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Car reviews - Volkswagen - Up - hatch range

Launch Story

Volkswagen logo19 Sep 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

ENTRY to a brand new Volkswagen is set to drop by $3000 in Australia when the Up city car arrives in dealers on October 6, priced from $13,990 plus on-road costs – just $500 more than the base Nissan Micra.

It will be sold in three- and five-door bodystyles – the latter priced $1000 higher and expected to be the best seller – both powered by a 55kW/95Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with five-speed manual gearbox.

The German company will keep the Up range simple in Australia with just one trim level and a small number of options – but an automatic transmission will not be among them.

Australian-delivered Ups come standard with air-conditioning, electric front windows and door mirrors, an MP3-compatible six-speaker CD audio system with auxiliary input, height-adjustable steering, 14-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare.

A $500 optional tablet-like ‘Maps and More’ unit plugs into a dock on the dashboard to provide a five-inch touch-screen with satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, infotainment functions and a comprehensive trip computer with efficient driving coach system and additional instruments gauges.

Maps and More can also be used away from the vehicle and has a function to guide the owner back to their car, as well as a 32GB SD storage card for MP3 music.

The ‘comfort syle pack’ adds 15 inch alloys, front fog lights, leather trim for the steering wheel, handbrake lever and gear shifter, contrast-stitched ‘leatherette’ upholstery, heated front seats and front and rear carpet mats for $2500.

A ‘comfort drive pack’ is $600 and adds cruise control, a multi-function instrument display and rear parking sensors, which gain a visual distance guide through the Maps and More system.

A panoramic sunroof with wind deflector and blind is $1400 and metallic or pearl paint is $500.

A coup for the sub-light segment is standard autonomous city emergency braking, which operates between 5km/h and 30km/h and warns the driver of an impending forward collision and automatically applies the brakes if the driver does not respond.

The rest of the standard safety equipment list comprises front and front-side airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist and hill holder and seatbelt reminders for all positions.

The Up has achieved the maximum five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP.

However there are no full-length side curtain airbags to provide side impact protection for rear passengers and rear parking sensors are optional.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler suggested that although the Up enters the Australian sub-light city car segment already populated by the likes of the Nissan Micra, Holden’s Barina Spark and the Suzuki Alto, it almost creates its own segment because it offers “benchmark safety, benchmark technology and benchmark efficiency”.

She said keeping the Up range simple would be easier on dealers, which already face a bewildering array of vehicles and variants, and that the single-clutch automatic ASG transmission was “not available” to Australia at the time of launch.

Ms Koeckler is unfazed by the lack of an automatic transmission, saying 60 per cent of sales in the sub-light segment are for manuals, but investigations are underway into how an automatic Up can be brought to Australia.

However Holden chairman and managing director Mike Devereux has been quoted attributing slower than expected sales of the Barina Spark to the lack of an automatic option.

As GoAuto reported from our overseas drive of the automatic Up in March – which uses an automated sequential manual gearbox like the Fiat 500 and Smart ForTwo – the Skoda-built unit is unlikely to meet Australian expectations.

Ms Koeckler said the Up will open the Volkswagen brand up to buyers who might have previously dismissed it on price grounds or been tempted by a used car and that it will not cannibalise Polo sales due to that car’s repositioning earlier this year, when the three-door entry variant was dropped.

The Up’s 2420mm wheelbase is just 36mm shorter than the Polo’s but tiny overhangs mean the Up is 524mm shorter overall at 3540mm long, while innovative driveline and interior packaging plus a 20mm-higher roof provide comparable interior space – although unlike its larger sibling the 1641mm-wide the Up is strictly a four-seater.

Cargo capacity with the split-folding rear seats up is just 10 litres less than the Polo at 251 litres, expanding to a class-leading 951L with them folded down and Volkswagen claims items of up to two metres in length can be loaded with the front passenger seat folded out of the way.

The little three-pot engine delivers 0-100km/h in 13.2 seconds and a 173km/h top speed, with official combined fuel consumption of 4.9 litres per 100km – although it requires more expensive 95 RON premium unleaded – and emits 114 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

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