Fun to drive, willing to work
BRIAN BASSETT gets dusty in the new Volkswagen cross up! 1-litre
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.