The Numbers

FWD, 61kWQ, 210Nm, 11.7kWh/100km, 0-100kms in 12.4secs, 130km/h max, 1139kg

The Topgear Verdict

All the usual Up benefits, plus it's quieter, quicker and cheap to run. But expensive, and you won't get far in a day.

2013 Volkswagen e-Up

Quite by chance, while testing the new e-Up I came alongside a Renault Zoe on an urban dual carriageway. My car was covered in signwriting, so the Zoeists knew they were facing the electric Up, not the petrol one. From a steady 50 or so, we did a drag race,
and by 80km/h I was ahead. There were three of them in the Renault, but it’s

The e-Up is small and light, so it makes the most of its power; and for the same reason, it’s also gentle on energy. Run through the official economy drive cycle, it shows a theoretical 160km range, and uses fewer units (kilowatt hours, or kWh) of electricity per kilometre than any electric car.

Start with a light car, make it efficient, and you don’t need a big battery, so the weight penalty for electrification is low. The Volkswagen e-Up’s 18.7kWh battery is small enough to go below the front and rear seats, with cut-outs for everyone’s feet. So there’s no loss of space.

The position of the battery mass means the e-Up feels stable and agile. And pretty quick at urban speeds, with instant take-off and totally seamless acceleration tailing off toward motorway speed. All of which is perfectly normal for single-gear electric cars. The e-Up is a
well-developed example, with none of the little jolts when you’re trying to
start off or come to rest as gently as possible.

It will accelerate better than a petrol Up until nearly its top end (limited to 130km/h), and in practice its advantage is even wider because you never need to change down to get the full oomph. As well as the default full-power mode, there are Eco and Eco+ mode buttons, but if you switch off the aircon and go easy on the accelerator you’ll have the same
effect. Of more interest is that you can dial in four levels of regen braking using the transmission lever, which feels like downshifting on the overrun in a petrol car. It means you can make the most of thinking ahead, and often avoid the brakes altogether by harvesting energy as you slow.

The e-Up is quiet and rides really nicely. Standard kit includes electric seats and windscreen, to save the energy of heating the cabin. It costs buttons to charge overnight on a home socket, or use a special industrial charger to do the job in 30 minutes. It’s a great little town car, provided you don’t need to go beyond its practical range of
120 kilometres.

Reviewed by: Paul Horrell

Driven: November 01, 2013