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VW e-up!: ‘VW say you’ll get about 100 miles out of one of these on a full charge.’ Photographs: Simon Stuart-Miller for the Guardian
Ah, yes, the up! Not my exclamation mark, Volkswagen’s. Which, along with the lower-case u, added to the extreme wrongness of the last up! they sent me: a black up! Where was I supposed to go in it!? The 1970s? The Black And White Minstrel Show? One of those unreconstructed places in the West Country where the morris dancers still obstinately paint their faces black?
This time they’ve sent a white up! I’m not sure that’s much better, is it? A car for Michael Jackson, perhaps? A bit late, no? RIP.
More importantly, it’s an e-up! Eeee up, love. Maybe I should be heading for the north of England in it? Or would that be an a-up!? Anyway, it’s out of the question: this is an electric car, so the north is out of range if you live, as I do, in the south. About 100 miles, VW say, is what you’ll get out of one of these on a full charge, though that depends on what settings you have it on, how you drive it, the weather. The warmer it is, the better the battery works and the greater the range, so you are better off heading not north but south. Especially in winter, like a swallow, though Africa will require a lot of charging stops. You can do your own maths.
Maths is the issue with the e-up!, as it still is with all electric cars. Two numbers, one too small, one too large, 100 and 19,250, miles and pounds respectively, range and price. And that £19,250 is for the cheapest model after the £5,000 backhander from the government has been taken off. You can get a regular up! for less than half the price.
If you can make the maths and those numbers work for you (maybe you do an awful lot of miles, but all of them short journeys, into the London congestion zone, from your house with off-street parking), then the e-up! is a brilliant car, charming, even. It might not be funky and futuristic like a BMW i3, but it’s still a cute and stylish city car. Practical, too – bigger in than you would imagine from out.
The lithium battery adds 230kg to the weight of a regular up!, but you don’t feel it. The weight is all low down, the centre of gravity near the road. It is assured and nimble. And the immediate pick-up of the 81bhp motor more than compensates for those extra kilos. Electric cars are enormously entertaining to drive – not many people realise that – this one especially so. It’s amusing, even, like a bumper car ride but without the bumps, and quicker. Perhaps they should have called it giddy-up! Or – snappier – g-up!
Price From £19,250
Top speed 80mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 12.4 seconds
Range Up to 100 miles on a full charge
CO2 emissions 0g/km
Eco rating 9/10
Cool rating 8/10