The Up! gets a mid-cycle refresh with more fun

Small city cars might not be popular in the U.S., but they’re all the rage in Europe. Blame it both on higher fuel prices and narrow roads, small cars typically sell well in the sprawling urban environments found overseas. Volkswagen is no stranger to these small cars, having quite the colorful history with automaking since its creation amidst the Second World War. The 2016 Geneva Motor Show hosted VW’s latest small car entry – the refreshed Up!.

The Up! sports restyled body panels with new available color choices, new wheels, a redesigned interior, a new slew of customization options, and a new powertrain. Basically, VW replaced everything but the chassis. The new engine produces more horsepower and torque than ever offered in the Up! – more so in fact that VW claims the new Up! matches the performance of the original Golf GTI.

Volkswagen proudly boasts the Up! is the number one selling vehicle in its segment inside Germany and the Netherlands. Outside Europe, the Up! still has major sales success in Brazil, Japan, and South Africa. These updates should help boost sales even more, helping VW on its goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen up!.

  • 2017 Volkswagen Up!
  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    89
  • Torque @ RPM:
    118
  • Displacement:
    1.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    115 mph
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 668523

The Up! looks extremely futuristic with its new design, especially out back. The rear window glass flows seamlessly down onto the hatch, making the blacked out panel something of an eye-catcher. Even the emblems are attached to the glass.

Up front, the new bumper design boasts more black trim pieces, with a sort of Cheshire cat look

Up front, the new bumper design boasts more black trim pieces, with a sort of Cheshire cat look. The large VW emblem separates the two LED-encrusted headlights, tying the entire look together. Like before, the wheels are placed near each corner, giving the Up! a rather sporty look. The tall greenhouse holds a huge windshield and large side glass, making outward visibility impressive. Sharp lines accentuate every body panel, with creases on the fender wells, around the beltline, along the hood, on the lower portion of the doors, and along the rear bumper.

Overall, the Up! looks far more up-scale (pardon the pun). Its new appearance makes the car feel more valuable than most offerings in this sub-compact class.

Interior

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Interior
- image 668525
A new steering wheel and gauge cluster greet the driver, with a revised center stack holding HVAC and radio controls

The interior changes are drastic, but the outgoing design is still present underneath the differences. Most noticeable is the new dash panel. As seen here, the yellow accents help liven the otherwise dark cabin. The yellow continues onto the seats and upper door panels. Though VW’s press release doesn’t mention it, this color splash is likely optional, with other colors offered as well.

A new steering wheel and gauge cluster greet the driver, with a revised center stack holding HVAC and radio controls. A new lower console features a single cup holder a small shelf, and the gear shifter. Two more cup holders reside in the door panels. An old-school parking brake resides between the seats, sadly eliminating any hope for a center storage compartment. Then again, the Up! is a small car with little extra interior volume. The space between the seats is very, very limited.

VW is taking smart phone integration to the next level with the Up!. Rather than having an expensive infotainment screen, an optional phone mount hold the driver’s (or passenger’s) smart phone. With a special VW app downloaded and running, the phone becomes the infotainment system with navigation, on-board computer functions, and Bluetooth connectivity.

For audiophiles, an available sound system from BeatsAudio makes the Up! a mobile sound chamber, pumping 300 watts of power into the tiny cabin. Also available is VW’s Pure Air Climatronic system. The HVAC system uses a biogenic filter to keep the cabin free of outside air contaminants like pollen and allergens.

Drivetrain

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Exterior
- image 668520
The new engine isn’t just more powerful, it’s more efficient and green

The Up! is now powered by an all-new, 1.0-liter TSI inline three-cylinder. The turbocharged engine features direct fuel injection, helping it make 89 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. More impressively, peak torque comes on at only 1,500 rpm. Thanks to the car’s light curb weight, the Up! can reach 62 mph in 10 seconds while its top speed is listed at 115 mph. Power is routed to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

The new engine isn’t just more powerful, it’s more efficient and green. The car averages 4.4 l/100 km, which translates to 53.4 mpg. Even with a small fuel tank, the Up! can travel 800 km, or nearly 500 miles on a single fill-up. (Again, the pun was intended.)

Prices

Volkswagen has not announced pricing for the 2017 Up!, but we suspect pricing will stay close to current levels. The current base trim, the Take Up!, starts at £8,945, or $12,710 at current exchange rates. Selecting the range-topping Rocket Up!, the price escalates to £13,695, or nearly $20,000.

Competition

Fiat 500

2017 Fiat 500S
- image 667894

While U.S. buyers aren’t too familiar with the Up!, we are gaining an appreciation for the Fiat 500. This tiny city car offers a fun ride in an equally fun package. Four seats means with wife and kids can ride along, though the kiddos had better be pre-teen size to fit comfortably. There’s even a truck that expands with the rear seatbacks folded. The Fiat 500 is offered with several different engine options, depending on the market. However, the most fun option is the 1.4-liter turbo engine found in the 500 Abarth.

Prices for the 500 start at $16,995 and expand to $22,500 for the sporty Abarth.

Read our full review on the Fiat 500 here.

Smart ForTwo

2015 Smart Fortwo High Resolution Exterior
- image 560218

The Smart ForTwo is perhaps the quintessential city car – at least in the eyes of Americans. It was the first true super sub-compact vehicle offered in the States and gave U.S. buyers a taste of European driving tastes. The ForTwo got its most recent update for the 2015 model year and offers sharper exterior looks, a much more inviting cabin, and three new engine options. Opting for the most powerful, you’ll get a 0.898-liter (that’s 898 CCs) three-cylinder making 90 horsepower and 99 pound-feet of torque. That’s certainly nothing to brag about, but when the car’s curb weight barley scratches 1,900 pounds, not much is needed for propulsion.

Prices for the 2016 Smart ForTwo start at $14,650 here in the U.S.

Read our full review on the Smart ForTwo here.

Conclusion

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Exterior
- image 668519

Volkswagen must have done its homework when preparing for this mid-cycle refresh. The 2017 Up! is more fun looking, more efficient and environmentally friendly, and filled with more up-to-date technology. These are all things modern urban buyers are looking for. Best of all, the pricing is right. Folks in the U.S. have an extremely limited selection of sub-$13,000 vehicles, much less one with such personality. Then again, the Up! probably isn’t the smartest choice for hour-long commutes on interstate freeways where speeds are often exceeding 75 mph.

Nevertheless, the Up! isn’t sold Stateside and our European friends seem smitten with the little car. It’s just nice to see VW invest in the smallest end of its growing lineup.

  • Leave it
    • * Small cabin
    • * Not sold in the U.S.

Press Release

The smallest Volkswagen is becoming yet more colourful and sharper still. Late this summer, the second series of the up! will be launched in Europe – with newly designed 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. Volkswagen is presenting the new version of the up! to the public for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show. The up! has been one of Europe’s most successful small cars for five years. In countries such as Germany and the Netherlands it is the number 1 in its segment. However, the up! has also enjoyed great success outside Europe, with strong performance in markets such as Brazil, Japan and South Africa.

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Exterior
- image 668521

New design and interior elements. Every version of the up! presented in Geneva will come with new headlights (with LED daytime running lights as standard), new bumpers, a prominent rear diffuser, newly designed tail lights, new exterior mirror housings with integrated indicator lights, new colours and décors for the dashpad (dashboard styling panel) as well as new seat designs. Just like the larger Volkswagens, the latest up! is now also available with the "Light and Sight" package ("Coming home" and "Leaving home" functions as well as rain sensors). Fog lamps will now also feature cornering lights. Volkswagen is also offering the up! with a multi-function steering wheel and Pure Air Climatronic (automatic air conditioning) for the first time. Pure Air includes an air quality sensor with an active biogenic filter that keeps the atmosphere in the cabin at a consistently high level and prevents pollutants, fungal spores or allergens from entering via the system.

New turbo engine. The outstanding new engine of the up! offers a ground-breakingly efficient drive system: the 1.0 TSI. This turbocharged direct petrol injection (TSI) delivers a powerful 66 kW/90 PS. The maximum torque of 160 Nm is available from 1,500 rpm. The three-cylinder engine is the first turbo for the up! and the most powerful motor to date. It delivers truly dynamic performance, with a top speed of 185 km/h, and takes just 10 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h. This up! even strives to match the driving performance of the first Golf GTI. Its dynamism is paired with high efficiency: 4.4 l/100 km (equating to 102 g/km CO2*/*forecast value) meaning that the up! 1.0 TSI can cover up to 800 km on a single tank of fuel. The sportiness of the most powerful up! is emphasised by the visible exhaust tailpipe.

2017 Volkswagen Up! High Resolution Exterior
- image 668522

New smartphone integration. Another innovation in the new up! is its smartphone integration. Just connect the smartphone above the dashpad, pair via Bluetooth and it becomes an infotainment system with navigation system and on-board computer functions, thanks to the Volkswagen app.

New up! beats with a 300 W sound system Coinciding with the market launch of the new up!, Volkswagen is offering a new equipment version: the up! beats, a car whose overall concept is defined by sound, because it comes with a 300 W sound system – from the American audio specialists BeatsAudio™, as standard. In this case, smartphone integration also comes as standard.

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