What is it?
Electrification is typically a huge investment for manufacturers, and it’s why you’ll tend to notice more of them putting money into expensive electric SUVs than more run-of-the-mill hatchbacks,
There are exceptions to the rule, though, and one of the most affordable is the Volkswagen e-Up!. Launched before the brand’s big investment into bespoke electric cars, this baby EV is based on the same platform as the brand’s petrol-powered Up!, but is it still able to compete next to an increasing number of rivals?
Though the e-Up! originally launched in 2014, Volkswagen has modernised it in more recent years, not specifically with the way it looks, but predominantly with what’s underneath the surface.
It’s because the e-Up! now has a battery that’s twice as large as its predecessor, theoretically meaning it can go far further from a charge, which is important as miles certainly count in the electric car world. On the same note,Volkswagen’s added a fast-charging option to it, which means it can now use speedier rapid electric car chargers.
What’s under the bonnet?
The Volkswagen e-Up! launched originally with a tiny 16kWh battery, which severely limited its ability for those living out of town, as it would struggle to muster up more than 80 miles from a charge.
This new car, however, gets a 32.3kWh battery, which Volkswagen says will allow it to do 159 miles from a single charge. It can also rapid charge at up to 40kW, meaning a 0-80 per cent charge will take around an hour, while using a 7kW electric car charging wallbox at home, it will take around four hours.
In terms of performance, the e-Up! uses a front-mounted electric motor producing 81bhp and a generous 210Nm of torque, with 0-60mph taking 11.6 seconds, while flat out it would reach a top speed of 81mph.
What’s it like to drive?
The little e-Up!’s figures might not sound all that impressive on paper, but it really is a little bundle of joy to drive. It’s just as amusing as the standard petrol Up!, despite its increased weight, while the zippy powertrain is particularly nippy around town, yet doesn’t feel out of its depth elsewhere – accelerating quite easily up to 70mph with minimal fuss.
The steering is nicely judged too, while the ride is good too for a small car, only being unsettled by larger potholes or ruts in the road.
How does it look?
While some electric car designs can be a bit ‘in your face’, the e-Up! is far more reserved, and we admire its undercover styling. Aside from its badging and cool wraparound LED daytime running lights at the front, there’s pretty much nothing to set it apart from the standard car.
Its dinky proportions also make it ideal for around town, where it’s a doddle to park. So while perhaps not as smart to look at as an electric Fiat 500, the e-Up!’s more subtle approach will be one welcomed by many.
What’s it like inside?
Reflecting the fact the e-Up! sits at the more affordable end of the EV spectrum, its interior isn’t brimmed with the latest and greatest of technology. In fact, there isn’t even a touchscreen, just a cradle for you to connect your smartphone into. It feels positively uncluttered, though, with all displays and dials easily to read.
Unlike rivals from Fiat and Mini, the e-Up! comes with five doors as standard, while considering this VW’s tiny size, there’s more room in it than you might expect – adults (presuming they’re not too tall) can sit in the back, while the boot is a decent size for a city car too.
What’s the spec like?
Though the e-Up! might be small, it’s kitted out with plenty of features as standard. Highlights include heated front seats, a reversing camera and climate control, while you also get a useful heated windscreen, LED daytime running lights and eye-catching 15-inch alloy wheels.
In terms of pricing, the e-Up! is among one of the most affordable ways of getting behind the wheel of a new EV, with its £22,585 starting price (inclusive of the plug-in car grant) representing great value for money.
The Volkswagen e-Up! might not have the tech-laden interior and huge range that some expect from their EV, but its simple, fuss-free and affordable nature puts it among one of the best small electric cars on the market.
Yet it still offers a decent range, plenty of standard equipment and importantly a fun and nippy driving experience.