The only way is up!

Wales On Sunday - - MOTORS - ROBIN ROBERTS news­desk@waleson­

T HE peo­ple’s car is cer­tainly all things to all men and women look­ing for a city car and con­sid­er­ing the Volk­swa­gen up!

Launched in the UK in 2012 it un­der­went a com­pre­hen­sive re­vamp in 2016 and there is the prom­ise of still more to come in 2018.

Es­sen­tially, the up! range com­prises 18 mod­els from about £9,200 to £13,000 for the 60, 75 or 90ps petrol pow­ered line up with an 82ps £25,300 elec­tric at the top of the range and three or five door bodystyles, with an ap­prox­i­mate £400 pre­mium for the ex­tra doors.

There are four trim lev­els, mostly with five-speed man­ual gear­boxes but you can or­der a five-speed se­quen­tial au­to­matic if pre­ferred with the two lower pow­ered en­gines, but oddly not the most pow­er­ful.

A 115ps 1.0 up! GTI will ap­pear in spring 2018 and could be­come the must-have hot hatch of the next decade.

For this re­view we picked the cur­rently most pow­er­ful ver­sion in its beats trim, with the em­pha­sis on entertainment. And it has a very, very good sound sys­tem for such a small car, with special in­te­rior de­tail­ing, up­hol­stery and leather trimmed steer­ing wheel as well as am­bi­ent light­ing and start/ stop fuel sav­ing.

It cer­tainly lifts the look of the up!

The well proven pow­er­train is ex­cep­tion­ally smooth for a triple-pot power unit, with good pulling power so long as you se­lect the best ra­tios.

It’s not quick off the mark but picks up well and with plan­ning it over­takes safely and can keep up with mo­tor­way traf­fic while re­turn­ing good econ­omy into the 60s.

Clutch and gearchange are light and pos­i­tive but on oc­ca­sions I wished I had a sixth gear to re­duce the en­gine noise at high speed.

Steer­ing is sharp and the turn­ing cir­cle good for ur­ban use with­out be­ing twitchy at speed on coun­try roads and its as­sis­tance makes light work of heavy traf­fic. The brakes, too, are pro­gres­sive and pow­er­ful.

I liked the po­si­tion and feel of the stalks for lights and wipers, the sim­ple fa­cia switches for sec­ondary con­trols and the straight­for­ward in­stru­ments’ pod with the cen­tre-dash ad­justable holder for a mo­bile phone. It’s all well thought out.

Heat­ing and ven­ti­la­tion was ba­sic but good nev­er­the­less pro­vid­ing a lot of out­put, wide di­rec­tional con­trol and tem­per­a­ture se­lec­tion.

The amount of odd­ments room was rea­son­able but not ex­cep­tional and the com­part­ments were on the small or slim side for my lik­ing.

The three-door body shape is not the eas­i­est if you have to climb into the back, the five door is much more user­friendly but at £11,695 is some £400 more, and while head­room was good the rear, legroom was tight and this driver found the front legroom was barely ad­e­quate for a six­footer.

The front doors opened wide and the seats were well shaped and sup­port­ing but their ad­just­ment range was not gen­er­ous and ide­ally suited to some­one un­der 5ft 10in.

The back seats were flat­ter and shorter sup­port­ing a taller per­son so re­ally are for oc­ca­sional use only.

In the boot there is a high sill but a sen­si­ble shape for plac­ing items and the seat­backs fold down in­di­vid­u­ally to grad­u­ally in­crease to­tal ca­pac­ity.

Vis­i­bil­ity is very good and you can see all cor­ners, with a low waist­line and big glass area all around, good wipers and rea­son­ably bright head­lights.

The lit­tle up! can be en­cour­aged along very eas­ily and its agility and road-hold­ing are good.

For a small car it re­ally soaks up bumps and ridges with­out too much com­plaint and only the very worst seemed to get through and shake up the driver and oc­cu­pants.

A slightly soft ride did mean it rolled around tighter cor­ners at speed but it was a de­light to drive over most roads.

Even when pressed to per­form the up! did show re­mark­able fru­gal­ity with fuel and I was not far off the claimed com­bined fig­ure.

What it lacked in speed it com­pen­sated with com­po­sure and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, it wasn’t ex­citable but en­joy­able.

The up! range com­prises 18 mod­els from about £9,200 to £13,000 with an 82ps £25,300 elec­tric at the top of the range

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