Its not hard to find out if a mini car has a big future. You open the door, climb into the drivers seat and, best case scenario, nothings missing. All the things youd find in a small or compact car are right there. Not only that: space isnt tight.
Its like the first time you ride in a Smart -- you cant believe that the space for two passengers in such a miniscule vehicle is so generous. But of course with the Smart, the car ends practically right behind the front seats. Now along comes VW, revisiting its core Volks-Wagen (peoples car) concept, with the up!: 3.54-meter (11.61-foot) long, and space for four people who are not supposed to merely be able to squeeze in, but travel comfortably.
I got to test drive the car thats due on the market before the end of the year at prices starting from less than 10,000 euros. My first thought as I turned on the ignition, put the car in gear, pressed down on the gas pedal and pulled out onto open road was: how do these folks ever hope to sell another Polo, or for that matter Golf? Thats how smooth this little beauty is: holding the road solidly (sitting behind the wheel, you dont for a second feel how small the car is), and passing is no-sweat thanks to a three-cylinder engine that accelerates well.
The car is gasoline powered, but a natural gas version is planned.
Up! engineers freed a lot of space by fitting the front-engine in horizontally. Seating front and back is very comfortable and theres even some storage, including collapsible drinks holders and a trunk thats much roomier than youd expect.
Lower-case u aside, nothing about the up! is minimalist or cheesy. Many aspects of the inside resemble a Mini, but VW kept the design-y bits to a minimum -- so, while everything is attractive to look at, functionality wins out.
An unusual feature is the portable navigation system "maps + more." Although mobile, it links to many of the cars functions such as the (optional) parking pilot.
What didnt I like? No blind-spot mirrors. Asked if any were planned, even VW head of development Ullrich Hackenberg said he didnt know.
VW will be launching the car with three trim levels -- take up!, move up! and high up! Air conditioning is not included, but even with all the extras included, the up! is not expected to top 15,000 euros.
Target market? Young drivers, for a first car experience with the VW brand that could cement loyalty; and the silver generation, which is to say middle-aged and older folks who, for city driving, will prefer to leave the Mercedes SL in the garage and scoot around town in their up!
Thats an entirely plausible scenario for anyone whos driven the car, but more certain is that -- thanks to the up! -- the perception of the VW brand is about to change. It wont all be about Touaregs, Golfs and Tiguans anymore; itll be about a widely affordable automobile that does not for one moment give the impression of being a cheap car.
Read the original article in German
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