VW Up! gets refreshed – laying the Polo Vivo to rest

By Miles Downard

The VW Up! is, in my opinion, the saviour of VW’s entry level segment. The Polo Vivo is now exceptionally long in the tooth and like any long serving thoroughbred, should be walked out back and shot in the head. Figuratively speaking of course.

Since the Vivo is the best selling small hatchback there is, I can understand the company’s reluctance to let it go. But with the introduction of the Up!, VW has given itself the perfect opportunity to do so. Here’s why.

On the outside

The Up! ticks all the right boxes that its young audience is after, the biggest box of which is that it’s funky. The squared off back is ‘so-70s’, which is apparently back in fashion these days, while the wedge shape front looks clean and a bit sophisticated (in a hipster kind of way…the front bumper even has a cleanly shaped balbo beard). All very nice.

Read also: VW Tiguan: Bigger, better, more competitive than ever before

On the inside

Layout, controls etc are all very VW-ish from a look and feel point of view. Make of that what you will. Generally I find the cabin to be functional with a few nice touches that uplift what would otherwise be a bit bland.

The infotainment system on board the new up! has been completely redesigned featuring a 5-inch colour display, radio, USB, SD Card, AUX-in and Bluetooth connectivity.

The Move Up! also features a split folding rear seat which is nifty if you need to carry larger items, although the boot itself it actually quite large for a car in this segment. The car now also sports rear doors unlike when the Up! first came to South Africa. That’s a big one in my books as personally I find buyers in this segment are concerned about practicality and do actually have friends they might like to carry around every now and then. Good thing then that the Up! sports a long-ish wheelbase meaning those friends actually have some leg room.

Behind the wheel

The familiar perky three-cylinder 1.0 litre engine is still lurking beneath the bonnet. The 999 cc normally aspirated engine produces 55kW and 95 torques, most of which are available from 2,000rpm which makes drivability quite good. Zero to 100 km/h takes 13.5 seconds while it pushes on to a top speed of 173 km/h.

Overall I found the Up! to provide a smile inducing ride. It’s comfortable, something that can’t be said of all small cars these days, and given its small dimensions can be thrown about in and around traffic. Despite a good thrashing it’s quite economical too with VW claiming a combined consumption reading of under 5 litres per 100km, but you’ll more likely achieve in the 6’s.

Read also: Suzuki Celerio and Suzuki Splash – Which is for you?


The Move Up! lists at R180,400. Honestly that’s a bit more expensive than most of its competitors, like Suzuki’s Celerio or the Toyota Aygo (sometimes as much as R20,000 more). That’s a tough pill to swallow for someone with this kind of budget to play with. But VW does have a stellar reputation here in SA, so some would argue that the premium is justified. Personally I’m not so sure.


The 4 door Up! is a solid offering in the entry level market. I like the styling, like the motor and very much hope that this sees the long-in-the-tooth Polo Vivo ushered out of the door. Are there better value options out there? Yes, most certainly. Will this stop the Up! selling? Don’t bet on it.