There is the usual ABS with EBD, IsoFix child-seat mounts and a re­mote lock­ing device and alarm. The car also has a high-mounted rear brake lamp and day­time run­ning lights.

Per­for­mance and Han­dling

Some small en­gines are in­clined to buzz a lit­tle, but the three-cylin­der, se­quen­tial in­jected, one litre cross up! en­gine is smooth and fairly quiet. The so­phis­ti­cated mo­tor pro­duces 55 kW/95 Nm and this power is ex­pressed on road by a man­ual, five-speed gear­box with a light ac­tion and when driven with en­thu­si­asm, the mo­tor pro­duces a vi­brant thrum, which can­not be said of the bat­tery brigade. The front-wheel drive gives the car a D-Road fo­cus and driven on fairly poor Mid­lands D Roads, it per­formed re­mark­ably well. On the N3, it has the po­ten­tial to eat the kilo­me­tres, but you will have to use the gears when pass­ing long loads Top speed is around 170 km/h and 0-100 km/h takes around 14 sec­onds. Fuel con­sump­tion is in the 5,6 litres per 100 km range.

The cross up! is firstly a city car and no off roader. It ex­cels in the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment. With com­pact di­men­sions, a tight turn­ing cir­cle and ex­cel­lent ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, it will do the shop­ping, col­lect the kids, dodge the taxis and give you a fun ride while do­ing th­ese chores, be­cause of its agility. The steer­ing is light but re­as­sur­ing and pleas­ingly di­rect. The car is also com­posed, re­spon­sive, and ef­fort­less to drive and park. As a VW the cross up! is also likely to re­tain its value.

Costs and the Com­pe­ti­tion

The cross up! we drove comes in at around R185 000, but don’t for­get the ex­tras. The car comes with a three-year/120 000 km fac­tory guar­an­tee and 12-year anti-cor­ro­sion war­ranty. A main­te­nance plan is op­tional. The cross up! is fairly unique but also look at a se­lec­tion of A-seg­ment cars.


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