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Volkswagen Space Up unveiled

Published: 25 October 2007

Mmm, this looks ever so slightly similar to the Up! Concept at Frankfurt…

And you wouldn’t be wrong. VW chose the Tokyo show to tug the sheets off its new vehicle just six weeks after showing the world the Up! Concept– a two-door cheeky urban device – to the sweaty media at Frankfurt. When the Up! range is finally built at the end of the decade, the Space Up! could be a perfect Japanese K-car congestion buster, which would help VW remain the top imported brand in Japan.

So what’s the big difference between Up! and the Space Up!?

Exactly what it says on the tin. Space. It is a four-door longer wheelbase version of the Up! – 230mm longer, 40mm higher and with a huge wheelbase of 2560mm. VW says it’s 150mm shorter than its comparatively dull Fox, making it easily their most compact car.

Four doors you say?

Indeed. The rear of which open suicidally to reveal a total absence of centre roof pillars. Access to the innards is fantastic and it truly shows how roomy and clever a small car can be. At the rear is not a hatch but a pair of Mini Clubman-style van doors which are asymmetrical. Above the back bumper is all glass-house, with rear light clusters cleverly hidden.

Rear engined? Rear drive? Simple and Cheap? A revived Beetle, surely?

Well, it will be the 70th birthday of the Bug next year. The Beetle is what VW has chosen to liken the Space Up! to, although knowledgeable CAR fans out there will probably recall the VW Type 3 – a more conventional-looking car which still had the genius separate flat floorpan and rear-drive air-cooled engine. There is no doubt this is a shrunken Type 3 Variant for the new millennium.

Two boots doesn’t sound bad at all

It’s brilliant and this format of packaging should have never ceased in the first place. As VW cheesily displayed at Tokyo, the point of the four-seater Space Up! is to cater for men sporting tight grey V-necks with attractive wives who have daughters with a teddy collection so substantial it requires the use of both front boot and rear boot space. Bar the driver’s seat, all chairs can be removed or folded, the latter of which provides a load capacity of 1005 litres. Heck, there’s even a door in the passenger footwell to enable long objects to be loaded through the front boot.

Let’s talk power plants

Well, a quick peek beneath the Space Up!’s rear cargo bed revealed a proper FSI four-pot engine in the Tokyo show car. Determined to keep us guessing (and its options open), VW says the Space Up! could be powered by petrol, diesel or electricity. Or a combination. Expect a three-cylinder, too. Dream on about an air-cooled boxer…