Volkswagen e-Up review


What is it?

The all-electric version of the Volkswagen Up, which is the best city car you can buy. The e-Up is also one of the three VW Group city car clones – you can buy an electric Skoda called the Citigo i-EV, or a Seat Mii Electric, sharing exactly the same powertrain.

Said powertrain is much improved since we first copped the e-Up way back in 2013. Then, it made do with an 18.8kWh battery, and a best-case scenario range of 118 miles – on the old NEDC test. Best of luck with that.

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Fast-forward to 2020 and the e-Up’s batteries are much more power-dense, and only a smidge heavier. Battery capacity has doubled, to a Mini Electric-matching 32.2kWh, and claimed range on the far less optimistic but still a bit fanciful WLTP range test is a heady 161 miles. The trendier, much pricier Honda e and Mini Electric can’t get within 20 miles of that, even with a downhill head-start. And a tailwind.

There’s only one powertrain available: an 82bhp motor driving the front wheels, and only one trim level, which makes life easier. However, if you were hoping to do without some toys and save some money, bad news. There really aren’t many toys, and the price is substantial: just over £20k all in, once the government’s £3k grant has been lopped off. You get five doors, aero-faced alloy wheels as standard, and a choice of seven colours but there really isn’t a lot to customise. You could of course take the step of customising the badge on the front, by buying the Skoda or Seat instead.

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Our choice from the range

Volkswagen60kW E-Up 36kWh 5dr Auto£24,725

What’s the verdict?

A superb gimmick-free electric car. Try this before you go for that ID3…

A cynic might dismiss the e-Up as an expensive folly. Wrong. The e-Up shows the value of progress. What was once a £25k city car with 80-odd miles of range is now barely over £20k and will easily top 120 miles in regular urban use. Maybe more. Those stats alone make it a great engineering achievement.

The fact it’s based on the unassailable king of small cars makes it an even more desirable prospect. It’s certainly a frumpier, subtler EV than a Honda e or Mini Electric or even a Renault Zoe, but there’s a huge amount to be said for VW’s ‘just a good car, but electric’ approach – it’s what made the e-Golf such a sleeper hit. It’s also kept the e-Up relevant, recommendable, and ready for a new dawn in the small car world.

The Rivals

Renault Zoe

£21,865 £34,540

Mini Electric

£10,342 £36,420

Honda e

£29,605 £38,065

Continue reading: Driving

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