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Frankfurt show: VW reveals sub-Polo Up city car

One Upmanship: VW's all-new sub-light model will hit Australian roads by the end of next year.

Diminutive Up light car revealed by Volkswagen ahead of likely Oz debut in 2012

22 Aug 2011

VOLKSWAGEN has released details of the all-new Up city car ahead of its public debut at next month’s Frankfurt motor show and almost-certain addition to the company’s already-burgeoning Australian model range next year.

The final design appears to have stayed faithful to the first Up concept car from the 2007 Frankfurt show, retaining the short overhangs and relatively long wheelbase of the show car.

The three-door city car is based on Volkswagen’s new transverse modular platform that will spawn a number of different body styles and derivatives for other VW group brands, including Skoda and Seat.

With a width of just 1640mm and a height of 1480mm, the Up is almost as tall as it is wide and, with the engine mounted well forward, this makes for a spacious interior that features a 251-litre boot, which stretches to an impressive 951 litres when the rear seats are fully folded.

Volkswagen’s global head of design Klaus Bischoff said: “If the goal is to maximise space, the ideal form for a small car would be a rectangular box. In the Up, we were able to sculpt such a box with a clean and powerful design that does not lose sight of space utilisation.” The pint-sized four-seater, which will slot into the German brand’s range beneath the larger and pricier Polo, will go on sale in Europe from December and will likely be launched in Australia some time in 2012.

3 center imageVolkswagen Australia managing director Anke Koeckler recently told GoAuto she was hopeful of having Up on sale in this country by the end of next year.

“We’re very keen on getting Up in Australia because the sub-light segment is getting more important here and will continue to do so in the future,” she said.

At 3540mm long, the car is about the same length as a Suzuki Alto, although it is unlikely to compete on price point in the highly-competitive sub-light segment of the market.

In the same way that the Polo competes with larger Japanese and Korean-built small cars, the Up is likely to be priced in line with larger light segment vehicles such as the upcoming next-generation Toyota Yaris, Holden Barina and Kia Rio models.

Despite that, Ms Koeckler said it would bring new clientele to the brand, including young buyers and those who might otherwise have considered a second-hand car.

“The Up will contribute greatly to the Volkswagen brand in Australia, where it will be our new entry-level model below the Polo and should allow new (VW) drivers and also used-car buyers to experience the look and feel of the brand.

“But it has to be less than $15,000. The Polo is $16,690, so Up has to be below that.” The relative strength of the Australian dollar has brought the little Volkswagen back into local contention after less than favourable exchange rates had previously hindered the getting it here at the right price.

The diminutive car will debut with a new-generation 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine in two different states of tune – with 44kW and 55kW of power – while BlueMotion versions use technology such as idle-stop to bring fuel consumption down to as low as 4.2 litres per 100km.

Both of these green-friendly engines are claimed to emit fewer than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometre travelled.

Following on from the initial launch will be a 50kW natural gas-powered derivative, while Volkswagen has also committed to an electric version by 2013 – a first for the brand – which was previewed by the E-Up at the 2009 Frankfurt show.

The Up will be launched in three different specifications, beginning with the interestingly named Take Up, followed by the more comfort-oriented Move Up and topped-off by the High Up flagship.

The High Up will also be joined by two independent models called Up Black and Up White, based on the flagship variant.

The sparse and clean interior layout features a relatively high-end instrument fascia and a chunky three-spoke steering wheel. Depending on the equipment line, either decor paint or one of the five body colours is used in the interior, much like the cabin of the pricier Mini Cooper.

The interior also features Volkswagen’s first mobile portable infotainment device, developed in collaboration with navigation systems manufacturer Navigon, in what appears to be a development of the portable tablet-based system from Volkswagen’s Bulli concept, which debuted at the Geneva show earlier this year.

This portable touchscreen system, which combines navigation, telephony, in-car information and music, is said to simply ‘snap-on’ to the top of the dashboard above the centre console.

Optional safety technology will include Volkswagen’s City Emergency Braking, which can automatically intervene and apply the car’s brakes in an emergency situation to avoid or lessen the severity of an impact.

Volkswagen claims the laser sensor-guided system – which is automatically active at speeds of lower than 30km/h – is a first for the sub-light vehicle segment.

Ms Koeckler said Up would be a volume-seller and not a niche model within Volkswagen’s local range, which has experienced a solid growth rate of 7.7 per cent so far this year in a local market that is down 5.9 per cent overall.

This year alone, Volkswagen has released the all-new Amarok ute range, Touareg SUV, mid-sized Passat sedan and wagon, Golf BlueMotion, facelifted Eos cabriolet and Caddy 4Motion light commercial.

Still to come in the coming months are the special-edition Golf GTI 35, revised Jetta sedan, Golf cabriolet, facelifted Tiguan compact SUV and additional Amarok derivatives.

Ms Koeckler said 2012 would be “the year of emotion” for Volkswagen in Australia, with another brand-building VW model due on sale here in the second half of the year – the redesigned Beetle hatch.

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