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VW e-Up (2017) review

Published:23 October 2017

VW e-Up (2017) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By Lawrence Cheung

Parkers content manager and the brains behind our content management system

By Lawrence Cheung

Parkers content manager and the brains behind our content management system

► Facelifted electric up tested
► Smeg fridge on wheels
► Yours for £21k (inc. grant)

Volkswagen’s charming Up had a mid-life nip and tuck in 2016, with a lightly-revised interior and tweaked face.

We already like the addition of the 89bhp 1.0-litre TSI to the range, and now we've hopped back into the five-door-only e-up to see what's changed.

You can read CAR's original 2013 VW e-Up review here

Considering the next most expensive model - the more powerful 89bhp 1.0-litre High Up - is under £13k, this all-electric e-Up is like the motoring equivalent of having a Smeg fridge (especially in this particular gloss white paint finish).

There’s the premium £20,780 pricetag (including £4500 government grant), cool boxy looks and compromised practicality over its larger, cheaper rivals. It sounds like a fridge too, thanks to that sound generator whirring away. All it needs now is some chrome door handles and some milk in the cupholder...

That’s enough fridge references!

Moving on. As well as experiencing the near-silent treatment as one zips by you, you can tell this is the e-Up by its signature C-shaped daytime-running lights and blue strip across the bonnet line.

Charging time, as before, requires nine hours from a regular three-pin plug, or six hours from the optional 3.6kW wallbox fitted to your home. Find a fast-charging DC supply and it’ll take just 30 minutes for an 80% charge.

VW e-Up interior

Power from the 18.7kWh electric powertrain remains the same, producing 80bhp and 155lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph time of 12.4 seconds might look pedestrian but the claimed 0-37mph of 4.9 seconds is more telling - and relevant for owners who reside in cities and towns.

How does all of that translate on the road?

The best bit is the joyous, slightly addictive immediacy off the line, making this ideal for darting around stop-start traffic. Think more towards the BMW i3 for urgency than the more docile, cheaper Renault Zoe. This also answers to those who find the rest of the range a little lacking in power.

Combine the whizzy electric powertrain with the small footprint and weighty steering and the result is a package with an air of agility and fun about it. The last time we smiled this much in a small EV was in a Smart ForTwo, except this time we didn’t feel quite as sick afterwards.

VW e-Up plugged in

You can also adjust the level of regenerative braking too, meaning you can effectively drive with just the accelerator pedal for most of the time.

It’s not perfect though. The cabin is slightly creaky, there are bigger rivals available offering a greater range per charge and the 99 mile range on offer drops to 50-75 miles in colder winter temperatures.

Factor in the price and it’s quite a long way to go if you have a phobia of petrol stations and changing gears yourself.

Verdict

You’d have to cover a huge number of miles for this likeable EV to make financial sense - especially if you plan to do it all within the battery’s eight-year/99,360 mile warranty. 

And since this is primarily targeted for town dwellers, this might only make sense for a very specific crowd - perhaps for eco-minded delivery drivers.

We definitely like the e-Up, but we can’t seem to escape the elephant in the room (or cabin): a price figure that seems bigger than the car itself.

Check out our VW reviews here

Specs

Price when new: £20,780
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: Synchronous electric motor, 80bhp, 155lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.4sec 0-62mph, 81mph, 99-mile range, 0g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1,214kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 3540/1,910/1489mm

Rivals

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  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review
  • VW e-Up (2017) review

By Lawrence Cheung

Parkers content manager and the brains behind our content management system

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