Volkswagen up! (2012) arrives – traditionally.

2012 VW Up

2012 VW Up - on sale in early 2012

Volkswagen has revealed the VW up! ahead of its debut at Frankfurt, but it’s a traditional FWD up!, not the Rear-Engined of the Concept up!.

Volkswagen has been trailing the VW up! forever. Well, four years – since Frankfurt 2007. And now finally – ahead of Frankfurt 2012 – we get the production version of the 2012 VW up! revealed. But it’s not exactly as radical as the concept.

The VW up! concept was a radical departure for Volkswagen, with its back-to-the-future layout of rear engine and rear wheel drive. Which some would say is the perfect recipe for a City Car.

But the production VW up! sees Volkswagen dump the entire premise of the up! and instead build it on the VW MQB platform, with the engine at the front driving the front wheels.

And instead of being a radical new addition to the Volkswagen range, the VW up! is really just a replacement for the Lupo and designed to sit below the Polo and – Volkswagen hopes – become their best-selling model.

Which probably explains the retreat from the more radical aspects of the original up! Concept (do we have to persevere with the exclamation mark? Can’t we just have VW UP or Volkswagen Up? Please).

Despite the changes under the skin from the up! concept, the production VW up does remain fairly faithful cosmetically, mimicking the sort of compact footprint with clever space utilisation we saw in the original Mercedes A-Class, but for a lot less money – we expect the VW up to start at around £8.5k.

“…instead of being a radical new addition to the Volkswagen range, the VW up! is really just a replacement for the Lupo and designed to sit below the Polo”

The VW up! retains a bigger degree of styling individuality than most of VW’s range. With a big bumper and low-set grill, hexagonal headlights and round foglights, the VW up presents a smiley face to the world.

The wheel at each corner and the flare out from the body to the wheel arches make the Up! seem butch and squat, nicely balancing the height – a clever stylistic trick as the up! is shorter, narrower and higher than the Polo.

Remarkably, despite the compact dimensions, VW claim the up! will seat four adults (we’ve seen the concept up!, and we have to say they will have to be compact adults to sit in the back) and still have room for 250 litres of ‘stuff’ in the boot – 950 litres with the back seats down.

On the oily front, the 2012 VW up will get a new 1.0 litre turbo three-pot engine with either 59bhp or 74bhp, with the 59bhp BlueMotion version with stop-start managing 67mpg (which doesn’t seem all that special) and sub-100g/km CO2 emissions.

Volkswagen are also playing the same stupid games with the up! moniker as they have over the years with the Golf (Golf Driver, Golf Caddy…). So we’re treated to three daft names for the three up! models: VW take up! for the entry level, VW move up! for the mid-range option and VW high up! for the range topper.

We also get treated to a couple of launch models based on the high up! – the black up! and the white up!. There is apparently no truth in the rumour there’s to be a VW ay up! limited edition for the North of England.

Apart from the daft names and the disappointing retreat from the up! concept’s rear wheel drive/ rear engine layout (which is what the new BMW i3 is bringing to market for a City Car), the up! will doubtless be well-built, able and appealing. And sell in droves.

The Volkswagen up! will go on sale in early 2012.

2012 VW Up! Photo Gallery

(23 photos – click any thumbnail for full gallery)

Cars UK Motoring Directory


  1. Paul Phillips says

    The starting price of about £8,500 they’re quoting won’t be for the model in the photos. This model with all the bells and whistles will be high-end, presumably. Personally, I’m waiting for the Skoda model, which will be as well [if not better] built. It’s taken VW four years to bring this car to the marketplace. Cynics might say they needed that amount of time to clear their stocks of the rather disappointing Fox. Let’s hope that they get their small car right this time!

  2. Spangle says

    It’s not a mistake, that is the rear wheel drive concept car, but they’ve put the body on back to front, making it the Balls Up!

What do you think?