I HAD the opportunity to sample two newly-arrived Volkswagens recently – one with a fair bit of history and the other a brand new kid on the block.
First up was VW’s up! – I guess it had to be with that rather strange name.
It’s not surprising that more and more manufacturers are coming up with cute little models – this is the vehicle class that’s set to grow more than any other in coming years.
So VW has introduced its new city car which comes in three trims – Take up!, Move up! and High up! On top of these there are two special edition models based on the High up! – the up! Black and the up! White.
First impressions count and I thought this was a super little model – but with some reservations.
It comes with just the one 999cc three-cylinder petrol engine with outputs of 59bhp and 74bhp. Look out for a full electric version some time next year.
The lower-powered model proved nippy and was also agile enough on some winding, country roads but, as expected, it tended to lack a bit when power was needed on a more hilly stretch.
It did sit quietly enough with not too much engine or wind noise coming through at motorway speeds.
With the ever-rising fuel costs, economy figures of 56.5mpg urban, 78.5mpg extra urban and 68.9mpg combined will please up! buyers
This three-door model – five-door versions are due later in the year – was surprisingly roomy for driver and front seat passenger and two passengers wouldn’t be too cramped in the back either.
Boot size is reasonable at 251 litres and this extends to 951 litres with the rear seat folded.
The up! is a funky little car that will prove popular and has prices ranging from £7,995 to £11,180.
It has a good specification but all sorts of options are available – including parking sensors which if you bought for a car of this size would be certain to bring some comments from your friends.
Let’s move on to what has been a very popular bug for some time now – the much-loved Beetle.
The latest model is changed a lot from the famous Herbie in The Love Bug as it has evolved since it first appeared – some 74 years ago.
The Beetle has attracted 21.5 million sales since then and the fan club continues.
This new-look Beetle is longer, wider and lower, giving it a more masculine and dynamic appearance – perhaps that’s the reason for the little bud vase on the dash disappearing
The car has a more streamlined look with its longer bonnet and the steeper inclined windscreen moved back.
The boot capacity grows considerably from 209 litres to 310 litres, rising to 905 litres the split rear seats folded.
There are three trims – Beetle, Design and Sport - and five engines are available - three petrol, 1.2-litre 104bhp, 1.4-litre 158bhp and 2-litre 197bhp, and two diesel, 1.6-litre 104bhp with BlueMotion Technology and 2-litre 138bhp.
Inside, the front is roomy enough for driver and passenger but space is a bit tight for two adults in the back.
Prices range from £16,490 but the 1.4 Sport model I sampled was £21,220 - plus another £4,625 for the options, which included rather tasty ‘Vienna’ leather upholstery, including heated front sports seats, electrically adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support at £1,995.
Interior finish is of a high standard and it was also bright enough, helped by the optional panoramic sunroof (£945).
I couldn’t fault the car’s performance as I moved up and down its slick six-speed manual gearbox.
It handled well on the same country roads and with a top speed of 129mph moved quietly and smoothly on motorway stretches.
The new-look Beetle will turn heads and although I reckon it’s a bit on the pricey side, that won’t deter its many followers.