Pros: Handling, performance, refinement, build quality, efficiency, simple and a bit retro, whilst using cutting edge technologies (i.e. Maps+More, automatic city emergency braking system), looks sharp, inexpensive for a VW.
Cons: Slightly firm ride on country roads, slightly uncomfortable seats, gratuitous exclamation mark in the name.
I've had my up! for a couple of weeks now, and generally I am very happy with it.
The handling is entertaining, and it's a lot of fun to punt through twisty country roads. The engine, despite being only 1.0 litres, is really very responsive. This car does not feel slow at all. You might need to change gears a little more than you do in a bigger car, but the gear change is a joy to use.
Even when you are giving the car a bit of a caning, you can't actually hear or feel anything that would suggest the car is struggling. It is very refined and quiet for what it is - even as it pushes north of 6,000 RPM, it sounds very quiet and composed for what it is (I've always pushed my cars extra hard during the running in period, it seems to make them feel more responsive and doesn't do the lifespan any harm at all).
Whilst VW have obviously spent money on engineering this car, the cost cutting is obvious. Some of it is quite charming, and actually gives this car some sort of retro appeal (painted metal around the doors, no light in the boot, pop-out rear windows).
Because it's so simple and relatively cheap, the up! is probably the closest VW has come to replicating the basic but competent charm of the original Type 1 Beetle. This is a much more authentic retro experience than the New Beetle ever was. It actually reminds me of a modern take on the original Mini in terms of shape and footprint.
Despite the fact it does have the basic People's Car vibe to it, it's obvious that VW hasn't cut back on other more important areas, such as making sure the doors close with a solid 'thud'. It makes every other city car feel like a sardine tin in comparison.
Fuel consumption is a strong point. Even with the enthusiastic driving I've been partaking in as part of the running-in process, I'm using 6.0l per 100km. Once this car is properly run in and I drive it more sedately, I'm expecting to see the claimed 4.9l/100km without having to drive like a granny.
The Maps+More system (sat nav, Bluetooth, trip computer etc) is worth spending the extra money on. It is an AUD$500 option; given that most manufacturers charge at least double that for sat nav alone, it's good value for money.
About the only things I don't like about the up! are the slightly uncomfortable driver's seat (although this might be because I sit in a slightly odd driving position for my build), the slightly bumpy ride on country roads (but this car is very short with a wheel in each corner; blame the laws of Physics for that one) and some of more obvious cost cutting that would have been a game-changer during my purchasing negotiations i.e. only getting one remote central locking key. I'm also not a huge fan of the cheesy and unnecessary exclamation mark in the name, either.
Overall, the up! is a very good city car. However, if you can get the seating position just right, then you could easily bump 'very good' up to 'excellent'.