The up! is the smallest Volkswagen on the market. Still the sheer tininess of it was a surprise to me. I had it for three days and wasn’t sure what use if any it would be to me as my everyday car.

However, after getting behind the wheel, I very quickly found I really enjoyed its simplicity and size. The model I drove was the one-litre petrol, putting out a usable 60bhp. It had been spruced up with some nice touches, as it was the Beats Audio special edition.

Beats Audio is the speaker and headphone manufacturer founded by US rapper and record producer Dr Dre and styling tips from the brand’s products can be seen all over the little VW.

Firstly, as you would expect, the sound system has been upgraded and is quite impressively loud and meaty.

The cosmetic touches really make this special up! stand out. The upholstery is stitched in a funky way, with Beats branding hidden in the detail. Less subtle branding is placed on the dashboard and on the scuff plates. You can’t miss that this is a special edition. All these pieces are white and give the interior a really bright, quirky feel.

On the exterior there are also some nice touches, with accented red mirrors linking up with 15in radial wheel with oversized red VW logos in the middle. These touches, along with the contrasting non-metallic white paint, give an interesting looking little car.

Once out on the road, the up! travels in a really surprising unflustered manner. The little engine is gutsy but not overly inspiring in the twisty stuff. The lack of power is nearly made up for by the quite brilliant handling which comes from the fact that the wheels are positioned on each of the four corners.

Hustling the baby Volkswagen down a little lane was a very enjoyable experience. The steering is direct and well weighted. This, combined with a five-speed manual box, make driving it an involving experience.

When you get out on the motorway it gets up to speed slowly but, once there, it cruises comfortably at the national limit with no major noise or fuss. It is by no means a motorway cruiser, but short hops are not a major chore.

On the technology front, the up! has very little on board – no satellite navigation and no cruise control, but thankfully it does have air conditioning.

Volkswagen has been very smart with its design. It has positioned a handy smartphone holder on the dash above the radio. Once in position, an app can be downloaded specifically for the up! which will allow your phone to function as a satellite navigation system, phone, bluetooth media player and give you access to more of the car’s dial and gauges that are not on the very simple behind-wheel display.

The phone also doubles as a driving data display which gives you the standard fuel economy stats on the move. While on fuel economy, the little engine was very frugal, giving close to 60 miles to the gallon over every sort of driving. I suspect 70 plus would be possible if not driving in test mode.


Once I had gotten over the shock of just how small the up! is and got my 6ft-plus frame into the driver’s seat, I found it to be a great little companion.

It goes about its business in a fun but effective way. It was a lovely distraction from today’s overly techy cars with its simplicity.

It is just a steering wheel, three pedals and manual gearbox wrapped up in a very bright and interesting body which makes it one of the most fun and simple cars I’ve driven in a long time.

Obviously it will have a limited market for the countryside motorist but for its target market, the younger urban dweller, it is a superbly simple and enjoyable runaround.

Fuel: petrol.

Engine size: 999cc

Road tax: €190.

0-100kmh: 14.4 seconds.

Price as tested: €15,630.

Read more

Under the Hood: From Crops and Cultivation to Canada and Crystal