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Volkswagen goes Up in 2012

Doors galore: The just-revealed VW Up five-door hatchback is near identical in most other respects to the three-door version.

VW Up city car three- and five-door to land in Australia before the year is out

Volkswagen logo25 Jan 2012

By RON HAMMERTON

VOLKWAGEN Group Australia has confirmed a late-2012 roll-out for the all-new Up city car in both three-door and five-door formats as the exclamation mark on another big year of new-model activity from one of Australia’s fastest-growing motor companies.

The action has already started, with stocks of the Golf-based Sirocco R sports hatch now in dealerships ahead of next week’s formal media launch.

A refreshed Polo is also in the wings for a February launch, while the new Volkswagen CC coupe-convertible – dropping the Passat name – is on target for a mid-year debut in Australia, about two months ahead of local sales of the Passat Alltrack crossover vehicle that was previewed at the 2011 Tokyo motor show.

The roll-out of the new Amarok ute range continues, with the arrival of more diesel, petrol, automatic and single-cab variants to greatly expand the appeal and reach of the Argentine-made ute this year.

The new-generation Beetle is also on the launch pad for a fourth-quarter launch in Australia, but the biggie for 2012 in volume terms will be the arrival of the Up to take up its new position below the Polo in the expanding VW range.

3 center imageLeft: Volkswagen Up five- and three-door. Below: Beetle and CC.

Confirmation that the three- and five-door models will arrive in Australia at the same time was given in Sydney this week by VW passenger cars general manager marketing Jutta Friese who dismissed some media speculation that Australia would only take a three-door Up – a rumour triggered by the discontinuation of the three-door Polo Trendline in this market last October.

As GoAuto reported at the time, the entry level three-door Trendline would be replaced by a five-door Polo Trendline early this year – a model now confirmed by Ms Friese.

Pricing for the revised Polo line-up has been held back until next week, but it should be well below the current cheapest five-door Polo, the $19,850 TSI Comfortline.

Although pricing for the new Up range is still being negotiated between Volkswagen Group Australia and its German head office, the five-door Up is expected to arrive in Australia with a sub-$16,000 price tag, pitching it directly against the likes of Toyota’s Yaris and Mazda’s Mazda2.

The three-door version should make it into the country at about $14,000, making it by far the cheapest European-built car offered in Australia for a generation.

The Up will be launched in Australia only in petrol guise, with no plans for the diesel or compressed natural gas models offered in Europe where the three-door model went on sale in December in three specification levels with two (44kW and 55kW) variants of the three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine mated with a manual gearbox (a five-speed automated manual gearbox is coming).

Ultimately, VW Australia is set to take the all-electric version, the e-Up, some time after it hits Europe in 2013.

The three- and five-door Ups appear to be near identical, apart from the extra two rear doors.

They sit on the same New Small Family (NSF) compact car platform, with an identical 2420mm wheelbase and 251-litre boot.

While pricing and range details of the Up for Australia are still under wraps, the new model is expected to arrive too late in the year to have a major impact on VW sales volumes for 2012.

Likewise, the new Beetle – the second generation of the ‘new Beetle’ – is unlikely to give the brand any significant short-term lift, but 2013 will be a different matter.

Last year, VW was the fastest-growing top 10 brand in Australia, with sales jumping 17.4 per cent to 44,740 units.

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