TEST DRIVE – Motoring man Les Oliver tries out the new VW up! on Sunderland’s roads

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HOPING to get “one up” on its rivals, Volkswagen’s new three-door small city car, the up! is already a hit with Sunderland drivers. LES OLIVER put one through its paces on Wearside’s road.

WITH no capital letter, an exclamation mark and lots of marketing puns, the VW up! is a great little car that will make its rivals sit up).

Attracting the attention of Sunderland’s motorists since the day it went on show, it is up there with the best, having just been voted “World Carn of the Year” by a jury of international judges who gave it the thumbs-up (right, that’s it, shut up with the puns, Ed).

Built at the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava, Slovakia, it has been introduced with perfect timing as the small city car sector is growing faster than any other.

A five-door version will join the range in the second half of the year, with an electric version due in 2013.

The three-door has just gone on sale at prices under £9,000. At just 3,540mm long, 1,641mm wide and 1,489mm high, the up! is one of the smallest four-seater cars available.

Its short body overhangs and one of the longest wheelbases in the segment give it a tight turning circle of just 9.8 metres,- ideal for city use and manoeuvring into small parking spaces.

An exceptional use of interior space combined with an engine that is mounted well forward gives room for four adults.

The boot, though still small, is above the class average at 251 litres and there’s a variable height load floor. When the rear seat is fully folded, cargo space increases to 951 litres.

The car is powered by a one-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, with a choice of 60 or 75bhp.

Combined fuel consumption of the lower powered model I drove was 62.8mpg so expect about 50 in normal everyday use.

A BlueMotion Technology model is an expected to give a combined 68.9 mpg with 96 g/km CO2.

Driving the cheapest and lowest power version with four adults on board there were no complaints about comfort in the back seat.

The little car acquitted itself quite well in town and on dual carriageway A-roads. It was only on hills that it seemed to struggle a bit with a full load on board.

Three versions are available: Take up!, Move up! and High up!.

All have ABS and four airbags, and all except Take up! also have standard ESP.

Optionally available for the first time on a small car is “City Emergency Braking” which at speeds of under 19mph detects the risk of an impending shunt and automatically slams on the brakes.

Apparently, almost half of all accidents in town driving are due to lack of concentration at slow speeds resulting in a bump with the car in front.

Accelerates to 62mph takes14.4 seconds and top speed is 99mph.

The up! is cheap to run. With a light right foot you should get good economy and as CO2 emissions are 105g/km it is in Band B for road tax of £20 a year. Insurance premiums should also be low as it is in the lowest band – 1E.

It comes with manual air conditioning, electric windows and remote central locking. Features include MP3 compatible sound system with an Aux-in socket to play other devices.

TECH SPEC

Volkswagen up!

Engine: 1-litre petrol

Power: 60bhp

0-60: 14.4 secs

Top speed: 99mph

Economy: 62.8mpg

CO2: 105g/km

Price: £8,970