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VW mini is on the way Up!

Three in one: The VW Up! concept will apear under VW, Skoda and Seat badges.

Volkswagen’s all-new city-car will be all in the family for 2011

23 Apr 2009

VOLKSWAGEN’S rear-engined Up! city car has taken another step from concept to reality with confirmation that it will go into production at Volkswagen Group’s Bratislava factory in Slovakia from 2011.

And it will not be just one car, but a family – the New Small Family – of at least three micro vehicles based on VW’s smallest platform.

To be built for world consumption in three and five-door body styles under the VW Group’s VW, Skoda and Seat badges, the range is expected to be powered by a choice of two and three-cylinder engines with outstanding fuel economy, said to be less than 3.5L/100km on the smallest engine.

Whether any of the sub-Polo models make it to Australia is likely to hinge on the success or otherwise of similar runabouts in this market, starting with the Suzuki Alto which arrives Down Under in August.

Others waiting in the wings are a potential Holden, the Chevrolet Spark, Ford’s second-generation Ka and the Toyota iQ.

3 center imageFrom top: VW Space Up concept VW Up! interior Audi A3.

The VW Up! has been in the pipeline since the concept was revealed at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show.

Since then, it has turned up in various iterations, including the wagon-like Space Up! at the 2007 Tokyo motor show and, more recently, the Up! Blue, powered by what VW describes as the world’s first high-temperature fuel cell.

The Space Up! was inspired by the original VW Samba Bus of the 1950s, and underscores the flexibility of the rear-engined, rear-drive platform – the first for VW since the original Beetle.

VW chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn said Slovakia had been chosen to produce the new model line because of its flexibility.

“Four brands (VW, Skoda, Audi and Seat) are already produced successfully at our plant in Bratislavia today,” he said.

However, European reports suggest that Bratislavia was also chosen over competing plants to help protect jobs threatened by a global downturn in sales of larger vehicles, including the Skoda Octavia and Audi’s Q7, which are built there. VW says the decision secured 1500 jobs.

While the Up! clearly has great potential in Europe’s narrow and crowded streets, it also is targeted at emerging markets such as India and China, where VW Group already has a strong presence.

While the fuel-cell drivetrain shown in LA is fanciful at this end of the market, the Up! nevertheless is expected to house alternative powerplants - such as hybrids - alongside conventional turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.

The original three-door Up! hatch shown at Frankfurt was 3450mm long and 1630mm wide – bigger than the Smart ForTwo but similar to the Fiat 500.

The bigger, four-seat Space Up! was 3680mm long – 154mm longer than the Fiat 500, which is built on a platform shared with the Ford Ka.

Read more:

First look: New low-cost VW aims to be ‘Smarter’

LA auto show: VW Up! goes Blue

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