Volkswagen has created an all-new 999cc three-cylinder engine for he Up!, which it offers in a 60 or 75 hp version, with out test car using the latter. On paper, the three cylinders work just fine, but what if we replace that with tarmac?
From the moment you turn the key and up to a certain point that separates the take off from cruising, you will be aware of the fact that there are three pots under the hood.
This is one of the best three-pots we've ever driven, but the specific idle vibration just can't be overcome soon enough for you to not be aware of it. From the aforementioned point on, the engine finds its balance, but the (again) specific three-cylinder noise never goes away.
As for the muscle, the engine needs to be revved in order to do its job properly. Think of it as your mobility apprentice: it struggles a bit at first, but one you start to get up to speed, it gets the idea and does things properly.
It's assistant, the five-speed manual gearbox, is precise and feels solid, strangely reminding us of a sunny day when we drove the first-generation Skoda Fabia for the first time.
We can't say that the unit is rev-happy, but it will turn pedal travel into forward momentum once you climb high in the rev range. We also took the car for a highway run and discovered that it can sustain faster trips than we would've expected it too.
At speed, the car feels safe, despite the body roll, which is present due to the suspension setup. This is softer than what VW has accustomed us with, but not as as soft as in a Renault Twingo
, for example. The brakes fall into the same category: they don't impress, but you can trust them even when you're traveling at the car's top speed of 171 km/h (106 mph).
The suspension really comes into its own when you encounter potholes or road imperfections, as it manages to make you think you're in a much bigger car, filtering out these in a pretty effective manner. Coupe this with the good soundproofing and the comfortable seats and you're going to be in for one of the most comfortable experiences in the class.
Flick the steering wheel and pull the pleasure lever between the seats, it's time to get back in town, this is a city car, remember?
The Up! was built to serve an urban transportation purpose and it does this in a brilliant way. The part of it that impresses the most is its efficiency, with the little VW asking for around 7 liters to cover 100 km of crowded city roads during our test drive.
The engine-gearbox couple manage to offer a decent experience, but you have to abuse the throttle a little even if you're a mother taking your child to school. The steering, even though quieter than a secret agent, makes the car agile around town and the rather high ground clearance means that you don't have to be stressed when you meet a pothole or you want to park and you see a curb.
The extra refinement point (for its class) mean that you get less stress from the daily commute and they toys, such as the heated seats and the detachable satnav allow you to do away with basic needs and focus on the important stuff. However, you can become bored at times while driving the Up!, and we're not talking about sitting in traffic jams.Continue reading