At just 3.6m long, the UP! is one of the smallest cars you can buy. Although it can’t bend the laws of physics, it is surprisingly spacious inside. The boxy dimensions mean that the interior will accommodate even tall adults comfortably in the front and a six-footer would be able to cope with a short distance in the back too. It’s strictly a four-seater though, so look elsewhere if you need a car that can carry three people in the back, even if they’re kids. Besides the space considerations, there’s no centre seat belt on the rear seat.
The boot should be able to cope with a week’s shopping or a couple of carry-on suitcases too, and it’s no different in size to the petrol version of the UP!. There’s also a space underneath to stash your charge cable if you plan to top up when you are out. If you need more space, the rear seats fold and have a two-thirds/one-third split – handy if you need to carry a combination of luggage and people.
To save costs, the e-UP! relies on your smartphone for many of its features, but it’s no worse as a result. Safety scores are a little disappointing though.
There’s only one model of e-UP! available, and luckily it’s pretty well equipped with tech features that make life with an electric car a bit easier. These include a heated windscreen, climate control and seat warmers to ensure you make the most efficient use of battery power to heat the inside and preserve the range when it’s cold.
Our favourite part of e-UP! technology is actually what it doesn’t have – a screen. Rather than have an on-board computer for the navigation, stereo and other features, the e-UP! just has a clip and connector on top of the dashboard so you can mount your phone there and use it. It saves cost and weight, will always use the latest information and doesn’t have any compatibility issues. Just make sure it is kept in Driving Mode to avoid any dangerous distractions.
It might seem a little cheapskate when rivals offer built-in tech, but it seems pretty sensible to us.
There’s a bit of controversy surrounding the crash test scores of the VW e-UP!. The independent authority which tests most of the cars on sale, Euro NCAP, tried the latest model but stripped it of the previous top five-star score which was given to the petrol version in 2011.
It’s not because the Volkswagen is any less strong in an accident. Instead, Euro NCAP has evolved its scoring system and now insists on certain electronic crash-prevention technology before it will award the full five stars. To keep costs down, VW has removed the option to have automatic braking and NCAP are sulking as a result.
Besides this, the UP! does quite well in the tests, with curtain and side airbags giving good occupant protection scores from the actual crash tests and electronic lane assist as standard helping to prevent swiping a car on the motorway.