Here’s what’s Up!
As I’ve said, if you are able to get along without a car, more power to ya. I tried it, and I didn’t much like it. A car can come in handy. And while the one I have (which cost less than an Asian scooter) serves well, it’s not going to live forever. I’d definitely be interested in replacing it with one of these.
Volkswagen had planned to introduce its Up! microcar to the world at the upcoming Frankfurt Auto Show in September, but keeping this kind of news under wraps in the Internet age is well-nigh impossible.
The Up! first appeared as a series of rear-engined concepts starting in 2007. The rear-engine layout was ultimately abandoned due to cost and complexity concerns (and because pretty much everything else VW makes is front-wheel drive). While there was speculation the production car would be named Lupo, Up! (yes, with the exclamation point) turns out to be the name they’re going with. Trim levels (I’m not making this, uh, Up!) are base Take Up!, midlevel Move Up! and posh High Up!
VW sez no diesels, but there will be a 3-pot turbocharged direct-injection petrol lump displacing 1.0 liter under the bonnet. At 11½ feet long, it’s about the same size as the new Fiat 500.
The 2-door Up! will be joined shortly by a 4-door version, and later on by variants of every conceivable size and shape. Including electric ones. Something along the lines of a Transit Connect seems likely if not mandatory, though a rebooted Microbus based on the Up! platform strikes me as more in the spirit of the original than what’s being proposed. It would look better with a surfboard on the roof, anyway. 😉
How much? Well, VW has so far indicated the Up! would be a high-volume item, so that would suggest a relatively low price. VW could crank them out like sausages at their giant plant in Puebla, Mexico (where Golfs, Jettas and Beetles sold in the U.S. come from) and sell ’em cheap all over the hemisphere.
OTOH, if VW’s U.S. honchos position it as an automotive bauble like the 500 and MINI, it will be priced accordingly. Which would be a shame, because what the U.S. auto market really needs right now is a People’s Car. Not another Rich People’s Car.
(More details and a nice photo gallery can be found here.)