Volkswagen Up concept

Published: 11 September 2007

Volkswagen Up!: the lowdown

Volkswagen today unveiled what it hoped will be the modern-day successor to the Beetle: the Up! concept, a small city car targeted at the young, the cash-poor, and the environmentally aware. Available with either a rear-mounted two- or three-cylinder engine, a production, rear-wheel drive Up! is expected to go on sale in global markets by 2009 with a target starting price of €6000 (around £4000), substantially undercutting competitors like the Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. It will even slot below VW’s current baby, the Fox, being 50mm shorter (the Up! is 3.45 metres long and 1.63 metres wide). Insiders say it will form the basis of other small VWs too, as well as sister products for Seat and Skoda.

CAR’s Georg Kacher said it’ll have a two-pot. Tell me more!

No details are yet available on the two-cylinder model, but the three-cylinder will employ the Polo BlueMotion’s 1.4-cylinder engine. Yet where the Polo weighs 1170kg, the Up! is likely to fall below 1000kg – impressive considering its airbags, ABS and crash protection structure – so expect 60mph to come up in under 12sec with a top speed in excess of 110mph compared with the Polo’s 12.8sec and 109mph. Furthermore, where the BlueMotion represents what VW’s engineers can do with an existing design, the Up! is a ground-up project with an environmental focus from the off. At best fuel will be consumed at a rate of 3.0 litres per 100km (94mpg), at worst 3.5 litres per 100km, much like the European-only Lupo of some years back.

What’s in the Up!?

Inside, minimalism rules as do digital displays – an 8in monitor shows the car’s vital signs and a 7in monitor provides access to navigation, telephone, stereo and more – that can be scrolled through via simple hand movements and touchscreen commands. The four seats all feature air pockets that automatically adapt to different body shapes, and three of the seats fold flat into the floor or can even be removed entirely for maximum load space. Naturally, with the rear-engined format (essential for engineering in adequate crash protection), there’s storage space in the nose, but there’s also some behind the rear seats too. The Up! should be the most recyclable Volkswagen ever built, VW recently teaming up with recyclable materials expert SiCon with the aim of making future cars 95 percent reusable. The Up! project has moved quickly under the guidance of Dr Martin Winterkorn – this being the first VW he will oversee from inception to completion – getting to its current stage in well under a year. Expect evolutions of the concept to appear at the LA and Tokyo motor shows before the production version is readied for 2009.

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator