► New turbocharged VW Up tested
► Less economical but far quicker
► Set to cost upwards of £12,000
According to Volkswagen it’s this model, the revised Up with a new turbocharged 1.0-litre engine – not the current Golf, or even Polo – that channels the spirit of the original Golf GTI.
Despite having a much smaller engine under the bonnet than the first Golf GTI – it displaces just 999cc and packs only three cylinders – the addition of a turbocharger has given Volkswagen’s smallest model newfound muscle.
Power Up: how much difference does the turbo make?
The updated Up might pack a not-so-impressive 89bhp in newly turbocharged form, but its flyweight frame means a 3.6 second tumble in the 0-62mph benchmark, down to 9.9sec, compared with the previous 74bhp version.
More impressive, however, is the jump in in-gear acceleration. Flatten the throttle in fourth and the turbo’d Up completes the 50-75mph sprint in just 10sec, a substantial eight seconds quicker than the naturally aspirated model.
It feels pretty nippy, too, though you have to keep it on the boil – which might come as a surprise to those expecting effortless shove. Let the revs drop too low and pulling power fades away rapidly, while the inherently unbalanced nature of the three-cylinder motor makes itself felt. If anything, the 75bhp non-turbo car feels more willing, trading in-gear go for smoothness and a more free-revving feel.
The revised Up offers a smooth but slightly firm-edged ride, but it remains comfortable enough when you just want to cruise along. It also feels surefooted and agile in the bends, so it isn't entirely out of place on more open roads.
Dress up: new interior and exterior personalisation options
In order to help the previously straight-laced Up to compete with style-focused rivals, including the Fiat 500 and Toyota Aygo, Volkswagen has added a host of personalisation options.
Buyers can tailor the colour of the roof, mirror casings and wheels, pick from a host of decal packs and dash trims, and choose from seven new exterior finishes. There’s even the option of a 300w six-speaker audio system by Beats.
Prices for the revised up start at £8995, while the 1.0 TSI 90 Move Up – as tested here – is likely to weigh in at around £12,000. Volkswagen is expecting the 59hp non-turbo Move Up model to be the bestseller, with the turbocharged model forecast to sell in smaller numbers.
Volkswagen has given the Up a much-needed extra helping of style, making it more desirable alongside rivals like the Fiat 500 – which has offered myriad personalisation options for years. It otherwise remains a solid, sensible and practical machine, and the new turbocharged motor makes it much more punchy than its 59hp and 74hp stablemates.
However, in a class focusing predominantly on price, it’s those less powerful models that still make the most sense. The 74bhp model is cheaper and still satisfying to drive, while retaining all the practicality and solidity that makes the Up such a tempting city car buy.
If value is more important to you than badge, though, it’s hard to ignore the draw of the very closely related – and more affordable – Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo.
By Chris Lloyd
Read more Volkswagen reviews