Volkswagen e-Up! our review

Volkswagen e-Up! our review
After reviewing the small subcompact of the Wolfsburg house, the full-electric version (e-Up!) Was proposed to us in its second iteration. We had announced the significant increase in battery capacity, an update that made it possible to recommend the purely electric version to a wider and, probably, interested audience.

There are differences between the version equipped with the famous three-cylinder VW and the new electric generation? The answer as often requires clarifications that go beyond the simple yes or no.

Interior and exterior

In a sector in which launching an electric car means putting credibility into play Volkswagen has chosen the safer route, which is to change traditionally fossil fuel-powered models into fully electric cars. First the Golf, then Up !, the best-selling representatives of the German manufacturer's range adorned themselves with the prefix "e" to indicate the brand's newfound mission of decarbonisation.

In contrast to the choice of other brands, which have so far preferred to launch electric models that definitely diverge from the rest of the range in terms of shapes and typical customer, the image of a consolidated car like Golf or the practicality of a small car as popular as Up! they give a feeling of familiarity to the potential customer who is increasingly undecided on the type of diet to choose.

E-Up! is, in effect, an Up! to which the propulsion system has been replaced, almost as if it were an artisan modification carried out by a workshop that engages in alternative restomods. The only details that betray the appearance of a petrol-powered car are the inserts of the typical "ecological blue" along the tailgate and inside the brand and some plates that read "e-Up!", Distributed on the four sides of the car.

I think this choice is a good thing, given that the modern design of the Volkswagen range has nothing to envy the more “exotic” concepts of the same manufacturer.

Driving experiences

“But it is an electric car, it will weigh two tons” is a position, sometimes valid, that characterizes the electric mobility of the present. To reinforce this opinion is the fact that many cars in this category present, when compared with their traditional counterparts, an unavoidable weight difference. Battery-powered utilities can weigh as much as a mid-size diesel-powered SUV, a detail that often discourages those considering purchasing such technology.

The good news is that e-Up! net of the petrol version, it could be defined as a “featherweight” for the category in which it is made. Stopping the pointer at 1230 kg, the Volkswagen small car is positioned on a par with the heavier endothermic small cars. Driving an electric car with a relatively low weight is an enlightening experience for a potential buyer, the low center of gravity, the torque available at the minimum pressure of the accelerator, the regenerative braking, all the features that make electric driving enjoyable are almost amplified.

The electric version has excellent stability in the urban jungle and among the countless roundabouts that connect town and town. The suspension setting is however devoted to comfort and maximum absorption of road imperfections, a detail revealed by the roll that makes itself felt at the first hint of a faster steering than usual, without ever alienating the driver from what happens between tires and asphalt. Even at motorway speeds the car does not break down, especially in the presence of strong lateral interference due to the passage of vehicles of much larger dimensions.

Is it a sports car? definitely not, it doesn't want to be and it can't be, but it shares several characteristics that make small sports cars so attractive. The 82 horsepower is overshadowed by the 215 Nm of torque that the electric motor is capable of generating. Of course, there are no gears and the engaging sound of the internal combustion engine is missing, but the dynamics of acceleration and braking, also thanks to the important regenerative capacity, are present and are felt in any driving condition.

Arrange that reactivity opens a range of new possibilities to the user. Avoiding a red light, completing an insertion, overtaking safely are few of the situations in which an electric car shows its strengths, separating itself from the homonymous fuel-driven car.

Passing from driving dynamics to the “static” part, the soundproofing of the passenger compartment is equal to that of the traditional version. However, the performances disappoint, thanks to the silence of the propulsion method. Having tried both versions, you can see the inexorable rustle of the rear-view mirrors, as well as the creaking that accompanies every slightest disturbance of the road surface.

In daily driving, the background ticking can annoy those who are easily distracted while driving , while it totally fades into the background when the car radio is turned on.

Some details

Why did I mention a “car radio”? Use this now obsolete term to describe the technological core of the interior of Up! (also of the "normal" version) is perhaps a stretch, but it is not entirely wrong.

To all intents and purposes, the "infotaiment system" of e-Up! it is non-existent, replaced only by a car stereo and a Bluetooth connection interface for mobile devices, nothing more. This frugal approach by Volkswagen is a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it reduces complexity, facilitates use and minimizes the number of components, as well as the production cost and overall weight. The prerequisite for this solution is that the driver has a smartphone, in most cases light years from any integrated infotainment system. On the other hand, it relies on a component external to the car, dependent on the driver. If for any reason the connection between the car radio and the device does not occur, the driver would be forced to use a "stupid" system (meaning lacking in autonomy).

The good news this time is due to the execution of this concept. The physical support that houses the smartphone has been developed to ensure a certain ease of use, also allowing complete removal at the driver's discretion. The car radio interface has a few buttons and potentiometers that facilitate navigation in the menus and in the various modes. The display of multimedia information on the supplied screen allows you to keep the navigation application in full screen on your phone, or the Volkswagen companion app to keep an eye on the "vital parameters" of the car.

Passing to the most “electrifying” section, e-Up! it is equipped with a 36.8 kWh battery pack, installed between the front and rear axle. The electric motor is positioned at the front while maintaining the original configuration of the car. The choice of not using the compartment located under the boot, which maintains the original function of extending in depth the little space that separates the shelf from the parcel shelf, is curious. I would have expected to find a part of the cooling system or an extension of the main battery there, in order to redistribute the weight more equally.

E-Up! it has three driving modes: normal, eco and eco +. In the first mode, the power available to the driver is maximum and the car responds to accelerator input, putting efficiency aside. The two “eco” modes limit the maximum speed to 110 and 90 km / h respectively. It's not just the speed that changes, the car's behavior is also slowed down to conserve energy. In "eco" it is necessary to press the accelerator vigorously to make a sudden start, while in eco + the very concept of a sudden start is put aside, as well as comforts such as air conditioning, in the name of maximum autonomy. br>
During the test period I noticed a bug in the management of the "eco +" mode. Basically the speed should be limited to 90Km / h, which would prevent e-Up! to travel safely on the motorway. However, by selecting the mode in question from the corresponding button and resume the cruise control (previously configured for a value higher than the limit of this mode), the car safely reaches the maximum selected, "forgetting" the artificial limit set by "eco +". Unfortunately, it is not known in detail on which values ​​this modality acts, so a direct comparison at motorway speed would be futile. The real difference between the modes is obviously the lack of air conditioning, which lowers fuel consumption from 135 Wh / Km to about 110-120 Wh / Km once the temperature selected by the driver is reached. On short journeys this parameter does not directly affect the autonomy of the car while for distances close to the maximum autonomy it acts significantly. At motorway speeds the range decreases from about 260-270 km to about 200 km, depending on the characteristics of the route and the presence of traffic. In an urban context, the range mentioned by Volkswagen is even conservative. I managed to overcome 270 km with one charge while driving between villages in the Milanese hinterland, confirming in excess the official autonomy.

As for the e-Up! has a Combo CCS socket that allows powering both direct and alternating current. The supplied 2.3 kW charger makes the fateful overnight recharge possible, assuming that returning home the previous day will start uninterrupted recharging until 07:00 the next day. In any case, with a 20% battery percentage, the on-board computer reports a recharge time of 10 hours and 30 minutes, which drops dramatically if a wallbox is available. If the intent is to recharge as quickly as possible, a type 2 door is available for direct current (at maximum 40 Kw).

Opening a parenthesis on autonomy, I can only criticize Volkswagen's choice to use halogen bulbs for the e-Up! The choice is understandable on the petrol model, where cost reduction is the key word, but on the electric version it is in bad taste in "light" of the measured running efficiency. Fortunately, replacing these bulbs with LED counterparts is an easy modification, given the popularity of the latter among the owners and owners of e-Up !.

The conclusions

E-Up! represents one of the best choices for those looking for a small car without giving up the benefits of power supply. With a starting price of 21,000 euros pre-incentives, it remains one of the cheapest electric cars on the market, monopolizing the niche within the largest electric car sector. E-Up! manages to reconcile the positive aspects of Up! with electric mobility, effectively mitigating the cons arising from the adoption of this type of technology.

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