I’m up! for simply brilliant little VW

There's no downside to Volkswagen's up! now that it has five doors, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

It is the simple things in life that work so well – you only have to look at the high-flying Volkswagen up!

The more I drive this compact four-seater city car the more I like it, regardless of whether it the up! or the near-identical, but restyled, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii.

But here we concentrate on the VW up! which, along with its Volkswagen Group cousins, is now available with five doors, boosting the initial three-door range.

It may have gained a couple of doors and a lot more practicality, but the up! has lost none of its cute character – this little car just looks so good from any angle.

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Small and compact, it's easy to drive, easy to live with, easy on the wallet and easy to like – that's why the up! is just so simple.

And it's even easier to live with two rear doors. Despite being small to fit into a compact body, access to the back is good and once aboard you'll find it remarkably roomy in the back when it comes to head and legroom – plenty for four adults.

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The back door windows are on hinges and pop out rather than drop down inside the door – not a bad thing if you have young children.

Given the amount of cabin space the up! still has a decent 251-litre boot which is enough for a largish suitcase and a soft holdall. A two-stage boot floor, which sits just below sill height, creating a useful protected compartment beneath, or drops down to make the boot deeper adds to the versatility. Rear seats back split 60/40 and fold flat, level with the boot floor in its highest position to create a 959-litre loadbay. My only gripe, in fact my only niggle with the whole car, is that you have to manually lift the parcel shelf and remember to push it down again before shutting the tailgate – the number of times I went to drive off only to find I could not see out of the back screen.

Engine choice is simple too – there's just a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol unit with the choice of 60 or 75PS outputs and five-speed manual or automatic gearboxes.

For most people the 60PS engine will be enough but if you plan longer journeys – and the up! is more than up for it – the higher-power unit is worth considering for the slightly better acceleration.

I drove the BlueMotion Technology version of the 75PS engine which includes automatic stop/start, low rolling resistance tyres and battery regeneration system.

If you think you have to thrash small engines to make decent progress the up! will come as a pleasant surprise. It's remarkably flexible, happily picking up in fifth from 30mph, but revs eagerly above 3,000rpm when kept on the boil with the slick manual gearbox and the three-cylinder engine emits a throaty, thrummy note which adds to the character. The ability to trickle along at low revs in high gears aids economy – I never saw less than 55mph and regularly got 63-64mpg with a best of 72mpg.

For a small car the up! has a grown-up feel to drive. Wheels pushed out the corner make it taut and tidy through corners while the ride is supple and absorbent.

And it's all pretty simple inside with the instrument binnacle dominated by a large speedo flanked by a small rev counter and fuel gauge. Most switchgear is clustered in a piano black insert in the body-colour trim panel on the fascia with a straightforward audio system and rotary controls and push-buttons for the heating a ventilation system.

The steering wheel adjusts only for height but it's still easy to find a comfortable set-up and good visibility makes it ideal for city driving. Plastic trim is utilitarian but will be hard-wearing .

Simple spec levels see entry Take up!, moving through Move up! to range-topping High up! which is also the basis for special edition up! White and up! Black. Safety equipment and standard kit is good but there are also various option packs. If you go for Take up! or Move up! spend �290 on the clever portable satellite-navigation, Bluetooth and infotainment screen which clips on top of the dashboard.

The Volkswagen up! is quite simply brilliant.

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