Review: Volkswagen e-Up (2014)
Electric version of the Up with range of up to 100 miles. Surprisingly quick and enjoyable to drive. No compromise on boot space. Standard full charge in nine hours.
Renault Zoe is cheaper although you have to lease the battery.
Volkswagen e-Up (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £25,640
- Insurance Group 10
While some manufacturers have decided to build dedicated electric cars - the Nissan Leaf being a case in point - Volkswagen has taken the route of developing models that can be powered by different types of motor. So from its initial design, the Up was always designed to be fitted with an electric powertrain, creating the e-Up. The compact motor provides 82PS and with a single-speed gearbox it's actually the quickest Up in the range.
It's easy to see why the Up works so well as an electric car. This is after all a car designed for city and urban use. The standard model has been a big success for Volkswagen helped by its neat styling, small size yet spacious interior. These strengths all remain with the e-Up and as the lithium-ion battery is integrated into the vehicle floor there's no compromise with interior space. The boot loses just one litre.
It can travel up to 100 miles on a single charge although this is a best case scenario. Of course the faster you accelerate the quicker you drain the battery, but there are regenerative braking modes. As all the electric motor's torque is available from zero revs, the e-Up is impressively nippy from a standstill and is similarly strong from around 30mph.
A standard charge takes nine hours from a conventional three-pin socket, but owners are better off getting a wallbox that can be installed by British Gas (currently for free). A wallbox charge will replenish the battery from flat to 100 per cent in six hours. All the various cables required come with the car and live in a neat slot in the boot. Unlike rivals like the Renault Zoe, there's no leasing of the battery - it's all part of the final price. The battery itself is modular and has an eight year or 100,000 mile warranty.
The e-Up costs £19,250 after the government's £5000 electric vehicle grant. That's expensive compared to the rest of the Up range but it does come very well equipped as standard with a heated windscreen, DAB radio, climate control, navigation, rear parking sensors and 15-inch alloys. It will certainly appeal to those who have to travel into the central London congestion charge zone and also makes a lot of sense as a second car.
What does a Volkswagen e-Up (2014) cost?
Volkswagen e-Up (2014): What's It Like Inside?
The quality of the finish in the e-Up is exceptionally good with a durable and solid feel throughout. Yet it's still very refined and upmarket enough to justify its price tag. The design is simple yet attractive and helped by a gloss finish across the dash and on the door tops. The very light colours of the interior in our pictures won't be to everyone's taste - plus it's likely to get marked easily - but it makes a change from the usual drab black.
There are few differences between the e-Up and a standard Up which means it's very easy to get to grips with. You still get three dials in the instrument cluster but instead of a fuel gauge there's a battery meter while the rev counter is replaced by a power gauge. The only other change - aside from the automatic gear lever - is blue stitching on the leather steering wheel and gear lever.
As standard the e-Up comes with Volkswagen's Maps & More portable sat nav system which also includes a media player, Bluetooth and vehicle information displays. The five-inch touchsreen is easy to use and sits neatly on top of the dash integrating with the car's on board system. The e-Up gets extra displays showing things like power flow, range on a map and where your nearest charging station is. Cleverly you can also preset the vehicle charging, for instance if you want to start charging overnight rather than the day, plus pre-programme the climate control to come on at set times.
The lithium-ion batteries are neatly integrated into the floor of the Up, just in front of the rear axle, so there's no impact on interior space. The e-Up is the same size as the standard Up at just 3.5 metres long yet it fees far more spacious inside with plenty of legroom and good elbow room. Two adults can fit in the back and it's reasonably comfortable although you wouldn't want to spend too long back there.
The boot is only one-litre smaller than a conventional Up at 250 litres and there's a clever slot where to store all the charging cables, which are kept in a neat bag. You can fold down the back seats for extra space and it's quite a surprise just how much you can fit in the diminutive Up. It also has the double level boot floor but there's no spare wheel or the space for one. Instead there's a semi-circular space where a mobility kit is stored.
Safety and security
• ABS with HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assist), ESP, ASR (Traction Control) and engine drag torque regulation
• driver’s and front passenger’s airbags
• driver’s and front passenger’s combined side head and side thorax airbag system
• electronic engine immobiliser
• warning buzzer and light for front and rear seat belts if unfastened
• City Emergency Braking
Comfort and convenience
• instrument cluster with e-vehicle information
• Maps & More navigation and infotainment portable device including Bluetooth, with 5” colour screen multifunction computer, pre-loaded European navigation data, micro SD card reader, media player, picture viewer, MP3 and WMA data files compatibility
• RCD 215 radio / MP3 compatible CD player with six speakers, AUX-in socket and DAB
• Car-Net online mobile services with three year subscription
• ‘Climatronic’ air conditioning
• cruise control
• rear parking sensors
• driver’s seat height adjustment
• remote central locking with folding key
Comfort and convenience cont’d
• height adjustable steering wheel; power assisted steering
• electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors; electric front windows
• heated front seats; heated windscreen
• split folding rear seat backrest 60:40
• variable boot floor
• Isofix child seat preparation
• 12 V socket in centre console
• socket AC Type 2 (3.3kW)
• charging cable Mode 2 (10A) and AC Mode 3
• alloy wheels, 5½J x 15 ‘Tezzle’ with 165/55 R15 tyres and anti-theft wheel bolts; tyre mobility kit
• body-coloured door mirrors, door handles and bumpers
• heat insulating green tinted glass
• LED daytime running lights
• ‘Pure White’ upper dashboard facia (alternatively body-coloured dashboard available with selected exterior colour)
• ‘Chrome effect’ interior door handles, handbrake grip button, speedo surround and light and heating switches
• leather-trimmed gear knob, handbrake grip and three-spoke steering wheel with ‘Gloss Black’ insert and blue stitching
• ‘Grid’ cloth upholstery
Child seats that fit a Volkswagen e-Up (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Volkswagen e-Up (2014) like to drive?
If you've not driven an electric car or a hybrid before then moving away in near in silence as you do in the e-Up is quite a novelty. The only accompaniment is a slight whir from the electric motor. But forget for one minute that this is an electric car designed for efficiency and you'll realise that it's actually the quickest Up in the range, accelerating from 0-62mph in just 12.4 seconds.
More crucial for a small car like this designed for urban driving is the 0-37mph time, which is just 4.9 seconds. That's because the 210Nm of torque is available from a standstill up to 2800rpm, so it's rapid away from the lights and ideal for nipping in and out of busy traffic. The e-Up isn't a one trick pony though and the performance continues to impress the faster you go. It's also quick from 30mph and 40mph, with instant throttle response.
On the motorway it will happily keep up with fast flowing traffic and thanks to the low noise levels and impressive refinement it's very relaxing to travel in. It certainly feels like a bigger car than it is with good stability and little wind or road noise. In town the tight turning circle makes it a doddle to slot into small spaces.
The e-Up is heavier than a standard Up due to the battery and weighs around 200kg more. However, as the battery is located in the floor, it means a lower centre of gravity. As a result the e-Up handles and rides just as well as as any other Up. It has lovely responsive steering which is well weighted but still light for parking and this combined with the nippy performance makes the e-Up huge fun to drive. It also rides very well with no rattles or squeaks when you hit potholes.
It's also easy to drive thanks to the single-speed gearbox - this is different from the semi-automatic ASG gearbox that's available on petrol Up models. It's integrated as part of the electric motor so you just put it in D and off you go. Alongside from the usual park, reverse and neutral modes there are also several regenerative braking modes - four to be precise.
It does seem over complex but the idea is that they offer differing levels of regenerative braking. B is the maximum setting so when you come off the accelerator the car slows down as if you're on the brakes. It's strange at first but you can quickly get used to it and adapt your driving accordingly. Ultimately you can almost drive the e-Up using just one pedal.
The maximum range of the e-Up is 100 miles but obviously this is a best case scenario. Lots of hard accelerating and having the air con on maximum will soon see this drop. But on a day of mixed driving and without trying to be particularly economical we managed 75 miles on a single charge.
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