Volkswagen e-Up! Review

Find out more about the Volkswagen e-Up! in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5
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  • Pros
  • Fast acceleration
  • Good to drive
  • Cheap to run
  • Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavy depreciation
  • Limited range
  • MPG
    0 - 0
  • CO2
    0 - 0 g/km
Model review

The Volkswagen Up! is the German manufacturer’s quirky city car that has proved a big hit since it first went on sale in 2012.

The Up! was built alongside both the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii at the VW Group’s plant in Bratislava, Slovakia.

It made sense for VW’s first fully-electric car to be a version of its smallest city car, which is why an electric version of the Up! – the appropriately named e-Up! went on sale at the end of 2013. Unlike the rest of the Up! range, the e-Up! is available only as a five-door, with seating for four people.

Latest Model

Despite the Up! receiving a light facelift along with the standard Up! in 2016, little of this has made its way onto the latest model.

It largely remains unchanged, other than a lightly re-designed rear bumper, front lights and some additional colours to choose from.

 

Value for money

The e-Up! is a pricey little car, and will be too expensive for most people to consider over the petrol version. Even with the government’s £4,500 electric car grant, you are looking at spending almost twice as much for the electric version than you would for a base petrol engine. It does come with plenty of kit for the money, though, including parking sensors, cruise control, satellite navigation and heated seats to name but a few.

Despite experts predicting the e-Up! would hold onto its value terribly, it has actually depreciated nowhere near as badly as predicted. We saw a 2014 example for sale with 6,000 miles for £12,995, which is still at least £5,000 more than you would be paying for a top-of-the-range petrol-engined Up!. Initial depreciation will hit hard, though, as one-year-old examples can be found with £5,000 shaved off the initial asking price – or nearly £10,000 if you include the electric car grant.

Because of the lack of examples that have been sold, though, it means there are few available on the used market, which does make it quite difficult to gauge values on.

 

Looks and image

The standard Up! is a funky looking city car anyway, and the slight adjustments made to the e-Up! only make it look better – notably the LED daytime running lights that shape around the grille. The interior is also pleasant, with a simple-to-use layout. However, it is barely altered over the standard version, which does make the high list price quite hard to swallow.

Some of the charm of the Up! has also been lost thanks to the increased weight from the batteries. A hefty 200kg has been added, which is a lot of extra weight on a car of this size. Somehow, though, the e-Up! remains fairly nimble in corners and  feels fast enough for you not to notice this most of the time. It’s also a lot more enjoyable to drive than the Renault Zoe is, for example.

The main difference that drivers of the petrol Up! will notice when switching to the electric version is the regenerative braking, which charges the car’s batteries when slowing down. While it does sound a little bit complex, it is easy to get used to.

The lack of background drone also means that e-Up! is nearly silent to drive, with the only sound you hear is the background wind and road noise. The engineers have done a good job of insulating the cabin from it, though. The regenerative braking also means that you don’t have to brake as often, which actually allows for a smoother driving experience.

Space and practicality

Unlike other electric cars, the e-Up! is just as practical as the petrol version, with the same interior and boot space.

Unfortunately, the Up! was also designed to be a small city car, which does mean that it’s not all that practical anyway. While it’s fine for city dwellers, it really is a bit small to use as a family car. The e-Up! is therefore best kept as a second car, or to buy if you rarely carry rear passengers.

The Up! is a strict four seater, too, and you’ll really struggle to get any tall adults in the back, and if you do, it certainly won’t be very comfortable. The boot offers 251 litres of capacity, which is actually quite impressive for such a compact car, and is considerably more than what rivals, such as the Citroen C1 (168 litres) offer.

Euro NCAP awarded the Up! a full five stars in its safety tests, and the e-Up! should be just as safe. The safety kit included as standard is impressive, too, and includes electronic stability control, autonomous emergency braking and Isofix child-seat mounts.

 

Power and range

The e-Up! is powered by a 60kW electric motor that produces 81bhp and 210NM of torque. It takes a lengthy 12.2 seconds to get up to 60mph, although the way the electric motor delivers its performance does make it seem a little bit quicker than these figures would suggest.

The e-Up! delivers a claimed 99-mile range, although under heavy acceleration you won’t get anywhere near this figure. Because of the smaller batteries fitted to the e-Up!, it does not take quite as long to charge as its rivals, although it doesn’t deliver a range as strong as other cars. It takes nine hours to charge using a domestic plug socket, but it can be charged in just 30 minutes using a rapid charger.

Running costs

The petrol Up! isn’t exactly an expensive car to run, but the e-Up! will be even cheaper. It is road tax exempt, which also means that you won’t have to pay the London Congestion Charge and other emissions-based road charges around the UK.

It also occupies the lowest company-car tax band, meaning it could halve your company car costs compared to a typical petrol-engined city car, it could halve the amount of business tax you pay each month.

While the range of the VW e-Up! isn’t all that impressive at 99 miles, it should easily be enough for city dwellers , providing you have regular access to an electric charger. The cost to charge up will also be much less than petrol or diesel, which should mean significant savings if this area, too.

The e-Up! is placed in insurance group 10, which is quite high compared to the 74bhp petrol version. The 89bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is ranked in group 10, which does mean that this version and the e-Up! are out of reach to first drivers, because of the comparatively high insurance group.

 

Things to look for

Volkswagen has a reasonably good reputation for reliability and owners have reported few faults with the Up! since it first went on sale in 2012. The e-Up! should be no different, and is covered by VW’s three-year warranty, too. The batteries are actually covered for eight years or 100,000 miles which is further peace of mind for e-Up! ownership.

 

Rivals

The closest rival is the Renault Zoe, which is bigger, cheaper and offers a greater range. It certainly doesn’t have the build quality to match the e-Up!, though. Other rivals include a nearly-new Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf and the BMW i3. If you are looking at the e-Up!, it’s also worth looking at a top-spec petrol-engined Up! to see if you’re ready to go fully electric just yet, particularly if you don’t have a driveway or space where you have access to an electric charger.

Trims Explained

The e-Up! is only available in one trim.

The e-Up!

As standard you get LED daytime running lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, city emergency braking and rear parking sensors. On the inside, it comes with electric windows, climate control, smartphone navigation interface that allows for satellite navigation, a DAB radio, heated front seats, and heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors.

This costs £25,640.

Summary

  1. Very expensive
  2. Well-made interior
  3. Quirky looks
  4. Limited range
  5. The Renault Zoe makes a better alternative
  6. Good to drive
  7. Limited practicality
  8. Low running costs
  9. Safe
  10. Ultimately, a petrol-engined Up! is still the better choice