In a notable milestone for the automotive industry, the Volkswagen up! has officially ceased production in the United Kingdom, concluding a remarkable 12-year journey. As one of the smallest cars to grace the roads of Britain, this compact icon has left an indelible mark in the hearts of many, particularly among young drivers who were drawn to its cost-efficient operation and favorable insurance rates.
A Decade of Service
Since its introduction in 2011, the Volkswagen up! swiftly captured the attention of motorists seeking an affordable and practical driving solution. Initially available at an enticing starting price of £8256, it quickly garnered recognition as one of the most budget-friendly options on the market. However, over the years, its price tag gradually ascended, ultimately exceeding the £15,000 threshold.
Throughout its illustrious run, the Up underwent several transformations, particularly in its powertrain offerings. In its early years, buyers could opt for a 1.0-liter three-cylinder petrol engine, delivering either 59 bhp or 74 bhp. A significant facelift in 2016 introduced a turbocharged variant, boasting 89 bhp, injecting a dose of zest into the model.
A Move Towards Electrification
Notably, the Up played a pivotal role in Volkswagen’s journey toward electrification. In 2014, it welcomed the electric Volkswagen e-Up, equipped with an 18.7 kWh battery and a range of approximately 93 miles—a nod to the evolving landscape of eco-conscious driving. By 2019, a larger 32.2 kWh battery was introduced, expanding the range to an impressive 161 miles, setting it ahead of some of its contemporary electric rivals.
Farewell to the up! GTI
Enthusiasts fondly remember the Volkswagen Up GTI, a spirited addition to the family in 2018. With a robust 113 bhp, a sportier design, and a slick six-speed manual gearbox, it brought a newfound dynamism to the lineup. However, the GTI’s journey came to an unexpected halt in January of this year. Initially, Volkswagen cited soaring demand as the reason for its temporary removal from sale, yet it never returned to showrooms.
Part of a Distinguished Lineage
The Up was an integral part of the Volkswagen Group’s New Small Family (NSF) vehicle series, a collective of compact and efficient solutions tailor-made for urban driving. Alongside its counterparts, such as the Seat Mii (on sale until 2020) and the Skoda Citigo (available until 2021), it contributed to a legacy of compact motoring.
A Shift in the Lineup
With the departure of the Up, the Volkswagen Polo now occupies the position of the smallest car in Volkswagen’s UK portfolio. However, the horizon appears uncertain for the Polo, as forthcoming Euro 7 regulations may impact its future. There are hints from Volkswagen’s CEO, Thomas Schäfer, that the Polo may make way for a small electric offering—the ID 2, though specifics remain speculative.
Anticipating the Future: The ID 1
For aficionados of the Up, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Volkswagen has plans to introduce an ultra-compact electric city car, known as the Volkswagen ID 1, within the next five years. With an enticing starting price of less than £17,000, it aspires to inherit the Up’s legacy of affordability and urban mobility while embracing the electric revolution.
As we bid a fond farewell to the Volkswagen Up in the UK, we look back on the countless journeys it facilitated and the memories it created. With its economical operation and budget-friendly insurance rates, it endeared itself to many, especially the younger generation. While the Up takes its final bow, it leaves behind a lasting legacy—a testament to the enduring appeal of compact cars.
Jim Starling is the face of YouTube’s DefinitelyNotAGuru and is a featured presenter on the Men & Motors YouTube Channel. Find Jim at www.notaguru.co.uk