11 September 2007

Frankfurt show: VW on the Up!

New city car concept is a back-to-basics genuine people's car

Volkswagen up!

If you needed any more convincing that small is cool at Frankfurt this year, this is it - Volkswagen's Up! city car concept.

When details were leaked a few weeks before the show, voices everywhere were claiming it was the 'real' new Beetle. And in every way that matters, it is.

Forget the contrived throwback styling and think genuine people's car - tiny, affordable and likeable transport that will appeal to the masses.

It's versatile, too. All the seats pop out (apart from the driver's) and feature inflatable cushions that mould to the shape of each the occupants.

The engine's in the back - the only tangible similarity to the old Beetle - but this time it's more about maximising practical space for the four potential occupants.

The word so far is that the Up! will make production in late 2009/early 2010 and will likely look pretty similar to the concept shown today.

Two versions of the Up! are planned: a basic, budget version that could go on sale for as little as £5,000 and one with a more luxury spec.

In Europe, power will come from a relative of the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine currently found in Polos and small Skodas.

VW is also set to develop a new two-cylinder engine, although we expect this will predominantly be for India, China and South America.

The Up! is shorter and narrower than the VW's current city contender, the Fox, which the car will likely replace when it arrives at the end of the decade.

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