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First UK drive: Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.

First UK drive: Volkswagen e-up!
Volkswagen's diminutive up! gets charged up with the addition of the e-up! all-electric model.

   



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| First Drive | Milton Keynes, England | Volkswagen e-up! |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Volkswagen up! bins its internal combustion engine for batteries, an electric motor and an extension cable. The urbane urban runabout now offers a guilt-free green drive - within the limitations of its drivetrain of course.

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen e-up!
Pricing: 19,250 (after 5,000 government grant)
Engine: AC PSM (permanently excited synchronous motor) electric drivetrain
Transmission: front-wheel drive, single-speed automatic
Body style: five-door, four-seat hatchback
Rivals: Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Smart fortwo ev
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Top speed: 81mph
0-62mph: 12.4 seconds
Power: 82hp at peak
Torque: 210Nm from start

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Nothing new here that we've not said about the up! previously. As small hatchbacks go the up! is pleasingly styled, its proportions and detailing giving it a charm and solidity that is absent in most of its city car rivals. Externally, 15-inch 'Tezzle' alloy wheels differentiate it from its conventionally powered relations, as do LED running lights and blue-backed chrome VW roundels. If you miss all those then the 'e-up!' badges are fairly unambiguous, too.

Changes inside include the lengthiest standard equipment list of any up!, while blue stitching on the steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever, some e-up! badging and additional functionality within the 'Maps and More' portable multi-functional device mark out the electrically powered up!. There's more info in the central screen between the instruments too, while the spare wheel is removed and there's a pair of charging cables in the boot. That loses just one litre in load capacity with the seats up. It all feels beautifully built as ever, which, given this plug-in machine's list price, is no bad thing.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Volkswagen's greenest up! is also its fastest. Throw out any ideas of economy and floor the accelerator and the e-up! will reach 62mph in 12.4 seconds from rest. Do so regularly and you'll be lucky to manage 62 miles however, Volkswagen quoting a range of between 75 and 99 miles on a full charge. To achieve that there's a host of ways of eking out the maximum distance from the lithium-ion battery. The single-speed automatic transmission offers five different levels of recuperation, from Drive, which coasts when lifting off the accelerator, to B, which creates a heavy regenerative effect when off the right pedal. In between those two extremes is D1, D2 and D3, which mean increasing levels of energy scavenging. D2 and D3's effect (as well as the B mode's) deliver enough resistance to slow the e-up! so much as to necessitate the illumination of the brake lights.

There are also Eco and Eco+ modes, which change the accelerator's response and the motor's output (Eco+ being the purest mode on offer), along with switching off heating and cooling for absolute maximum range. That gives you plenty of choice behind the wheel, or more properly at the gearstick, and two eco buttons, which keeps you busy. A wheel-mounted button or paddles might assist, especially if you're switching between modes often due to differing traffic conditions.

A bit of practice and anticipation allows use of the D modes to create engine braking, the brakes also adding to the regenerative effect - though not featuring the lifeless feel of so many electric cars' middle pedals. It's easy to leave the whole thing in Drive and allow it to coast on lift-off, it feeling the most natural mode in use, as the regenerative modes make for on-off progress as the drivetrain scavenges back energy. The steering is nicely weighted and the drivetrain completely silent in operation, the biggest surprise not just that the e-up! is the fastest up! in the line-up, but it's also the best handling, as the positioning of the lithium-ion battery pack lowers the centre of gravity. Mid-range urgency is impressive, the e-up!'s acceleration instantaneous, and the effect feels even greater due to the absence of noise. Like all electrically powered cars there's a niggling anxiety about potential range, but even driven briskly without much consideration to economy the e-up! doesn't deplete its range alarmingly, the instruments giving an apparently accurate guide of the energy reserves and potential remaining range.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

Absolutely everything. Really. Sweetening the hit of the most expensive up! - by a sizeable margin and even after the Government stumps up a 5,000 grant - is a specification list that includes every conceivable bit of equipment you can have on regular up! models. That includes City Emergency Braking, which Volkswagen claims is a first for the city car sector.

Worth Noting

With just a single-speed transmission there's no reverse gear, so to reverse the e-up! the motor's polarity is simply reversed. Charging times vary depending on the outlet, but a full charge from a standard AC socket from flat to full is nine hours. A CCS (Combined Charging System) charge can give 80 per cent in just 30 minutes, while a wallbox, available free of charge from Volkswagen's partners, British Gas, allows a full charge at home in six hours.

Summary

The new e-up! has all the charm of the conventional up!, with silent, environmentally-friendly running. So long as you can live with the limitations of its drivetrain - range and charge times specifically - the e-up! is a desirable, if expensive addition to the growing choice of electric vehicles on offer from mainstream manufacturers.


Kyle Fortune - 22 Jan 2014



  www.volkswagen.co.uk    - Volkswagen road tests
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2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.



2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 

2014 Volkswagen e-up! Image by Volkswagen.
 






 

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