CAR buying trends might be leaning towards bigger, bulkier SUVs but Volkswagen still believes in an alternative to big-bummed gas burners.
This week, I have been buzzing around in VW’s latest turbocharged Up! – and it has been something of a revelation.
It has been something of a revelation
No more failed parallel parking attempts, no more multi-storey nightmares . . . and no eye-watering fuel bills.
Of course, some families need the space afforded by a seven-seat soft-roader. But for those who don’t, the Up! is loaded with charm and character.
At just 3.6 metres, it is less than a metre longer than the current Smart Car. Yet it happily houses two adults in the rear thanks to some clever packaging.
Key facts: VW HIGH UP!
Engine: 1-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Economy: 60.1 mpg (combined)
0-62mph: 9.9 secs
Top speed: 114 mph
Length: 3.6 metres
Turning circle: 9.8 metres
CO2: 108 g/km
The miniscule 1-litre turbocharged petrol engine now develops 89bhp, loading it with more zip at lights and in town traffic.
That turbocharging also means you can get up to the higher gears quicker, reducing noise and fuel consumption. The Up! will cruise in fourth or fifth with no complaints.
A brilliantly capable little machine for under £12k
Granted, motorway journeys are a little on the noisy side, thanks to the five-speed gearbox, and anything too fast feels a bit hairy.
But it will happily cruise at the legal limit and returns an impressive 60.1mpg if you are not too heavy-footed.
All 89bhp models come in VW’s High trim, which make things a bit more expensive but buys comforts such as heated front seats, electrically adjustable wing mirrors and a neat DAB radio with colour screen.
Volkswagen has nailed the ride and handling
If you feel flush, you can go crazy and add bigger alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and funky interior flourishes. But it’s not necessary. This refreshed model already sports funky LED rear lights, sharper bumpers and stylish chrome additions to the interior.
Stick with the standard colours and trims and you get a brilliantly capable little machine for less than £12,000.
The Seat Mii, Citroen C1 and Hyundai i10 are cheaper, I admit, but are simply not as good.
Volkswagen has nailed the ride and handling on its tiny Up! and this new engine complements the pint-sized package perfectly.
If only they made a GTI version, I might consider giving up SUVs for good.