It was only a generation ago when young drivers would spent just as long underneath their first car as they did actually driving the thing. No self respecting home garage would be without ramps and a big red tub of swarfega on the window sill. These days the only time most new drivers lift the bonnet up is to put more screenwash in.
That’s due mainly to better reliability, oh and maybe SKY and the internet have had a part to play too.
If anyone still has an inclination to revive the pastime, the VW UP! (don’t forget the exclamation mark) would be an excellent motor to tinker with.
First exhibited as a concept at the Frankfurt motorshow in 2007, VW’s ‘City Car’ returned again four years as a fully fledged member of the family. It had come a long way, but its key concepts remained. Small, no-nonsense, modern, reliable and safe. The word ‘fun’ was probably on the ideas board somewhere too. It comes in 2 variations, a 1.0 L three-cylinder gasoline 60 hp (45 kW) and a (souped up) 75 hp (56 kW) both perfect to take apart and put back together again.
It’s a more focused attempt than the VW Fox, fresh, modern, unpretentious and it’s cheap too. Using the same platform as the Skoda Citigo or Seat’s Mii, with pretty much an identical skeleton. Of the three, the Up! is slightly more refined in terms of finish, but there’s not much in it.
None of them feel like ‘budget’ cars. Admitably the lowest spec ‘Take Up!’ is pretty basic with no central locking or electric windows, but it still does have a CD player and build quality is still high. You might have to nag your passengers to lock their doors, but you’ll still have change from £8,100 and its low emissions and high MPG make it even more attractive.
You don’t have to go for broke tough ,the ‘High Up’ version I tested had all the extras including a really nice modern personal sat nav information / media console which will keep track of your MPG and a myriad of other information, not to mention, 15″ ‘Spoke’ alloy wheels, Air Conditioning, Manual, Front fog lights and a Split-grain Leather height adjustable steering wheel.
Like the Mii and Citigo, it has clean un-fussy lines. It’s fresh and curves soften its profile just enough to avoid any brick comparisons. Available in 3 door and 5 door, the boot is big enough for one big and one small case, but not much else. So you can go away in it, just not too far.
On the road the UP!’s steering is weighted nicely, the pedals are sturdy (often a problem on smaller ‘budget-ey’ cars) and an intuitive gearbox means it is a genuinely enjoyable car to drive. It handles really well, but as you would expect the UP! is more suited for city driving, being precocious enough to foil even the most impatient of drivers.
Take the car out of its comfort zone and once you’ve got a good head of steam going it’ll sit quite happily on the Motorway. Wind noise may add to fatigue on longer journeys, but it doesn’t labour along, and the ride is surprisingly smooth.
Potentially good residuals, and in the case of the Greenline über low emmisions, no tax, no congestion charge and the lowest possible insurance group combined with VW’s reputation for quality and reliability and some decent finance deals, it’s well worth a look.
High up! 1.0 75PS 5 Spd 3dr Petrol Manual
Fuel consumption: mpg/ltr per 100km
(combined) 60.1 / 4.7
(extra-urban) 70.6 / 4
(urban) 47.9 / 5.9
Emissions: : 108g/km c02
Top Speed: 106mph
For more info visit www.volkswagen.co.uk