Why a Tesla Model 3 owner buys a used VW Up: Initial ownership review

It has done about 48,900 km in the last 10 years & has always been maintained at a VW dealer with all maintenance history known.

BHPian carthick1000 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

What’s Up!

Usually, I am excited to write about new technologies or new products in the mobility sector. But here I am excited to share, how a small car got added to our 1 car, 2 bicycle fleet. Small nifty cars have always had a soft corner in my books. This time around, when the need came, I jumped at the chance to get such a dinky little car. What initially started as ‘Let us get a Fiat 500’ eventually lead to another car due to seating space constraints and positive feedback from friends. Hereby I would like to introduce you all to our new (used) 2012 Volkswagen Up!

Why Up!?

Me and my wife managed to share our Tesla Model 3 for the last couple of years, but with our daughter growing up and taking her around and running errands a second car became a necessity. So we decided to buy a small used car, which has relatively low mileage and a good service history. In the European market, esp. here in the Netherlands, small cars are like the bread and butter segment for most manufacturers (at least until a few years ago, when crossovers became the new bread and butter). So there are a lot of (used) options around. But when you are 6’3″ tall, there are only a very few in which you can sit comfortably.

The following are the ones in which I can sit comfortably:

  • VW Up! Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. Basically, they all are the same except with different front and rear looks.
  • Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto. They are too siblings but with much more changes than the VW group cars.

We had an i10 in the past and hence decided this time around to take the VW route. Me and my wife liked the design of Up! rather than its Skoda and Seat brethren. Also, it got some thumbs Up! from good friends as it holds a bit more resale value compared to its siblings. Therefore the decision was made.

Which Up!

Then came the dilemma of 3-door or 5-door Up!

From a dimensions point of view, both are exactly the same. The 3-door version has slightly longer doors for ease of ingress and egress for rear passengers. This has an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantage is you can have a better view of the blind spot due to larger front windows, but the disadvantage is that long doors cannot open that wide at tight parking spots (eg. next to a car, wall etc.).

Since the original Up! was conceived as a 3-door variant and we both liked the 3-door for its design and better view of the blind spot, zeroed in on the 3-door version. After all, Up! in 2012, got some coveted awards like the World car of the year, Red dot design award and IF design Gold award.

Variant-wise, we picked the top variant (Entry: Take Up!, Mid: Move Up! Top: High Up!) available at that time as it came with creature comforts like Airco, cruise control, seat height adjustment, rear parking sensors, navigation and safety features like city emergency braking (yes they were all options 10 years ago!). The Up! also seemed to have scored 5 stars in the Euro NCAP rating of 2011. Though the current outgoing Up! (yes it is still in production, unlike Citigo and Mii) did only get 3 stars in the latest Euro NCAP tests. I guess the tests evolved nowadays.

What’s Up!?

Though the car was introduced as a production model Up! in 2011, its original design concept was launched way back in 2007 IAA, Germany:

And in 2007 Tokyo motor show as an MPV concept Space Up!

This was followed up by a few different iterations in 2009:

E-Up (Electric)

Up Lite (Hybrid)

(IMHO, Up lite looks like a cross between Polestar 3 and VW ID4. I think VW design engineers were almost predicting the future in 2009.)

Alongside the production Up! launch in 2011, there were a few off-beat concepts shown in IAA (Designers too should have fun. Right?):

Buggy Up!

Azzura sailing team Up!

Design, packaging & powertrain

I think the design is ageing well and even after a decade, it looks fresh and modern. The designers did a wonderful job of maximising the interior space by moving the wheels to the extreme corners of the car, reducing overhangs and maximising the wheelbase. This is the only car with the longest wheelbase in its segment but not necessarily the longest. It is almost the same size as a Fiat 500 or a Suzuki Celerio, but with its boxy design has better utilization of space overall. The engine bay is so compact which helps maximise the cabin space inside.

The model we bought has a 1L 3-cylinder naturally aspirated unit which produces 60bhp and is mated to a 5-speed gearbox. Though there are newer versions with higher power output with TSI engines, I wished to keep things simple considering the use case of local commutes only. Hence the choice to go basic on the powertrain (No turbos, no automatics).

The designers thought that it is such a small car (and of course to save cost ), you don’t need to have an extra window open/close buttons on the driver door. Just one has to extend arms and reach the passenger door button.

The instrument cluster is spartan with a speedometer, tachometer, fuel gauge and a dual line MID. All the frequently used controls have physical buttons. This is as analog as it gets when compared to our Tesla Model 3. When I drive this Up!, it feels a bit like a digital detox.

The trunk has a dual height (adjustable) floor and it can comfortably fit 1 large and 1~2 small cargo trolley bags (or 4 beer crates!). The rear seats have a top tether (handy for our daughter’s child seat mounting) at the back and a 60:40 split. There are 4 cup holders! 1 at the front and 1 at the rear of center console, 1 each on the far side of the rear seats. I am more than happy with these storage features, It is all that a small family can think of.

Handling and vehicle dynamics

The suspension system is very basic and small car-like. McPherson struts at the front and torsion beam at the rear. Though a compact little car, due to its longer wheelbase and wider track (longer and wider are relative terms for this segment), drives pretty stable at highway speeds. The car weighs only about 840kg, but still feels planted enough for the Dutch highways (Have to see how it fares on stormy days). I think this has to do with the wider track relative to the wheelbase. The suspension is adequately soft but does not roll too much in corners. The steering is lazily direct and the seating position is higher which makes it easy to get in and out. It is definitely not a corner craver but has typical VW traits of a small mature hatch. What I am impressed with is its stability at highway speeds. It feels like one class above. Also, it has superb visibility all around and manoeuvrability in small spaces is a breeze. I find it joyful to drive in a back-to-basic small car. Gives me nostalgia for the M800 which I learnt driving in.

Comparison with premium brands

  • I am positively surprised by the under-thigh support. The seating part is longer than in my Tesla model 3!
  • Has a similar torsion beam suspension like Mercedes A class and CLAs
  • Has a similar drum brake setup for rear wheels like an Audi Q4 Etron
  • Spacious boot space than a Porsche 911. But unfortunately no frunk like 911 or Model 3.

So far & going forward

This example we bought has done about 48900km in the last 10 years and it is always maintained at a VW dealer with all maintenance history known. We bought it from a used car seller and opted out of their service packets, as I planned to maintain the car at VW itself. So I guess I will get it serviced in the coming weeks and then won’t have to do much. Also, our planned usage is somewhere between 5000-10000km a year, which means it gets its service once a year. Combined, me and my wife have driven about 60kms in this car since we bought it a week ago. So I cannot really comment on long-term experiences. However, I am starting this thread as a long-term ownership report. Hope you enjoyed reading so far!

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