Volkswagen e-UP! – REVIEW

Take a great city car and make it even better with a compact electric motor and 204 battery cells.  That’s exactly what VW did when they created this electric car, the e-UP!

What is the Volkswagen e-UP!

Launched in 2014, the all- electric e-UP! is not a new car, but has received a mid-life nip and tuck to the grown up looks it enjoys, where the unique C-Shaped LED daytime lights indicate this is the electric model.  With four seats and an adequate boot it is an ideal town car.  The regular UP! always receives rave reviews for it’s build quality, character and engaging driving experience, yet falls down with excess body-roll.  The electrified derivative doesn’t suffer with this problem.  With the extra weight of 230kg of batteries, positioned low in the car the driving experience gets better as the car holds the road with rather unexpected poise.

It’s closest rival the Renault ZOE  was designed to be an EV from the outset.  In contrast the e-UP! is based around the standard petrol or diesel UP!  Upfront you find 60kw (82PS equivalent) electric motor which generates 210nm of instant torque meaning this little yellow car can embarrass most larger cars off at the lights where 40mph can be reached in 5 seconds – this is car where the zero to 60mph performance figure does not tell the whole story.  This combined with the precise road-holding means the e-UP! really is a joy a drive.

Interior

Volkswagen is synonymous with build quality and the use of top end materials.  Even its entry-level car the UP! still has a high quality feel, yet at £20,780 after the UK Government grant, you cannot forget the electric version is based on a car that starts at £9,000.  The e-UP! does come equipped with pretty much all the option boxes ticked bringing it in-line with top-of-the-range “High-up” model which is closer to £14k.  Inside you find traditional rotary dials displaying the your energy usage and how much you have left in the ‘tank’ in a manner familiar to those driving regular cars, with the same steering wheel you would find in a current Golf which adjusts for height and is trimmed in soft leather with glossy black accents.  Optionally available are steering mounted buttons for the integrated stereo, the highlight of which is the ability to set the display to match the colour of your car – a neat touch.  For ‘infotainment’, Volkswagen provides a holder to slot-in your smart-phone and a free app, which includes Sat Nav and guidance on how to drive efficiently, called Maps + More, with which you can also programme your e-UP! to warm up or cool down before you set off.

The airy, spacious interior provides ample seating for 4 large adults, with headroom good enough for 6ft 6inch passengers. The front seats are someone flat and lack side support but remain comfortable on long journeys when the big door bins and spacious glove box will come in handy, although the two cup holders could leave the kids arguing over where they put their ‘Fruit Shoots’.

The e-UP! is only available as five-door car with wide opening rear doors making access to the rear seats simple where two ISOFIX child seat mounting points and matching headrests add to the excellent safety list, as does the standard city emergency braking and stability control.  A centrally split folding rear seat extends the boot space to create a small van, the only downside being a slight lip to the entry which is painted and awaits scratches.  With the seats up the boot is surprisingly deep and with natty variable height boot floor things just get better.  The space beneath can also be used to store your charging cables, two of which come as standard.  A type 2 cable for use with your home charging unit or for when you are out and about, plus one with a 3-pin plug, know as a “Granny cable” which is a useful backup when visiting friends or family (or Granny).

Driving range

The e-UP! is equipped with 18.7kwh of batteries, smaller than those of its rival the ZOE.  The official range of the e-UP! is 99miles when using the NEDC calculation and VW suggests a range of 75 to 100miles is achievable in summer time.  During our week with the car, we saw a maximum of 94miles indicated and 75miles possible in cool temperatures whilst driving around town, where this car is likely to spend most of its time.  Research suggest 95% of all journeys are less than 10miles.  With regular access to a charger range isn’t an issue.

With 2 economy driving modes (ECO and ECO+), combined with 4 levels of regenerative braking, chosen via the gear selector, the VW can predominately be driven using just one pedal – by adjusting the accelerator you can maximise the amount of energy returned back into the batteries, slowing the car to stop without touching the brakes – adding more miles onto your range.

When using your “Granny Cable” expect an overnight charge to take 9 hours.  Using the faster type 2 inputting 3.7kw a full charge is yours in 4 to 6 hours.  When out and about, making use of a rapid charger equipped with a CCS DC connection will give an 80% charge in just 30 minutes.

Opinion, 4/5

The Volkswagen e-UP! is very likable car with great character and a quality finish.  The only real problem is the cost.  The list price is £25,480 before the Government gives you £4,500 as part of the Plug-in Grant.  At that price few will give it a second look, which it does deserve.

Making use of the car broker CarWow, we received a price of £22,685 (before the Government grant), bringing it closer in price to the Renault ZOE.  If you don’t need the greater range the revised ZOE now offers the e-UP! would be a friendly addition to any family.

Dimensions:
Length:3540mm
Width:  1910mm
Height: 1489mm

Boot:    251litres (seats up), 959litres (seats down)

Performance:
0 to 60mph to 12.4seconds
Top Speed 81mph

UK Base list price:
£25,280 (before £4500 Gov’t grant)

UK Test car price:
£25,855 (before £4500 Gov’t grant)

Test car included the following options: Honey Yellow Metallic paint and a rear view camera.

Warranty:
The e-UP! comes with an eight-year and 99,360 mile warranty for the lithium-ion battery pack, while the rest of the car is covered by a standard three-year / 60,000 guarantee.

All details as at February 2017

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.