The common notion that some people have about small cars is that it is going to come with cramped interiors, absence of trunk space, and an engine that would have minimal power. Fortunately, this is not a thought shared by the vast majority else we would be deprived of watching these small cars create a rage on our Indian roads. Volkswagen seems to have mastered the art of coming out with small cars with regularity and each of these cars have carved a niche in the segment. Its latest offering is the Volkswagen Up!, which is scheduled to arrive in the Indian markets in the near future.
The Design Concept:
Though the car is just 139.4-inch long, proportionately its wheelbase is significantly long at 95.3-inch. The wheels have been pushed to the extreme four corners. This has not only proved useful in improving the proportions of the vehicle but has also been able to create extra space for the passengers. The boot of the car has been given a capacity of 9 cubic feet. This jumps up to 34 cubic feet if the rear seats are folded. Most small cars have no practical usage of their rear seats as they cannot adequately accommodate the passengers. The Up! has practical usage of its rear seats mainly due to the reasonable headroom it provides. The legroom in the rear seats is also fine, provided the occupants of the front seats do not push the seats totally back.
There is indeed a lot of favoritism in this car aimed at the driver and the front passenger. The Volkswagen Up! offers significant space to stretch out in all directions and is also equipped with a clearly legible and large instrument cluster. The stereo and HVAC consoles are positioned significantly high up the central stack. Budget has been a factor that has been significantly considered while providing the inside plastic panels, which though inexpensive have been designed as well as assembled in an impressive manner, thereby not drawing attention to the less costly material used. The bare metal that has been provided on the doors also looks cool mainly because of its matching color with its dashboard.
The consumers have also been given the optional choice of installing a navigation system that Volkswagen has developed together with its supplier Navigon. You can even have this system detached from the car and used as a navigational tool in case you wish to traverse the city walking. The interface has been styled nicely but seems to lack in its intuitive nature as it can sometimes display wrong readings. If this system has to be indeed put into place in the Volkswagen Up!, it needs to be worked upon significantly else it would end up as a feature that the drivers would not prefer using.
The Power Equation:
An entirely new car has been given birth to for providing power to this car – the latest EA211 engine definitely has the capability in three and four cylinder versions in the future. For the Volkswagen Up!, this new engine has been made available in a 1.0L three cylinder variant. The base model of the car achieves maximum power of 60Hp@5,000rpm whereas the more powerful variant offers 75Hp@6200rpm. The base engine in itself is quite capable of handling driving across town – the only time that you will notice a difference between the two engines when you make both the vehicles go full throttle.
The Driving and Handling Aspect:
On a long drive, you might notice absence of the balance shaft, however the engine operates smoothly on its three cylinders letting out a high in pitch but pleasant sound. The car though is not flexible enough. Lunching the car seems to be a boring experience. Though the engine seems to be adequately responding to its 6000rpm top rev mark, it seems to be doing so without any degree of enthusiasm. The Volkswagen Up! takes up a long time for accumulating speed. The higher powered engine takes around 12.4 seconds to move from static position to the 60mph mark whereas the base model takes 13.6 seconds to achieve the same. The top speeds for the 75Hp and 60Hp models have been restricted at 107mph and 99mph respectively. However, the best part is that the vehicle does not consume a lot of fuel. The mileage can be further increased if the optional Stop/Start feature is installed in the car. The vehicle is a front wheel drive and its engine has been mated to a 5-speed manual transmission gearbox. However, this transmission is strangely found to lack precision that can be visible on vehicles from Honda. An automatic variant with a single clutch is being planned to be brought out post the launch of this vehicle. Whenever Volkswagen has come out with these single-clutch gearboxes, it has been found wanting on quite a few parameters, however the company is assuring all that this time the experience will be a positive one.
The comfort that is offered by the Chassis set up is something that has surprised people who have ridden the Volkswagen Up!. Long trips can also be pleasantly handled with its significantly long wheelbase as well as its dampers contributing to ensure the same. This helps the vehicle to handle event the rough potholes quite efficiently. However, significantly high body roll exists on this vehicle. the customers may find that the Volkswagen Up! is actually not as agile as it has been perceived to be and it also seems that the steering has been made a little too light. However, one needs to appreciate the stability control system that has been put in to the vehicle. The system reminds you of its workability with the smell of its brakes – whenever the drivers push the vehicle hard.
Here Comes some good news:
For those who might feel disappointed with what the base model of the Volkswagen Up! offers, there comes news of a sportier version of the car being on its way soon. In fact, Volkswagen is not just restricting itself to providing a sports derivative of the Volkswagen Up!, it is planning to come up with a number of additional models based on the same. This also includes a five-door, fully electric model.
The Final Verdict:
The Volkswagen Up! displays a mature nature, a fact that most riders will appreciate. The crisp and clean styling also works well for this vehicle. Some features including its rear view with the large window can be considered extremely contemporary on the looks aspect. The Volkswagen Up! can be termed as a practical car but it lacks a lot as far as the fun element goes. If you have a sporty nature, you would prefer waiting for its turbocharged variant.