Volkswagen bids farewell to its beloved Up! City car after 12 years

Wolkwagen Up (carbuzz)

The end of an era for a compact and affordable runabout

Volkswagen has bid adieu to one of its most diminutive offerings, the Up! city car, marking the end of a 12-year production run. The final Up! has rolled off the production line at Volkswagen Group’s Bratislava factory in Slovakia, leaving behind a legacy as a popular and budget-friendly urban commuter.

A Pocket-Friendly Marvel
When the Volkswagen Up! was introduced, it made waves with its affordable price tag, equivalent to just over $10,000. This made it a favored choice among young drivers and individuals seeking to navigate European city streets while avoiding inner-city emissions charges. The Up! was celebrated for its lightweight design, fuel efficiency, easy maneuverability, and a touch of excitement for those who dared to experiment with trail braking and lift-off oversteer.

No direct successor
As the Up! exits the scene, Volkswagen does not have a direct successor in mind. The forthcoming Volkswagen ID.1 EV, expected within the next five years, will become Wolfsburg’s smallest and most affordable new car. However, it will be more spacious inside, akin to a Polo, leaving a void in the niche previously occupied by the Up!. Beyond that, the ID.2, another electric vehicle, is set to take over the mantle from the Golf and Golf GTI, with plans for both conventional and performance variants.

The absence of a compact and affordable lightweight car like the Up! is likely to be felt by European consumers. The Up! GTI, for instance, was a pocket rocket with 113 horsepower, delivering thrills at lower speeds. Some might even liken it to a modern-day reincarnation of the original Mk 1 Golf GTI. However, with its replacement shifting towards electric power and increased weight, the discontinuation of cars that excel at the essentials without excessive frills is a cause for reflection.

An endangered species
While the Up!’s departure may seem inconsequential to some, it underscores a broader issue—the diminishing availability of approachable and affordable lightweight cars across the automotive landscape. These vehicles, celebrated for their simplicity and affordability, are facing extinction, only to be replaced by offerings that depart significantly from their predecessors.

However, Volkswagen, known for its engineering prowess, has the potential to infuse future electric vehicles with the same fun and nimbleness that made the Up! a hit. Although traditional features like simulated gear shifts may not be part of the equation, Volkswagen’s commitment to innovation could pave the way for small EVs of the future to capture the essence of driving enjoyment. Enthusiasts and consumers alike will be watching with anticipation.