Still climbing: 2017 VW Move up! scores more doors

Intro: Gender stereotyping is a pain. It gets things right only 90 percent of the time, so if you fall into the other ten p.c. please consider yourself at home. Menfolk may start with the next paragraph because it’s full of numbers and interesting detail. Women can safely skip over it and begin with the one after.

Differences between the previous range of up! and those available since this past November, are minor. The new cars weigh one kilogram less, take three-tenths of a second longer to reach 100 km/h from standstill, go two km/h faster, churn out two grams-per-km less carbon dioxide and use, theoretically, 100 ml less fuel to travel 100 kilometres. It’s probably all thanks to a microscopic change in gearing and it’s doubtful that you’ll notice. There are also two new models: up! Beats is aimed at music lovers and Cross up! is for adventure fans. It stands 18 mm higher off the ground.
Cosmetically there are LED running lights, a redesigned front bumper with new trim strips, and a more contoured bonnet. The wheels are new, as are the wing mirrors with integrated indicators. At the back, tail lights and diffuser have been restyled. On the inside, there are printed deco panels (our test car had faux carbon fibre) and optional mood lighting. From Move level upward, a leather covered gear knob and multifunction steering wheel are standard.

What’s important, however, is that up! has grown a pair – of doors that is. Mums can now drop the heirs off at school or playgroup without having to exit from the vehicle and parents of tinies can get to the baby chair, or chairs, much more easily. There are two pairs of ISOFix anchoring points and top tethers if needed. No babies in the front please: The passenger side airbag cannot be disengaged and there are no fixing points.
A minor grumble concerns the courtesy light that’s localised toward the front seat. I met a baby equipment rental person after dark at King Shaka International (collecting a mother and child flying in from overseas) and we finally got the hired chair fitted by cellphone glow, because there was insufficient light otherwise. It would help if the lamp was centralised or a second one fitted at the rear.

Detail: Still in the back, there’s plenty of head- and foot space but knee room for tall people sitting behind lofty front seat occupants is a bit tight. Because up! is a small car, there is no way of seating three in the back, so only two head restraints and a pair of belts are fitted. The 60:40-split backrests fold completely flat once the headrests have been lifted. Doing so extends the split-level loadspace from 251 litres to 959. On this and entry-level Take up!, the spare is a fully sized (165/70 R14) steel wheel while up! Beats has a mobility kit (pump and sealant) and Cross up! uses a spacesaver. The car is fairly basic, with simple controls, although all versions boast ABS, anti-spin regulation, ESP and four airbags.
Options: A Driver Pack at R4250 adds cruise control, rear parking distance alarms and a multifunction display. If you cannot live without warmed seats and front fog lamps, a Winter Pack at R2500 provides them. A cell phone docking station at R5700 permits hands-free use and satnav (provided it’s installed on the phone), but I’d rather spend half that on a separate GPS unit that includes Bluetooth anyway. Move up! has steel wheels with plastic trims so the optional, multi-spoke 15” alloys at R3100 are a no-brainer.
Surprise: Possibly the biggest one is that the 999 cc unblown triple, developing “only” 55 kilowatts and 95 Nm, is such a wide-awake little unit. If you weren’t told beforehand, you might easily suspect that it’s turbocharged. It isn’t, obviously, but variable valve timing, multipoint fuel injection and clever engineering makes it pull like a carthorse from 2000 rpm up to 6000, which is just before peak power develops.

On the road: Its five-speed manual ‘box shifts easily and smoothly, it turns on a ten-cent piece (9.8 metre turning circle) and the view outward is uncluttered thanks to big side windows and a wide rear screen. A further new feature is that the back windows are no longer fixed – they hinge in front to provide a through-draft when needed.
Outro: Add the familiar VW traits of solid construction, surefootedness and German engineering and VW’s Move up! becomes a must-see for anyone seeking a practical little family car.

The Numbers: Base price: R179 900; Engine: 999 cc, three cylinder, naturally aspirated; Power: 55 kW at 6200 rpm; Torque: 95 Nm between 3000 and 4300 rpm (90 percent available between 2000 and 6000 rpm).  Zero to 100 km/h: 13.5 seconds; Maximum speed: 173 km/h; Real life fuel consumption: About 5.6 l/100 km; Tank: 35 litres; Luggage: 251 – 959 litres; Warranty: 3 years / 120 000 km; Service intervals: 15 000 km; 3- and 5-year service plans and maintenance contracts available optionally.

Text by Gordon Hall; Pics by Quickpic

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Test car from VWSA press fleet
NB: The Waffle wheels shown are optional