Project UP! “Say Hello to my little friend…”

Say hello to my little friend” said a deranged, drug-fuelled Al Pacino in Scarface!

And that’s as irreverent and irrelevant a way as imaginable to introduce our new little friend and Road Magazine (ec0) project car, this fab little VW UP!

The UP! is replacing our Project Ecowagon VW Golf Bluemotion Sportline Estate which has served the Road Magazine family extremely well, ferrying tons of baby gear about and acting as the perfectly comfy, mileage munching and economical, 60+mpg “snooze driver” – something I am sure all dad’s out there can relate to. I’ve seen you…

Unfortunately, the nature of the hour-plus snooze drive means that plenty of miles got added to the hard working Golf, which was already quite high mileage when we bought it.

And, with a cam belt service due, set of brakes required and a couple of minor electrical issues needing attention and no desire for a huge pram-carrying boot anymore, we thought a swap was in order, rather than chuck money away servicing. Disposable society… what can I say?!

Both myself and Road Magazine designer wife, Bonnie are not die hard, but committed dub-people, so we took a trip to our local VW dealer in Norwich, the huge Robinsons Motor Group, to check out our down-sizing options in the Polo and UP! ranges.

Pretty quickly, we settled on the funky, fresh and stylish UP! – seeing the Polo as just a minimised Golf, with the same internal layout… just offering less of well, everything! (This of course meant the end to my miniature Polo WRC R project car plans, but hey ho… another day!).

The UP! we picked after a look around a few was this very cool ‘Black’ special edition. It comes loaded with a whole host of goodies, including:

* Pepped-up and re-mapped 75bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine – sounding fruity and much more lively than its 60bhp sibling. It’s capable of 105mph would you Adam & Eve it?

* Hipster-friendly, urban-freewheeling, handling-enhancing 16-inch chrome rims & very nice black pearl-effect paint, foglamps in the front bumper and chrome-capped mirrors on the outside.

* Comfy, striped, UP! logo’d heated seats, cool three-spoke, leather-clad steering wheel/gearknob/handbrake cover as well as air con, electric windows, black dash and the really cool ‘Maps and more’ touchscreen sat-nav/trip computer/eco driver computer on the inside.

All of this extra UP! Blackness cost £11,305 new, some £3,000 more than standard – which is pretty mental! But, as a secondhand purchase makes it a steal at a shade over £7,000 now, just two years young and with 28,000 miles and a FVWSH.

So, with the help of a very nice, non-pushy, knowledgable and easy-going chap (with the same taste in holiday destinations as us!) called Phil Hutson – who offered us a very fair price on the rare-spec Golf Project Ecowagon – we bought it, there and then.

In my two and a bit decades of buying cars, this is actually my first main dealer car deal. And maybe it’s just my 40+ years talking now, or I was high on the new car smell and free espressos on tap in the plush showroom, but it was the most painless, drama free and simple car purchase I’ve ever done.

“It’s a very slick operation here” Phil explained. “We shift 70+ cars a week from here, so it’s got to be. And we want people to enjoy the process, so we take all the worry out of it and make it a pleasure.” Which it really was. The process from initial chat, advise, test drive and paperwork took under an hour, and most of that was spent driving and chatting. Very easy-going indeed.

Just 24-hours later, the UP! was ready to collect – with a full service, road tax and valet thrown in. Can you ask for more than that? And our man Phil was on hand to talk us through the car, including the many fabulous functions of the nifty ‘Maps & More’ system, which is a really cool bit of kit, rather like the UP! Black as it goes. 

The extra dimensions of the retro rims and bigger rubber do give the Black extra levels of grip over a stock UP! and the design and functionality are excellent, inside and out.

It’s surprisingly comfy and nippy too – especially in the city, where it’s at its most happy finding impossible gaps and storming off roundabouts/lights. But show it a major road and it’ll easily keep up in the fast lane and knock out 50+mpg to boot, 60+ with the wife driving 🙂

It might not be as fast or as spacious as the Golf, but the Tardis-like design of the UP! and five-door practicality makes it capable of housing four adults (or three and a toddler in our case) no bother – you just need to use the gears to get up hills, like old fashioned cars!  And the Auber-deep boot is bizarrely capable of holding as much as the old Golf used to do… in shopping bag units anyhow! It’s clever, modern and best of all, fun… and it’s settled into the fleet a treat.

So, there you have it… our new Road Magazine eco car to have fun with and act to offset my gas-guzzling tendencies in the 4.2-litre, 400+bhp V8 Project Beast Range Rover!

What’s the plan, I hear you ask… well… Project UP! will most likely be treated to a few interior goodies and ICE on test, a set of more eco-friendly low resistance but grippy tyres than the current Continentals and something suitably sexy and salubrious on the outside, but that’s all we’re saying for now. Stay tuned for more…