By on August 21, 2011


After how many years of showing design studies, concepts, and prototypes of the Up! small car at just about every motor show (it’s so diminutive, it fits in the container as an afterthought), Volkswagen is getting ready to sell the Up! in earnest. The midget-car will be will be unveiled Sept. 12 at the Frankfurt auto show, for a European launch by December of this year, Volkswagen says in an emailed statement.

First, the name. Usually, a concept car gets a new name, once it’s launched. The Up! has received so much name recognition that it would be a shame to throw all that away. So Volkswagen renamed the Up! to up!. That’s right, lowercase u, lowercase p, exclamation mark. Trademark that.

If you want to know more, and see tons of pictures, mixed with irrelevant histrionics, up! with you and jump …

Second, the car: According to Volkswagen, the carlet is “a small car with charisma, a small car with maximum space on a minimal footprint, a small car with the most fuel-efficient engines or an electric drive, a small car with intuitive infotainment and operating systems, a small car with the safety of a large car.” Reminds me of the days when we introduced the Polo in 1975 under the rather uninspired concept “Außen klein. Innen groß.”  (Small on the outside, large on the inside. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.) Speaking of the Ur-Polo: The new up! is 4 centimeters longer than the Polo of lore. The up! measures 3.54 meters, whereas the old Polo was 3.5 meters long (both around 11 feet 6 inches). There is no weight specified for the up! Let’s see how it fares against the old Polo, which weighed-in at 685 kg, that was 15kg less than its design target. More on Monday – if Volkswagen talks.

Third, the trims: The up! will come in three uppity trim levels. And hearing them, we brace ourselves for a new version of Hochdeutsch, the uplanguage: The entry-level up! will be the “take up!” The middling version is called “move up!” The top version is the “high up!” (There is room for a high-powered, not very gas-efficient version called “top up!” – I made that up!). For further market segmentation, there will be special versions of the high up!: the up! black and the up! white. That’s no joke. Speaking of language: The up! wreaks havoc with autocorrect.

Fourth, the engines: The up! comes with a new generation of equally small three-cylinder engines. They output a bit more than the old Polo that puttered along with 29.5 kW /40 hp under the hood.  The up! has a choice of 44 kW / 60 hp and 55 kW / 75 hp. Advertised fuel consumption as a BlueMotion Technology version (including a Stop/Start system): 4.2 l/100 km (60hp) and 4.3 l/100 km (hp PS).  That’s 56 mpg and 54.7 mpg respectively (non-EPA). Next to no fill up! Green up! your driveway: Both of these sub 1 liter engines emit less than 100 g/km CO2. A natural gas engine with 50 kW / 68 PS with the same basic configuration will follow. (Gas up? Probably not.) There are “definite plans” for an up! with an electric drive for the year 2013. (Charge up?)

Fifth: The gizmos:  The car can be had with a PID. That’s a Portable Infotainment Device. According to Volkswagen, “the user simply snaps the PID into place above the centre console. Navigation, telephone and infotainment can now be controlled and viewed via the PID touchscreen.” If & when the car arrives stateside, Mr. LaHood will probably demand a Shut up! For distracted drivers, there is the optional City Emergency Braking. At speeds under 30 km/h, its laser sensor detects (careful now) “the risk of an imminent collision.” It “can reduce accident severity by initiating automatic brake interventions – and possibly even avoid a crash.” Copy, signed off by the Legal Dept.

Says the press release:

“Space utilization in the car is exceptionally good, because of its wheelbase – one of the longest in the segment – combined with an engine that is mounted well forward. Although the driver, front passenger and 2 rear passengers are travelling in a small car, it is by no means a cramped vehicle. On the contrary. Consider the boot: 251 litres are significantly more than is typical in the vehicle class of the up! When the rear seat is fully folded, cargo space even increases to 951 litres. These two values show that in its interior the up! will be a giant among small cars.”

History repeats again!

To my former colleagues in Wolfsburg: Descend into the archives. Find the original 1975 Polo catalog. Can’t miss it. It’s yellow. Says “Der Polo” on the outside. A lot of perfectly reusable copy from the hip 70s!




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