Volkswagen Up! review Ireland

Volkswagen Up! 1.0-litre TSI Review

When I drove the Volkswagen Up! for the first time back in 2015, it gave me something of an epiphany -  horsepower is not always an indicative factor of how much fun a car will be. The Up!’s small 75hp 1.0-litre petrol engine gave me more smiles per mile than some cars with twice or even three times the power. And far from being a budget tin can with an engine, the Up! was comfortable with dare I say it…’big car feel’.

Now for 2017, Volkswagen has sprinkled a little bit of fairy dust over the Up! city car range. There are some mild styling tweaks, including new bumpers, new LED daytime running lights, revised radiator grille and bonnet, new alloy wheel designs and new colours like the Honey Yellow of my test car.

Inside the dashboard has been revised and the instrument dials now look more modern. Volkswagen’s ‘Composition’ media system is standard (3.1” monochrome display), along with digital radio, CD player, electric front windows and remote central locking.

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
The interior of the Volkswagen Up!

Higher trims come with the ‘Composition Colour’ system as standard, a 5” colour display screen that uses Bluetooth connectivity for audio.  You can download Volkswagen’s ‘Maps + More’ app and use the docking station above the dash to access navigation, speakerphone, trip computer and other features from your smartphone.

There is space for four in the cabin, and the square shape of the car maximises interior space well for a car with such a compact footprint. The boot is narrow but deep (251 litres) and the rear seats can be let down for more cargo space. The pop-out windows in the back are a little disappointing, as many city cars are now moving towards having proper windows that can be rolled down manually or electrically.

Volkswagen has also used the 2017 update to add a new engine to the Up! range. Joining the non-turbo 1.0-litre with 60 or 75hp, is a new 1.0-litre TSI turbo petrol unit. The new engine is the performance star of the range with 90hp, 160Nm of torque and 0-100kmh achieved in 9.9 seconds (the first Up! to pass the sub-10 second barrier!).

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
Volkswagen has added a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine to the Up! range

On the road, the addition of the turbo is instantly apparent. The in-gear acceleration is fast and urgent, and the engine is far more robust for overtaking manoeuvres and driving on larger roads out of town and on motorways compared to its naturally aspirated siblings. The 1.0-litre 75hp version is not bad at all, but you grapple with the gearstick more to make decent progress.  In town, the Up! is deliciously agile and easy to manoeuvre, while the low down torque is perfect for quick getaways from the traffic lights. All the other cars will seem to be going very slow.

The Up! is light and easy to drive and the five-speed manual gearbox is fun to use. The steering is very light so there is not much feedback, but there is still enough resistance to confidently throw it into corners, though the body roll will stop you doing anything too clever. The car is very composed and there is none of that awful bounce that plagues some small car rivals. There is some road noise however at speed.

In terms of economy, the Volkswagen Up! 1.0-litre TSI falls into the same tax band as the non-turbo 1.0-litre so it’s €190 per year, while the claimed economy is 60mpg but high 40s is more realistic in day to day driving.

There are four trim levels in the Volkswagen Up! range in Ireland: Take Up! (from €11,875), Move Up! (from €13,455), Up! Beats (from €14,855) and High Up! (from €15,005).

Volkswagen Up! review Ireland
The Volkswagen Up! remains one of the best small cars you can buy

The new 1.0-litre TSI is only available on the High up! trim with a list price of €17,065, so it is a lot of money to spend on a small car. Highline models come with air con, cruise control, leather trimmed multifunction steering wheel, 16” alloys, electric, heated door mirrors, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, and there are also some styling upgrades inside and out.

The Volkswagen Up! remains one of the best small cars you can buy but the high list price for the 1.0-litre TSI means that the non-turbo 1.0-litre is a more cost-effective choice, and as I found out when I tested the car back in 2015, it’s perfectly adequate. The turbo engine is more powerful and robust, especially out of the city, but the Up! is a city car, and that’s where it flourishes, turbo or no turbo.

Model tested: Volkswagen Up! High Up! 1.0-litre TSI
Price: 
€17,065 (Range starts at €11,875)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
90hp
Torque: 160Nm
0-100km/h:  
9.9 seconds
Top speed: 185km/h
Economy: 
60mpg
CO2 emissions:  
108g/km
Motor tax:
€190 per year

If you are looking for a funky city car, you might also like this review of the Fiat 500.

Caroline Kidd


Skoda Octavia 1.0-litre TSI Review Ireland

Skoda Octavia 1.0-litre TSI Review

It’s fair to say that the Skoda Octavia is a bit of an Irish favourite, with the car consistently being one of the top selling models in Ireland. The Octavia’s generous interior space and value for money pricing makes it an irresistible package for Irish car buyers.

Skoda recently introduced a new 1.0-litre TSI engine to the Octavia range that will replace the 1.2-litre TSI 110bhp that was previously available. Reducing engine capacity in favour of turbo charging has become a popular trend in petrol technology, and this new engine is no different. The 1.0-litre turbocharged unit packs 115bhp and it’s also more efficient, returning up to 63mpg compared to 58mpg in the 1.2-litre TSI it replaces. CO2 emissions are down from 114g to 103g, so motor tax is €190 per year.

Of course, Ireland is still a diesel-loving country so Skoda also offers the Octavia with 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels. In terms of power, the closest would be the 1.6-litre diesel with 110bhp. But petrol engines make a lot of sense for low mileage and/or urban drivers.

Skoda Octavia 1.0-litre TSI Review Ireland
The interior of the Skoda Octavia - hard to fault for good quality and simple intuitive design

There is also something very pleasant and refined about a petrol engine. On the road, the Octavia 1.0 TSI is impressively smooth and refined, though when you do rev it hard you may be reminded of your granny’s old supermini. It pulls hard from about 2500rpm – that’s the sweet spot when it feels just as nippy as a diesel, though when you hit the accelerator it’s not immediately responsive. But once it starts spinning, the Octavia 1.0 TSI will make you smile. There is 200Nm of torque on offer compared to 250Nm in the 1.6 diesel Octavia, but the petrol is marginally quicker in a sprint to 100kmh if you’re interested in that sort of thing. So it can keep up with the best of them! Real world economy during my test drive was 47mpg.

Elsewhere, this is solid if not particularly exciting motoring. The steering has a good weighty feel to it but there is not much in the way of feedback and the car feels a bit heavy and stodgy in the corners. Ride comfort is generally good though not as supple as the very best in this regard. The Octavia is a class above in terms of interior space, with large rear footwells and a massive 590 litre boot. There is also something very reassuring about sitting into the cabin of an Octavia. Everything is in its right place and Skoda has really stepped up the quality in recent years, so it’s far from budget feeling.

Skoda Octavia 1.0-litre TSI Review Ireland
The Skoda Octavia is a great value car that's big on space

There are currently four trim levels offered in Ireland: Active, Ambition, Style and L&K. Pricing starts at €18,995 for a very basic model. More realistic are Ambition models starting at what is still a very reasonable €22,880. Those cars include air con, cruise control, 16” alloys, four electric windows, rear parking sensors and a 6.5” touchscreen. Style models like the one on test start from €24,235 and include a rear reversing camera, dual zone climate control, rear LED lights, and a sports steering wheel. Diesels starts from €22,300.

The Skoda Octavia is clearly excellent value for the space on offer when compared to rivals. It’s not the most exciting car among its rivals, being quite conservatively styled and it won’t thrill you behind the wheel either but the 1.0-litre TSI does a great job here and gives the Octavia some real character.

Caroline Kidd

 

Model tested:  Skoda Octavia 1.0 TSI Style
Price:
€25,730 (as tested including Sport Pack at €1,495)
Engine:
1.0-litre three cylinder turbo petrol
Power:
115bhp
0-100km/h: 
9.9 seconds
Claimed economy: 
63mpg
CO2 emissions:
  103g/km
Tax band:
€190 per year