Volkswagen e-up! interior & comfort
While the VW e-up! feels well screwed together inside, the lack of a proper touchscreen infotainment system lets it down a bit
When the Volkswagen up! launched in 2012, the idea of a touchscreen infotainment system or a set of digital dials in a small city car, was little more than a daydream. However, as things have progressed and such technology has become more widely available, the e-up! has started to show its age.
It’s not that the up! feels particularly cheap inside. The material finishes are high quality and the flashes of colour on the doors give it a youthful appearance. But the crude smartphone cradle on top of the dashboard and the analogue central speedometer instantly make it feel like you’re sitting in something from 2002 rather than 2020.
Volkswagen e-up! dashboard
The e-up! may feel like a bigger, more expensive car on the road, but there’s no mistaking its small-car roots inside. We’ve become used to big, flashy touchscreens and fully digital dashboards – just look at the 3D dials in the Peugeot e-208, for example – yet in the e-up! feels a bit spartan and ill-equipped, even if it;s built to a good standard.
Equipment, options & accessories
The e-up! is a relaxing car to live with, thanks to a fairly generous standard kit list. There’s only one specification to choose from, so every car gets 15-inch alloy wheels, VW's electric-specific C-shaped LED daytime running lights, heated front seats, climate control, cruise control and a reversing camera.
That’s in addition to the basic petrol up!’s electric front windows, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The options list is pretty short – limited to a range of colours, a pair of interior trim choices, a £65 variable-height boot floor and a ‘Sharkskin’ dashboard pack. That’s your lot.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
There’s no central infotainment screen in the e-up! – instead, Volkswagen has issued every model with a smartphone cradle on top of the dashboard, which allows you to use your mobile phone for calls, mapping and music streaming.
The thing is, unless you’ve got one of the latest, super-size iPhones, you’ll find yourself squinting at the screen to execute even basic functions. There’s a USB port handily positioned behind the mount, however, making it easy to charge your handheld device.
Below the cradle you’ll find a small digital colour display that allows you to control things like the radio station and Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s not very intuitive to use – and frankly it’s little better than the old dot-matrix displays found in city cars and superminis from two decades ago.
Volkswagen offers e-up! drivers a 'WeConnect' smartphone app to help monitor charging progress. This also incorporates pre-cooling and pre-heating function, allowing you to set the cabin temperature remotely before you get in the car.
In This Review
- 1VerdictThe Volkswagen e-up! electric city car was given a midlife nip-and-tuck in 2020, including a bigger battery that helped to substantially improve its range
- 2Range, battery & chargingThe latest Volkswagen e-up! has much longer range than its predecessor thanks to a more energy-dense battery, making it a more usable electric car than before
- 3Running costsThe Volkswagen e-up! is small, light and very cheap to run, so switching from an equivalent petrol-engined car could save you thousands
- 4Electric motor, drive & performanceThe Volkswagen e-up! can’t compete with the fastest electric cars, but it’s a strong performer given its diminutive size and intended use
- 5Interior & comfort - currently readingWhile the VW e-up! feels well screwed together inside, the lack of a proper touchscreen infotainment system lets it down a bit
- 6Practicality & boot spaceThe VW e-up! is a small car, but thankfully it differs little from the cleverly packaged petrol-engined model when it comes to practicality and boot space
- 7Reliability & safetyThe Volkswagen e-up! is based on a design that's nearly a decade old, which means it’s not as safe as more modern electric vehicles. Reliability should be good, though.