Volkswagen e-Up! Review (Full Review + Test Drive Videos)
A UK price of £19,250 (about $31,540) for the Volkswagen e-Up! has just been announced, and my second video from my second test drive of the Volkswagen e-Up! is nearly published, so I think now is a good time to write up my full review of Volkswagen’s first 100% electric car.
I’ll lift a bit from my Nissan Leaf–Volkswagen e-Up!–BMW i3 comparison in the “Driving The Volkswagen e-Up!” section, but the rest is new.
One-Line Volkswagen e-Up! Review
The Volkswagen e-Up! is a quality electric vehicle with a lot of freedom in the regenerative braking realm, great pickup, a comfortable interior, and a very smooth ride.
Driving The Volkswagen e-Up!
The VW e-Up!, only available in Europe at the moment, drives very similar to the Nissan Leaf. After two short test drives of each, I can’t say that I noticed much of a difference between the two in the driving quality.
The interior of the e-Up! was a bit simpler than that of the Leaf. It certainly wasn’t at the level of the BMW i3 (which costs about 150% what the e-Up! costs), but it was comfortable. Similar to the Leaf, the dashboard area also had some interesting visualizations and charge/range information, but it was all a bit simpler than what the Leaf offered. There also seemed to be a bit less space in the front as well as the back seats, but I’d really have to spend a little more time with the cars to see if I really noticed that in day-to-day use.
Some of the plastics in the interior struck me as seeming a bit “cheap.” But this is the case in many cars nowadays.
I think the e-Up! looks very sharp on the outside. That struck me right away when I saw several getting ready for test rides around Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf the day before EXPOtest Electric kicked off. It’s no Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric, but I think it looks great and gets people’s heads to turn. (Given how subjective such matters are, though, I do await strong disagreement from some of you.)
One very unique thing about the eUp! is the number of braking modes it has. It has 4 regenerative braking options (compared to the Leaf’s 2 to 3 and the BMW i3′s one) — Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level B. It’s very nice to have so much variation here. In my second test drive of the vehicle, I started getting used to the various options a bit, and I definitely appreciated having a lot of options and freedom there for different driving situations and preferences. You can check out my reaction and the reaction of another test driver I filmed in the two videos below. As you can see in the second one, the various braking options are especially nice to have when descending hills with different levels of steepness.
In addition to the multiple braking options, the VW e-Up! has three driving modes — normal, eco, and eco plus. As you’d expect, each step along that path reduces power used by the car.
As with nearly every electric car I’ve driven, the VW e-Up! is extremely smooth to drive, the car accelerates quickly but quietly, there is a low center of gravity thanks to the batteries in the bottom-center of the vehicle, and the overall quality of the drive beats the heck out of any gasmobile I remember driving.
As Jim Holder of UK’s Autocar elegantly writes:
As ever, it is the on-the-move experience that sets an electric car apart. The silent progress is broken only by road noise and the instant torque is a revelation that does much to put the 12.4sec 0-62mph time to the back of your mind. As a result, the VW e-Up is a car that feels swift and special, so long as you are willing to reset your established values.
VW e-Up! Price
As noted above, the base price of the VW e-Up! in the UK is £24,250 (about $39,730) before the £5,000 UK electric vehicle grant of. In Germany, it sells for €26,900 (about $36,510), but Germany doesn’t have an electric vehicle grant or tax rebate. There’s no word yet on how much the e-Up! will sell for in the US.
You can find more pricing details here. (Though, I actually wasn’t able to download the full pricing brochure.)
For comparison, $39,000 is at the higher end of the US price spectrum for electric cars (but we can’t assume the e-Up! is going to sell for $39,000 in the US):
- Chevy Spark EV ($27,495)
- Nissan Leaf ($28,800)
- Ford C-Max Energi ($32,950)
- Chevy Volt ($34,995)
- Ford Focus Electric ($37,995)
- Ford Fusion Energi ($38,700)
- Toyota Prius PHEV ($39,525)
- Honda Accord PHEV ($39,780)
- BMW i3 ($42,275)
VW e-Up! Facts
Here are some key stats on the e-Up!, according to VW:
- uses just 11.7 kWh per 100 kilometers (~62 miles).
- range = 93 miles
- 18.7 kwh lithium ion battery pack, weighing 230 kg
- max output = 60 kW
- 210Nm of instant torque
- 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 12.4 seconds
And here are some of the things the e-Up! includes by default:
- Electronic climate control
- LED daytime running lights
- Blue chrome Roundel
- 15″ Tezzle Alloy wheels
- Heated front windscreen
- Heated seats (that’s an add-on in the BMW i3 and other EVs)
- 3 year On-line Mobile Services (Car Net)
- Maps & touchscreen navigation/radio infotainment device
You can find more details (on the UK e-Up!) here.
I look forward to getting a hold of one of these cars for a longer period of time to test it out more thoroughly. But, as of now, it’s comparable to the Nissan Leaf for me. Given the Leaf’s lower price and the BMW i3‘s higher quality, I think I’d go with one of those over the e-Up! if I had to choose based on my experiences and knowledge so far.