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First Drive: Volkswagen e-up!

Both will be propelled by a similar electric motor, driving the front wheels, and a Lithium-ion battery pack. This battery pack is built into the floor between the two rear wheels, partly under the back seat, so it makes a minimal intrusion into the load space. The e-up! motor develops 82bhp, giving the e-up a top speed of 80mph.

A great deal of technology has been developed to ensure that the car uses energy very efficiently. Volkswagen says that it uses 11.7kWh per 62 miles, and at an average electricity price of 25.6 cents (22p), based on German prices in 2013, driving 62 miles is said to cost around €3.02 (£2.55).

Recharging from a European 230V 2.3kW supply will take around 9 hours, if the battery is completely run down. Volkswagen can supply a wall box, which will offer 3.6kW charging and can completely re-charge the battery in seven hours. Fast charging is also possible at rates up to 40kW and this can give a quick charge of up to 80% in 30 minutes.

Driving 62 miles should not be a problem either. The e-up! has a quoted NEDC range of 99 miles, although that would depend on driving style, among other factors.

Volkswagen has looked into all energy saving possibilities for the e-up! and managed to reduce aerodynamic drag by 4% compared with the take up! while reducing rolling resistance by 7%. It also gets a regenerative braking system to help extend driving range and is fitted with an air conditioning system developed for the car.

In addition to this, the car has three driving modes, ‘standard’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Eco+’. For normal short distance driving, the standard mode gives full power. ‘Eco’ reduces maximum motor power to 50kW, reduces the output of the air conditioning system and changes the accelerator pedal response. In ‘Eco+’ mode, power is limited to 40kW, the air conditioning is disabled and the accelerator pedal response is modified still further.

Then there are five different levels of regenerative braking – D, D1, D2, D3 and B. In D, the default mode, there is no regenerative braking unless the brake pedal is applied. From D1 through to B, the levels of regenerative braking are progressively increased and from D2 to B, the level of regenerative braking is sharp enough for the brake lights to be automatically triggered.

Given the high price, Volkswagen has given the e-up! a high specification, which includes a satellite navigation system programmed for e-mobility with charging stations displayed, it gets a radio/CD system, hands free phone connectivity, four doors, a heated windscreen, air conditioning, and heated seats.

Driving the e-up!, like other electric cars, could not be much simpler. It’s simply a case of switch on and go. The performance is very lively in standard mode, reaching 62mph almost a second quicker than the petrol-powered variant and of course it is very quiet. In standard mode, the car will roll after lifting off the accelerator like a normal car, switching into D1 makes a notable difference with regenerative braking able to replace braking in many cases, if you anticipate the approach to traffic lights or standing traffic. The more active regeneration modes would need some practice, but could be useful in stop-start urban traffic. It certainly made city driving as easy as possible.


Well thought out and well executed, the e-up! makes a great city car, but at a price.


Segment: City car

Type: Battery electric vehicle

Price: £17,700 (based on German price of €26,900 and including £5,000 government grant)

Fuel: N/A

Electric range: 96 miles

CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 0g/km

 Charging Port: Type 2

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John Kendall

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