VW's Up! plus its Seat and Skoda siblings

11 December 2011

VW Up from the front

Over the next six months or so, a trio of new city cars will roll onto UK roads, launched by separate limbs of the giant Volkswagen octopus. First to appear will be VW’s own Up! (complete with hyperactive exclamation mark), which is already available to order ahead of spring deliveries.

Sister brands Seat and Skoda will offer their Mii and Citigo versions of the same car once the VW has built up a little bit of a head start, with deliveries not scheduled until the summer of 2012.

Up, Mii and Citigo have distinct faces (and in the case of the VW a distinct windowline) but all three are clones under the skin, built on the same lines in the same Slovakian factory. They are so similar that crash-test organisation Euro NCAP isn’t going to bother running the Seat or Skoda into a wall – having inspected examples of all three cars it’s satisfied they are essentially the same vehicle inside and out, with identical safety systems. The Up’s Euro NCAP score? A full rack of five stars with an 89% rating for adults and 80% for children, making it substantially safer than the outgoing VW Fox, which managed only four stars when it was tested six years ago.

Skoda Citigo from the front

Seat Mii from the front

ABS, head/thorax airbags and side airbags will come as standard, while ESP stability assistance will be an option along with a laser-based crash avoidance system designed to hit the brakes on behalf of inattentive drivers at speeds of up to 18mph, to avoid low-speed crunches. The VW system is called City Emergency Braking and costs £400. For reasons best known to their respective marketers, the same system will be called City Safety Assist when fitted to the Seat Mii and City Safe Drive in the Skoda.

Seat Mii from the side

Initially, only three-door models will be available, but five-door variants should come on stream from the middle of next year, boosting the practicality and possibly also the 3.55m length and 2.42m wheelbase of these cars.

One area where the three differently branded cars won’t be identical is price, with the Up commanding a premium in base price (and possibly being less well equipped too) by virtue of the roundel on its nose. Only VW prices have been announced to date, starting at £7,995 on the road, but the starting point for both Citigo and Mii is expected to be no more than £7,500.

All models will get a five-speed manual transmission mated to the same engine, a modern 999cc three-cylinder petrol available in various different configurations. All three brands will offer outputs of either 60PS (59bhp) or 75PS (74bhp), which installed in the VW Up will yield official economy of either 62.7mpg or 60.1mpg, and CO2 output of 105g/km or 108g/km respectively. Top speeds will be 99mph and 106mph for the two levels of tune.

In addition, there will be a BlueMotion Technology version of the less powerful Up that will boast a regenerative alternator (charging the battery only when the car is slowing down), as well as eco tyres and stop/start to save fuel in traffic. These measures are expected to trim the CO2 figure to 97g/km, sufficient to dodge road tax and the London Congestion Charge, with combined-cycle economy of 67.2mpg.

VW Up from the side

Seat will get its own version of this greener car, badged as the Mii Ecomotive, while Skoda looks set to get two different GreenLine Citigo variants, one pegged at 97g/km and another at 99g/km. It’s not yet clear if that additional 2g/km is due to increased engine power or the addition of a power-hungry ancillary like air-conditioning, but both Citigo GreenLines will share the fiscal benefits of slipping under 100g/km.

The most basic, £7,995 Volkswagen Up is called the Take Up! and will come with the lower-power engine, body-coloured bumpers, daytime running lights, a music-player compatible stereo and 14-inch steel wheels.

Skoda Citigo from the side

Upping the ante, so to speak, to £8,970 buys the Move Up! with such modern luxuries as remote central locking, air conditioning, electric front windows, front seats that slide as well as tilt out of the way when sandwiching yourself into the back, a height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60:40 split/fold rear seats and body-coloured door mirrors and handles. That, presumably, is VW’s version of well equipped.

The BlueMotion edition will be based on this version, with a relatively modest £360 premium.

Stretching to £10,390 brings the higher-power engine, hence the High Up! name. Equipment up here includes heated front seats, leather trim on the wheel, heated and power-adjusted door mirrors, a removable infotainment/satnav unit, a choice of dashboard colour, front fog lights and 15-inch alloy wheels. This edition will also form the basis of two launch special editions, the Up! Black and Up! White, which cost £11,180 and boast posh paint, chrome mirror covers and 16-inch alloys, among other fripperies.

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