Owner Review

2012 Volkswagen Up! Review

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I bought this up! around 12 months ago. I wanted the least expensive transport my ego could afford. The Fiat 500 Pop hadn't yet fallen to $14k driveaway, and I was underwhelmed by both the Micra and the Mirage. They both seemed like appliances you'd buy from a large discount department store.

The up! won me over on first impressions. For such a cheap car, it seemed unusually solid. The doors close with a reassuring 'thud', and whilst the interior is sparse, it feels as though quality materials went into its production. However, the factor that closed the deal was the up!'s "Maps + More" GPS. Not only does it do sat nav, but it also provides multimedia capabilities, Bluetooth connectivity and a detailed trip computer for just $500 - it makes other factory sat nav units look hideously overpriced in comparison.

Just over 30,000km later and - perhaps surprisingly - nothing has failed on it yet. Then again, it's a relatively simple naturally aspirated engine coupled to a manual gearbox. Even VW can get this sort of mechanical layout right. That said, I'm not keen to push my luck, so I'll probably dispose of it before the warranty expires.

It should be noted that most of those kilometres have been on the highway. The up! is surprisingly refined for such a small car, and other than the slight diesel-like engine note at idle, it doesn't come across as harsh as most 3-pots do under acceleration. Another surprise is the up!'s air conditioning; despite making do with three vents (with the centre air vent being fixed), it performs remarkably well in hot weather.

Fuel economy is superb (real life fuel consumption is just on 5 litres per 100km), but then it would want to be. Overtaking needs to be booked several weeks in advance. It's nothing that an extra cylinder or a turbo wouldn't fix ...

It's shame the up! didn't have a little more oomph, as the chassis could probably cope with an extra 20kW without raising a sweat. It's a sweet little thing to drive; handling and steering are both much better than a car of this calibre arguably deserves, but it's all the better for it. The ride is as good as it can be given a short wheel base and a wheel in each corner.

My only real gripes are with the driver's seat (uncomfortable), equipment levels (ludicrously skimpy) and the name (daft). However, the little up! is good enough for me to ignore these issues. Even though it's in my garage for a good time and not a long time, I'm doing my best to ensure that a good time is had every time I hop in and turn the key.