Volkswagen Up! Unveiled Ahead of 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Volkswagen Up! Unveiled Ahead of 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • Unlike the concept, the production Up! uses a front-engine, front-wheel-drive configuration.
  • Power will come from a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine with 59 horsepower on base models or 74 hp on upgraded models.
  • Volkswagen says base models will get 56 mpg using the European consumption cycle.
  • There are still no plans for sales of the Up! in North America.

WOLFSBURG, Germany — Volkswagen has finally revealed its new entry-level model, the Up! hatchback, four years after it was first shown as a concept car at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show.

The heavily hyped entry-level model enters the German carmaker's lineup as a replacement for the aging Fox, slotting in beneath the Polo at a price Volkswagen hints will see it compete against the Citroen C1, Fiat Panda and Renault Twingo among other compact offerings in Europe.

The Up! is set to make its public premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show on September 13th and will go on sale across Europe in three-door form in December 2011. A more practical five-door version is set to follow during the second half of 2012 — at which time Volkswagen Group subsidiaries, Seat and Skoda, will also introduce their own distinctly styled versions of the Up! carrying modified front and rear styling.

In a departure from the original transverse rear-engine/rear-wheel-drive concept version of the Up!, the production version employs a more conventional transverse front-engine/front-wheel-drive layout more in keeping with the rest of the Volkswagen lineup.

Underpinning the new car is Volkswagen's new MQB platform, a modular structure that has been conceived to be used beneath a wide range of models, including replacements for the Polo, Golf and European market Passat within the next five years.

In Europe, the Up! will be sold exclusively with a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder TSI gasoline engine. New to the Volkswagen lineup, it comes in two states of tune: a base 59-hp version that is claimed to return 56 mpg on the combined European consumption cycle and a sportier 74-hp version rated at 54.6 mpg. Gearbox choices are set to include a standard five-speed manual and a new six-speed clutchless unit.

Oddly, given that the initial sales focus for the new Volkswagen is firmly on Europe, there is no diesel engine option. Instead, Volkswagen will sell the Up! with a 68-hp version of the turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine capable of running on natural gas.

Although it won't be available from the start of sales, Volkswagen has also confirmed plans for a plug-in electric version of the Up!, as previewed at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show by the Up! E-Motion concept car. It showcased a zero-emission driveline combining an 81-hp electric motor together with an 18kWh lithium-ion battery.

Conceived to be sold in many of Volkswagen existing markets, the Up! will initially be produced at an existing Volkswagen factory in Slovakia — the same site responsible for the Touareg and its sister models, the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. However, plans also exist for production in Brazil, China, India and Russia.

While there are no plans to sell the Up! in North America, Volkswagen is considering using a lengthened version of its front-wheel-drive MQB platform for a production version of the Bulli, shown as a concept car at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show back in March, tentatively due out in 2014. says: Volkswagen did a good job of bringing the Up! to market with only minimal styling changes, but the lack of diesel option is sure to limit its initial popularity.

Leave a Comment

New Car Buying Guides

See which cars and trucks our editors recommend