EVs are known to make great city cars. Range isn’t as important when travelling shorter distances in urban areas – plus you could be spared from congestion charges. The Volkswagen e-Up! was one of the first on the market – but with an increasing number of EVs coming out, can it still lead the way?
- Decent range
- Fun to drive
- Low running costs
- Quite expensive
- Cabin is showing its age
- Not especially spacious
While Volkswagen’s new bespoke ‘I.D’ electric range might be grabbing the headlines now, this isn’t the German firm’s first brush with EVs – it’s been producing electric models since 2014 with the e-Up! and e-Golf.
The e-Up! is based on the regular petrol Up! city car, and started life with a measly 18.7kWh battery – allowing for a claimed electric range of just 83 miles. It was also scuppered by a high price, costing nearly £20,000, even with the government grant taken into account. This meant that sales were slow.
Battery technology has moved on significantly since the e-Up! first arrived in 2014. In 2020, the e-Up! has been improved with a much larger battery. With a capacity of 32.3kWh, it’s nearly twice as big as the battery found in its predecessor. This means the range has almost doubled – increasing to an impressive 159 miles.
While changes elsewhere are quite minimal, aside from it coming with the new Volkswagen logo, this electric Up! now sits alongside new sister EVs – the Skoda Citigo-e iV and the Seat Mii Electric, both of which are new models for 2020.
Fun is the name of the game with the Volkswagen e-Up!, something you couldn’t say about many electric cars on sale today. While it’s light compared to many other EVs, at 1,160kg, it’s more than 200kg heavier than petrol-powered versions. Yet its zippy nature remains, and it really is a blast to drive around town. The steering is also well-judged and the ride is comfortable, and not fidgety like plenty of other electric cars.
Despite its dinky size, it also copes well at higher speeds – and the acceleration remains impressively smooth and punchy for overtaking, even on motorways.
Looks and image
Despite the Up! being around since 2011 with minimal changes, its design remains fresh and stylish. It’s quite understated in its looks, which only adds to the appeal. The only difference in looks from the petrol model are the cool C-shaped LED daytime running lights, subtle blue accents and 15-inch alloy wheels.
If you live in a city, the e-Up!’s small proportions and great visibility are a big bonus – making it easy to park in the tightest of spaces.
One look at the dinky size of the e-Up! and it’s clear that this isn’t a particularly spacious model. That said, it’s roomier than you might expect, and impressively just as practical as the petrol Up! thanks to clever packaging that puts the electric motor under the bonnet and batteries under the rear seats.
The e-Up! is a strict four-seater, and while adults will be cramped in the back seats, it’s adequate for small trips. The 251-litre boot is a good size, too, and larger than the 211 litres found in the Mini Electric. Unlike petrol Up! versions, this electric model just comes with 5 doors – aiding practicality.
Engine and running costs
There’s only one powertrain option available with the e-Up!, which sees a 32.3kWh battery mated to an electric motor producing 81bhp and an impressive 210Nm of torque.
This allows for a 0-60mph time of 11.6 seconds, though it feels quicker than that figure suggests, along with a top speed of 81mph.
In terms of range, the e-Up! can travel for a claimed 159 miles on a single charge, and there’s potential for some exceptionally low running costs. As it emits no emissions on the road, it’s exempt from road tax, and a very appealing company car – thanks to a 0% benefit-in-kind. Charging costs will also be vastly cheaper than petrol prices, especially if you’re able to charge at home and make the most of free public chargers.
- Electric motor and 32.3kWh battery with 81bhp
- Smart EQ Fortwo – from £17,350
- Skoda Citigo-e iV – from £17,455
- Smart EQ Forfour – from £17,785
- Seat Mii Electric – from £19,800
- Mini Electric – from £24,900
- Peugeot e-208 – from £25,050
- Renault Zoe – from £26,495
- Honda e – fron £26,660
- Vauxhall Corsa-e – from £27,665
The e-Up! is available in just a single high-spec grade, with equipment highlights as follows.
e-Up! – from £20,555
- 15-inch alloy wheels
- Leather steering wheel
- Tinted glass
- LED daytime running lights
- Heated front seats
- Climate control
- Automatic lights and wipers
- Heated windscreen
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Cruise control
- Reversing camera
- 5-inch colour screen