It’s only four-and-a-half years since the VW Up! minicar was launched at the September 2011 Frankfurt auto show in a spectacular indoor event attended by more than 2000 motoring journalists from around the world – including yours truly.
However it wasn’t until early 2015 that the cars reached South Africa
and here we are, just a year later, being told that a face-lifted model with a new engine will be launched in Europe later this year (2016). It will be launched officially at the Geneva auto show on March 1, looking very much like the original, and reach showrooms in Europe around September 2016.
Expect units to reach South Africa early in 2017 – though the choice of engine(s) has, the local folk say, yet to be decided.
The Wolfsburg-based auto giant says this the smallest Volkswagen will be “more colourful and sharper” with new body panels, new colours, new wheels, new individualisation options, new equipment, a completely redesigned interior, a new infotainment system and “an outstanding new engine that offers a significant boost in performance and torque”.
The Up!, VW says, has been one of Europe’s most successful small cars since its launch; it was No.1 in its segment in Germany and The Netherlands and claims “great success” in South Africa.
Also new or refreshed on the cars are the headlights (with LED daytime running lights), bumpers, rear diffuser, tail lights, exterior mirror housings/indicators, seats and facia colours. The main option is a “Light and Sight” package (“Coming home” and “Leaving home” functions as well as rain sensors).
Fog lights will now include cornering lights and the Up! in Europe will also offer a multi-function steering-wheel and auto aircon for the first time.
Best news is the addition of a three-cylinder, 66kW/160Nm, one-litre turbopetrol engine capable of 66kW/160Nm from 1500rpm. VW says it delivers “truly dynamic performance”: top speed is listed as 185km/h with 100km/h racked up in 10sec – which, the automaker adds, takes it close to the performance of the first Golf GTI.
“Its dynamism,” VW adds, “is paired with fuel-efficiency – 4.4 litres/100km. That means it can cover 800km on a tank.”
Another innovation is Bluetooth smartphone integration to link to a VW app that creates an infotainment system with satnav and trip data computer functions that can pump out music through a 300W sound system.
This latest Up! will be available in a choice of 13 body colours, nine body decals, 10 cabin facia designs, three roof colours, three design packs, two colour packs and two basic colours for the interior trim (“Titanium Black” and “Ceramique”), coloured alloy wheel rims and individualised-ambient light colurs – top models only.
Depending on market, there will be a wider engine choice. The first Up!s, VW says, included two three-cylinder units with multi-point fuel-injection capable of 44 or 55kW. Now there are also the 66kW 1.0 TSI as already described, a zero-emissions battery version, the 60kW e-Up!, and a natural-gas model capable of 50kW.
Seven trim levels will be available: Take Up!, Move Up!, High Up! and Eco Up! (each as a two- or four-door) and Load Up!, Cross Up! and E-Up! (four-door only). We’ll give you full details on the choices when the cars arrive in South Africa.