By on August 22, 2011

Yesterday, we talked a little about Volkswagen’s latest small car, the up! We walked down memory lane, and compared the 2012 up! with the Polo of 1975. The up! is nearly as short as the Polo of ancient times (3.54 meters). The heftier bumpers don’t leave a car designer much choice. And speaking of heft: We wondered how the up! is doing in the weight department.

When the Polo was launched in 1975, it weighed in at 685 kg (1,510 lbs) – with four guys, you could solve parking problems manually. We didn’t have much entertainment in those years, and sometimes carried a Polo to spots that were a bit inaccessible on wheels, like up a flight of stairs. This was a source of a lot of fun, especially when viewed from a beer garden across the street.

Volkswagen did not disclose the curb weight of the new up!, so we called up! Herr Schröder in Wolfsburg on Monday morning and asked.

“It’s below 1,000 kilo.”

“Can we have this with a little more precision?”

“There is a 9 in front.”

“Is that because it’s a secret, or because you don’t know yet?”

“It’s a secret.”

“I see.”

“If you guess around 950 kilo, you probably won’t make a mistake.”


Then we both lamented the fact that it’s pretty much impossible to make a real light car anymore, given all the junk the car is required to drag around these days, and bid each other a wonderful week.

Now, if the powers that be are real serious about saving gas, then they should allow cars to lose weight. Less weight, less filling!





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34 Comments on “Bulk up! Volkswagen’s Smallest Heftier Than Forebears...”

  • avatar

    Well, if you’re talking the average adult black bear (170kg), the UP! at 950kg weighs more than forebears by a long shot. Now, well-fattened male black bears can go 250kg, so in that case, it’s up to the marketing crew, and whether they think that’s pushing the truth a bit.

  • avatar

    This would be fine if saving gas was the only thing to be serious about. Minimizing emissions and automobile safety (for driver, passengers, and others impacted by a vehicle) come immediately to mind, and surely such health related issues are just as important as saving fuel, aren’t they?

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Not sure how more weight = less emissions (I always thought it was to the contrary since weight correlates positively with fuel consumption, which correlates positively with emissions).

      But you’ve just made the argument for 2.5 ton SUVs! ;-)

      • 0 avatar

        I was thinking of the catalytic converter and other emissions related devices.

      • 0 avatar

        Ironically, this is why the CO2 scam came to pass. Emissions controls are almost completely effective at eliminating pollutants from car exhaust, so aspiring totalitarians came up with the foundation of life being a pollutant. All that added weight and the power needed to move it equal additional CO2 production, no matter how you spin it.

      • 0 avatar

        There are other (noxious) emissions besides CO2. I would think that reducing such emissions (and their harmful impacts) is generally a good thing.

  • avatar

    If its below 1,000kg, likely ~950kg, its well within the weight range of its competitors, and a good deal lighter then the current PQ25 platform cars like the Polo.

    The nuovo 500/Ford Ka are near that weight range as well, not to mention the weight also being near the Twingo and Suzuki Swift. That said its also nowhere near the kei cars in weight which generally is closer to ~850kgs (The upcoming Daihtasu Mira e:S is aiming for 700 kgs).

    Personally, I’m trying my mightiest to understand what’s so unique about this car compared to its competition, or even its Wolfsburg forebearers. Possibly its new modular platform? However moving away from the rear-engine layout, which is the right business decision, strips much of its originality from this car and makes it merely a seemingly competent competitor to whats already out there.

    • 0 avatar

      Ancient Madion Avenue saying: “first you sell the sizzle, and then you sell the steak.”

      In car biz, make a whiz-bang concept prototype, show it to customers to get the to delay buying a competitor’s latest offering, show it to arab investors to calm them and et them to cough-up! more cash, then transfer its design cues and name onto a more pedestrian thing and then talk, sizzle, sizzle, sizzle….

      • 0 avatar

        VW Sizzle! may not be a bad name(though car names that have association with fire is not ideal). But this car’s name seems to have a lot of appeal. If this car was merely called a Polo/Lupo I think it would have garnered far less attention; verus the Pixar-iffic “up!” with an exciting exclamation mark in its name giving it lots of ‘sizzle’.

        The real question becomes the price and the more pedestrian things as you’ve said. €8,000 has been discussed. Which also leaves the question of where it will be produced? VW’s Slovak plant is a no-brainier(they’ve also started retooling last month), but what of China, Latin America, and India?

        Also, with this micro-car set for the world, why does VW even need Suzuki?

      • 0 avatar

        VW is sourcing parts for production in Europe, China and Brazil (maybe one other location, but I don’t recall.)

        “VW Sizzle! (though car names that have association with fire is not ideal)”

        In the trade, the Office of the General Counsel (i.e. “the law boys”) would force it to be renamed the “VW Unintended Thermal Event!” !! (keep your eyes peeled for an up! w/a UTE-option!

  • avatar

    There is never anything unique about a VW, they always try to take the best of what’s outthere, they are rarely innovators, but at the end they offer a good enough product in a non-offensive (or boring, depending where you sit) package. Average weight, average styling, no real downfall, a shiny value-adding badge and high price, you got your VW.

    • 0 avatar

      So…the Beetle wasn’t unique (okay, so it may have been more of a Porsche creation than from “Volkswagen” the company as we know it now…but it started the whole show)…and the Golf (MkI…especially in GTi form) wasn’t unique? I’ll agree that as of late, some of their product is less than stellar, but I’d hardly go so far as to say that there was no innovation.

      • 0 avatar

        Beetle is not even recent enough to bear mentioning, but since you have, the company rode that horse so long, and tried to extend it’s technological dead-end so many times, it nearly put itself out of business…

        And actually, the Golf I was co-opted from Audi fundimentals…

      • 0 avatar

        The Rabbit (Golf) MK1 wasn’t all made of fresh ideas from VW, just check the R5 (Le Car), Hatchback, FWD, watercooled, rack and pinion steering, and the size almost the same, of course the aesthetics are totally different.
        And even the R5 takes much from the R4.
        When the Caribe (as it was sold in Mexico) was launched in the 70s they made an ad, bragging to be the first car in Mexico with FWD, disc Brakes and so forth.. just to be slapped by the french with an ad stating that since 1963 they sold the R4 in Mexico and the R5 with a similar offering and better mileage.
        However, the Caribe was a fun car to drive.


      • 0 avatar

        Porsche copied the Beetle (KdF) from a Tatra. Tatra even sued VW (and won)

      • 0 avatar

        I always heard that Porsche hoped to steal from the French (esp. during the occupation) to design the people’s car, and that Citroen worked hard to avoid giving up the information. Beetle, 2CV – body design separated at birth?

  • avatar

    “It’s a secret.”

    Is he a dipscheit? Eventually somebody will put one of these on a scale. The weight is irrelevant if it gets good economy and is fun to drive.

    “given all the junk the car is required to drag around these days”,

    Like the airbags: now column, knee, passenger, sidebags, baby-seat defeat switch, sensors for seat weight & position, g-sensor;

    or belts: pyrotechnic tensioners, load-limiters ECUs, wiring, ECU and warning lights;

    or steering column: now energy absorbing w/tilt-telescopic with collapsing steering shaftand electric power-steering;

    or Euro-NCAP 5-star body-structures: BIW, rear-impact compliant seats, fuel systems;

    or stability systems ((ABS, ASR, ESP, ESR,and the sensors wires ECU’s motors which make them work);

    or decent gauges and interior lighting, electric rear-window defrost, headlamp levelling devices;

    or electric fuel-injection, catalyst with closed-loop control;

    or good seats (adjustable and heated!), multi-speaker stereo-mp3-gps-surround-sound-with-subwoofer-with-bluetooth-interface, rain-sensor, cruise-control, a/c, a/t, am/t or DSC/t and carpeted floor-mats;

    or new, more, better, safer, cleaner, bigger (esp. the VW logos frt & rr) and seemingly everything under the sun but Yul Brynner…

    If Hr. Schröder/VW is worth his weight in spin, and Polo-Up! is too, the ad campaign will be hyping all this, and using the 1975 Polo as a reference.

    Something like “Everything you wanted the original Polo to have but didn’t know at the time!”

    Of course, there is a lot of other good product out there, so external comparisons will be made, if not by VW, the by bloggers, trade mags, competitors and, finally, consumers. If the car is a little porky, best for VAG to be the one to point this out and to sell it as a virtue, rather than downplay it.

    Caveat to the dips. comment at top, it could also be that the final weight of the car has yet to be established because there is still discussion over whether to provide a printed 1,500 page owner’s manual, or to just provide this info on a memory stick.

    • 0 avatar
      Sammy B

      excellent post, top to bottom.

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly! YOu can’t build a car with the original Polo’s spec, equipment level and safety anymore. It just won’t cut it anymore. You probably can’t even sell it in most advanced nations, much less have it be competitive. Unfortunately, the era of very simple, very basic, very lightweight car like the original Polo is long past us.

  • avatar

    So, it weighs somewhere around 950 kg. Which is about 2,100 lbs. Which is pretty decent for a modern car… especially when our so-called “Compact” cars are approaching 3,000 lbs. While I do expect that weight is going to decline in the coming years, I don’t expect every car on the market to suddenly drop by 25%. It’ll be 25% over the course of a few generations… 70 kg. here, 20 kg. there, that sort of thing.

  • avatar

    950 kg is similar to Scion iQ.

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on what engine/transmission combination plus what options its loaded up with, but the Toyota iQ is closer to 860 kgs, in the US its closer to 950kgs as its loaded up and even the iQ will have 50% more power then the base VW up! (60hp vs 94hp). I’m sure a similar situation will exist for the up! with different engine combinations that will push its weight over 1,000kgs.

      Probably a better point of comparison is the Toyota Aygo/Citroën C1/Peuget 107. Similar in engine, shape, size, and even design. Its base engine is similar 1-liter 3-cylinder engine, fwd layout, designed to be affordable for the European market. The Aygo/107/C1 ranged between 890kg~1050kgs.

  • avatar

    The Japanese Zero fighters were pretty light weight and very maneuverable. Look what good it did them ;-)

  • avatar

    “it’s pretty much impossible to make a real light car anymore”

    Precisely. It comes as no shock whatsoever that a car made in 2011 weighs more than its 36-year-old spiritual successor.

    What you fail to mention is that it’s pretty much impossible to make a safe, inexpensive car weighing “less than 1,000 kilos” anymore. VW has somehow done that.

    Sure, they could probably have made it 500kg using aluminum, composites and carbon fiber, but then it would have to be marketed as the Audi A0, completely missing its point as an entry-level runabout.

  • avatar

    I find more disappointment in the fact that it’s not rear-engine/rear-drive with a boxer four…

  • avatar

    The biggest piece of dead weight this vehicle has to carry is the exclamation point.

    I guess they attended the “ee cummings” school of branding.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Actually 950 Kg (2094 lbs.) is not that bad. Here is the competition:

    Curb weights
    Fiat 500 2363 lbs.
    Mini Cooper 2535 lbs.
    Honda Fit 2489 lbs.
    Ford Fiesta 2537 lbs.

    Of course, that is before they fit the US! version with the 2.5 l. Iron Duke.

  • avatar

    Do you actually want an original Polo? Who would buy that, even if it were legal?

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t even bother man.

      Internet car bloggers TALK about the romance of riding around in smelly tin cans, but for “whatever reason” drive the drab machines they complain about.

      It’s bogus.

      This looks good though. Aside from the ridiculously inefficient engine.

  • avatar

    I heard that Ralph lauren collects cars…

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