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Car of the Year 2012

The Car of the Year 2012 is the Volkswagen Up.

It was one of the hardest-fought contests in recent memory, but the VW’s new city car is a clear winner.

Volkswagen Polo Hatchback

You have the choice of two 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, one with 59bhp and the other with 74bhp. Neither is very fast and both need revs to get going. The lower-powered of the two is sluggish on the open road, too, but the more eager 74bhp engine copes impressively well at motorway speeds.

The Up’s main virtue is its supple ride, which mops up most road imperfections. It’s fun, too. It’s a small car that feels like one: agile, accurate and effortless to pilot. The dimensions help, of course, but the light, direct steering and snappy manual gear change also play their part.

Three-cylinder engines are normally buzzy devices. Not in the VW. Of course, it isn’t quite as smooth as a four-cylinder, and you notice small vibrations at low revs, but it’s silky enough everywhere else. Mind you, a mite too much wind and road noise creep into the cabin at higher speeds. Avoid the ASG gearbox, which is jerky and slow to respond.

The Up isn’t the cheapest car in its class, or the best equipped. However, the car has massively strong residual values, which make it an very sound long-term investment. Economy is good, too, particularly on the 59bhp unit, which delivers a tidy, if not class-leading, 62.8mpg. The BlueMotion Tech version gets closer to 70mpg.

No other city car – not even the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo with which it shares its mechanicals – can get anywhere near the Up for classiness. The dashboard has glossy panels and chrome-rimmed switchgear, and the plastics are of a uniformly high standard throughout. It’s posh enough to shame most cars from the class above.

All Ups have twin front airbags, plus side ‘bags that extend upwards to cover the same area as curtain airbags. However, the most basic model misses out on standard stability control. Nevertheless, the car achieved the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, and city emergency braking is available as a very reasonably priced option.

The Up’s dash isn’t complicated, and that’s a good thing. All major controls are well sited, and have VW’s usual chunky, no-nonsense design. The dials are clear, too, and if you go for the top-spec model, there’s a terrific (and removable) sat-nav infotainment system on top of the dash. Comfort is good, too. Seats are flat and firm, and there’s a good driving position, even though the wheel doesn’t adjust telescopically.

There’s a great feeling of space up front, thanks to the uncluttered cabin and generous shoulder space. The Up is also one of the roomiest city cars in the back, with enough head- and legroom to comfortably seat a brace of adults. The boot is one of the biggest in class, and with the rear bench flipped forward, there’s more cargo space than in some superminis.

There are three trim levels, and all of them are decently equipped or have the ability to be augmented with sensibly priced options. The top car – the High Up – comes with an excellent (and removable) sat-nav infotainment system, as well as heated front seats.

Prices start from as little as £10,390.

Source (incl. photo):

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Steve is one of the chief writers for Service 4 Service which allows him to show off his passion for cars and everything in the motoring world. He loves driving his Mercedes CLK and is a bit of a fanatic with in-car gadgets!

1 Comment

  1. Having read your report and several others we decided to trade in our Ford C-Max and purchase a city car. This was quite a big step as we have two children aged 3 and 1 so as well as their car seats we also have to carry a lot of child equipment around with us. We ended up with the Skoda Citigo rather than the Volkswagen Up so its not quite as classy, as you so beautifully put it, but the mechanics are the same and its brilliant. It feels spacious, its comfortable and drives well and best of all the fuel bill does not leave your eyes watering. The only disadvantage we have found so far is its a bit sluggish on hills but we live in a flat part of the country so its not an every day problem. Based on our experiences of the Citigo I can completely understand why the Up was the winner.

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