It’s been Volkswagen’s smallest car and entry-level product to its range for more than a decade, yet never sacrificing what this German firm is known for – principally quality and desirability.
But all good things must come to an end, which is why Volkswagen recently took the Up! off sale ahead of production finishing by the end of 2023. While there’s still about time to buy a pre-registered model, we’re going to take a look back at the history of this brilliant city car.
2007 – Up! concept car
It was all the way back in 2007 that we saw the first glimpse of the Up! with a concept car. Boasting a fun design with a curved profile and large glass rear section, the show car was just 3.45m long and rear-engined, the latter being a nod to the original Beetle.
Volkswagen also said it was capable of carrying four adults thanks to the innovative packaging – something that was carried onto the production car.
2011 – Up! production car revealed
It was at 2011’s Frankfurt Motor Show that the production Up! would be revealed. Growing only marginally in size compared to the concept car and carrying over many other cues – other than the rear-engined layout being abandoned – it gathered lots of attention at the time.
It was offered with small petrol engines and one clear innovation was the fact the Up! was the first car in its class to feature autonomous emergency braking, a feature that is now commonplace. The first cars would arrive in dealers in 2012, priced from just £7,995!
2012 – Introduction of five-door Up! and automatic gearbox
The Up! was initially only sold as a three-door, but to maximise practicality, a five-door version was launched later in 2012, and cost only around £400 more.
In the same year, Volkswagen introduced Black and White Up! special editions, while an automatic gearbox was also launched at a similar time.
2013 – Electric Volkswagen e-Up! launched
The e-Up! will always be an important car to Volkswagen as it was its first electric production car when it was revealed in 2013.
Well ahead of its time, it was no less roomy inside than petrol models, though was slightly compromised at the time by featuring only a small 18.7kWh battery, which would only allow for a 93-mile claimed range.
2016 – Facelifted Up! introduced
By 2016 Volkswagen was introducing a facelifted version of its Up!. Key changes included a new bumper and revised grille and bonnet, while LED daytime running lights helped to modernise this city car’s styling.
Other changes included a new steering wheel and a Beats version that brought a seven-speed sound system from the firm, while an 89bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine also joined the range.
2017 – Sporty Up! GTI launched
If you like hot hatches, it was a good day when the Up! GTi was revealed in 2017. Aiming to carry over much of the DNA from the original Golf GTI, it proved to be a hoot to drive, despite a fairly modest 113bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
It carried over many GTI traits, including tartan-upholstered seats and a range of red styling elements. The Up! GTI continues to be a popular used buy, with values remaining strong.
2020 – Updated e-Up! brings longer range
The e-Up! Received a significant upgrade in 2020 courtesy of a significantly larger 32.3kWh battery – almost double the size of the original car.
It brought a significant update to the range, with Volkswagen claiming up to 159 miles, along with a generous specification that included heated front seats and a reversing camera. A sportier-looking R-Line trim was also introduced to the Up! in 2020.
2023 – End of the road
The Volkswagen Up! continued to march on even into 2023, and though sales slowed, a good number of buyers still chose this VW over many of its city car rivals.
Volkswagen stopped orders for the Up! In October 2023, though production is set to continue until the end of the year. If you’re quick, you might be able to get your hands on a pre-registered example.