Introduction: Volkswagen Up

Volkswagen’s new baby, the Up, is an entirely new design, intended to offer the maximum interior space for a modest footprint of 3.54m x 1.64m. Although the mechanical layout of the production model is entirely conventional, the Up’s design actually started life as a rear-engined concept: this was abandoned for the simple reason that the rear powertrain sub-assembly would not have enough ‘commonality’ with other models for the car to be cost-effective. Remember that margins for small cars are themselves very small.

And so it is that the Up has a transversely-mounted front engine and front-wheel drive. The very small front overhang (see photos below) means that some ingenuity had to be used in packaging the engine installation. The radiator, for example, is mounted on top of the gearbox. The limited crumple volume ahead of the engine means that impact load paths need to be controlled with particular care.

Volkswagen Up (top) and its bigger predecessor, the Fox. The Fox was designed and built in Brazil, and its 2465mm wheelbase is common to several Latin American Volkswagens. The Up is built in Bratislava alongside the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne.

The Up will be built at Bratislava in Slovakia, and launched in Europe in December. There will be three versions: Take Up is the entry-level car, Move Up the comfort-orientated model, and High Up the top version.

Making its debut in the Up is a new generation of three-cylinder petrol engines, with outputs of 60PS and 75PS. Combined fuel consumption as a BlueMotion Technology version (including a stop-start system) is 4.2l/100 km (67.2mpg) for the 60PS variant and, with CO2 emissions for this version promised to be less than 100g/km. There are plans for an Up with electric drive, but no diesel version seems to be in sight. Seat will be offering a CNG-powered version on mainland Europe, but we will not see it in Britain.

The engine’s cylinder block and crankcase are die-cast from aluminium; the four-valve head is cast from a standard aluminium alloy. To reduce weight, most ancillaries are fixed directly to the crankcase. Cylinder liners are of cast iron. No balancer shaft is used. Interestingly, and perhaps to reduce engine unit cost, indirect fuelling is used; despite this, the compression ratio of both engine versions is a healthy 10.5:1.

An interesting new safety technology in the Up is the optional City Emergency Braking system. This is automatically activated at speeds under 18mph, and uses a laser sensor to detect the risk of an impending collision. Depending on the speed and conditions, City Emergency Braking can reduce accident severity, or avoid an impact, by initiating automatic brake interventions. So far, the Up is the only vehicle in the segment to be offered with this function.

At 3540mm in length (Fox: 3828mm), 1640mm in width (1640mm) and 1480mm tall (1524mm), the Up is one of the smallest four-seater cars. The relatively long wheelbase should allow quite acceptable passenger accommodation. The 251-litre boot is larger than is typical in this class; the rear seats fold, as you would expect, to give a maximum cargo volume of 951l.

Length 3540 3620 3415 3825
Width 1641 1658 1615 1640
Height 1489 1505 1465 1524
Wheelbase 2420 2300 2340 2465

While we do not normally pass comment on styling issues, it has to be said that the interior lacks the eccentic, funky design touches that allow manufacturers to get away with simple construction and cheap materials. In short, it looks a little down-market. We will have to see what buyers think.

For the first time in a Volkswagen, the Maps + More system is now being offered, which is a mobile Personal Infotainment Device (PID). In the Up, this is a modestly-specified system that was developed to organise navigation, telephone, information and entertainment. It was designed in cooperation with Navigon. The user snaps the PID into place above the centre console, and it integrates with the car’s systems, such as parking sensors. Apps specially developed for the Up also let users extend Maps + More to meet their specific needs.


Overview: Volkswagen Up

The comments above were based on the information that was available when the Up was first announced to the press last year. We can now give you rather more detail.

As this is written, a five-door version of the Up has been announced, and Volkswagen has committed to making an electric version available in 2013.

Powering the Up (at present) is a new three-cylinder 999cc petrol engine, of which two versions are offered: one delivers 60PS, the other 75PS. Both engine derivatives offer the same maximum torque figure of 95Nm. The combined NEDC fuel economy return for the 60PS Blue Motion Technology model is expected to be 68.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 96g/km. At present, the only transmission available is a five-speed manual unit; later, an automated version of the same box will be offered.

All models have ABS and four air-bags. All except the base model also have ESP. City Emergency Braking is an optional extra: this operates at speeds under 19mph, detecting an impending collision and applying the brakes to avoid, or reduce the severity of, an impact.

Also new for the Up is the ‘Maps & More’ mobile Personal Infotainment Device (PID). This is an economically priced system, developed to organise navigation, telephone, information and entertainment. It was designed in cooperation with Navigon. The user snaps the PID into place above the centre console. Unlike other similar systems of this type, Maps & More connects with the car’s network of systems, adding vehicle information to the infotainment elements. For example, it displays the output from the parking sensors if they’re fitted. Apps specially developed for the Up also let users extend Maps & More to meet their specific needs.

The Up’s platform is new, sharing nothing with the outgoing Fox. The drag coefficient for the new car is a very impressive Cd 0.32, which is quite an achievement for so short a vehicle. In line with industry practice, the car’s shape was developed aerodynamically using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) working on 1:4 scale models before any full-size mock-ups were built.

Once a full-size ‘vehicle’ has been assembled, the aerodynamic model is covered with an exterior skin of clay, enabling quick changes to be made to the shape. In addition, the 1:1 model already has realistic shapes of engine compartment and underbody structures; in turn, this allows quick changes to parts that are important to the aerodynamics, such as the front and rear spoilers and underbody panels. The designs of aerodynamically relevant add-on parts are then finalised based on measurements from the first prototypes.

The Up’s minimal front overhang makes it hard to manage the airflow before it arrives at the wheels and wheel-arches.. The sides of the front section of the car are shaped so that the air would flow around the wheel housings with minimal turbulence.

Volkswagen quotes a figure for body-shell torsional rigidity of 19.8kNm/deg., — good for a hatchback. Kerb masses, though, are very impressive, with the entry-level model weighing a mere 854kg according to the DIN standard.

Suspension is entirely conventional, with single wishbones and struts in the nose and a torsion-bean set-up behind. Sports suspension, lowered by 15mm, is optional. A full-size spare wheel will be a low cost option in the U.K. — we think it should be standard, but it’s good to see a proper spare at least being made available.

Volkswagen Up Fox Polo
Length 3540 3828 3970
Width 1641 1640 1682
Height 1489 1524 1462
Wheelbase 2420 2465 2470
— front
— rear



Luggage volume
— seats up
— seats down




The Up was designed by a team led by Volkswagen Group Head of Design, Walter de Silva, and Volkswagen Brand Design Chief, Klaus Bischoff. As we have mentioned elsewhere, it was originally intended to be a rear-engined car, but the need for a unique drivetrain made this option uneconomic.

The body materials of the Up consist of 8.1 per cent. hot-formed steel content, including the floor and B-pillars. Volkswagen claims that the car’s body mass was reduced by 13kg by the use of hot-formed steel.

In the area of the front side members, sills and side roof frame, dual-phase steels are used. which, together with hot-formed steel panels, create the basic structure for the safety cell. The Up also uses 39.3 per cent. ultra-high-strength steels and 17.2 per cent. high-strength steels, with 24.9 per cent. of the weight of the body structure made up from conventional deep-drawing steels; these which are used for visual parts that are very hard to manufacture, such as exterior parts of the side body or rear wheel housings.

Despite the need for ever-improving shell rigidity and crash properties, the Up’s lightweight index — a measure of the efficiency of mass utilisation — has improved by 34 per cent. over the Lupo.

We have mentioned the Up’s static torsional rigidity figure of 19,800Nm/deg. Also, a dynamic rigidity value (the fundamental torsional vibration frequency) of 49Hz is quoted, which is high.


Making its début in the Up is a new generation of one-litre, three-cylinder engine, known internally as EA211. Although the 82mm cylinder spacing is shared with Volkswagen’s ancient EA111 engine series, these are completely new engine designs. The 999cc engine is available with peak power outputs of 60PS and 75PS and is presently certified to the Euro 5 emissions standard. A Blue Motion Technology version, with features such as a stop-start system, battery regeneration, low-friction ancillary engine component drives and low rolling-resistance tyres, is also offered. Ininitally, all engines are available with a single five-speed manual gearbox; from the second half of 2012, an automated version of this transmission will be offered. In mainland Europe, an ‘Eco Fuel’ version of the engine, which is powered by compact natural gas, is also available, though it is not expected to make an appearance in the U.K.

The new engine is an all-alloy unit. The two overhead camshafts are driven by toothed belts; the intake camshaft has variable timing. The engine’s dual-circuit cooling system and integrated water-cooled exhaust manifold are aimed at reducing engine warm-up times. Each cylinder is equipped with a separate ignition coil.

Both (petrol-powered) versions of the new three-pot have a compression ratio of 10.5:1, and engine control is performed by a Bosch Motronic unit, type ME 17.5.20.

The aluminium crankcase is die-cast in ‘open deck’ construction. To reduce mas here, most of the mounting points for ancillary components are located directly on the crankcase, eliminating the need for the otherwise usual ancillary drive bracket. The cylinder liners are of grey cast iron.

Volkswagen boasts that the connecting rods and the pistons are so light that no balancer shafts are needed. Engine mass and drive friction have also been reduced by the use of unusually small main and connecting rod bearings. Six crankshaft counterweights are used.

The valves are inclined at 21° (intake) and 22.4° (exhaust); the valve stems have a diameter of 5mm. The cylinder head has an integrated exhaust manifold: as mentioned previously, this arrangement allows a faster warm-up. The engine coolant is heated faster during the cold start phase, because the exhaust channels within the head merge at a central flange. In normal operation, the exhaust gas stream is cooled more intensively.

The issue of weight-saving also applied to the firewall insulation. Instead of the usual moulded part, a more economical and very lightweight stamped part is used. Sound insulation has been achieved to some extent by tuning of structural damping. To some extent, sealing of the body, to minimise entry of undesirable noises into the passenger compartment, reduced the need for sound-absorbing materials.

As to outputs, 90 per cent. of the 60PS version’s maximum torque is available between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. Standing-start acceleration to 100km/h takes a claimed 14.4s, and maximum speed is 99mph. This version returns a combined 62.8mpg while emitting 105g/km of CO2. The 60PS version, as we have mentioned, is also available with Blue Motion Technology modifications, which improve fuel economy by nearly 10 per cent. The NEDC rolling-road results are 68.9mpg and 96g/km of CO2.

The 75PS variant offers the same maximum torque output of 95Nm between 3000rpm and 4300rpm. Flat-out acceleration to 100km/h takes just over a second less, at 13.2s, while the claimed maximum speed rises to 106mph.

Combined NEDC fuel-economy is 60.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 108g/km.

In Volkswagen-speak, ‘Blue Motion Technology’ models sit between the full Blue Motion variants — in the Polo, Golf and Passat ranges — and the conventional products. ‘Blue Motion Technology’ is essentially a half-way house, leaving out the more expensive equipment and modifications used on Blue Motion cars — though with the general adoption of the stop-start system, the gap is narrowing. What you don’t get with a Blue Motion Technology car is lowered suspension or bodywork modifications.

The breadth of Blue Motion Technology modifications varies from range to range. In the Up it incorporates low rolling resistance tyres and low-friction ancillary engine component drives, as well as stop-start and overrun charging of the battery.

Overrun charging, or ‘battery regeneration’, as Volkswagen calls it, boosts the alternator voltage during deceleration and braking phases. Conversely, the alternator can be switched out or its voltage lowered when the engine is under load.

In addition, Blue Motion Technology models have an additional battery data module (to acquire momentary charge status), a heavy-duty starter, a DC/DC converter (which guarantees voltage stability of the onboard electrical system) and a battery designed for deep cycle performance.

The automatic stop-start system in the Up is operated through the clutch pedal. When coming to a halt at traffic lights, for example, the driver depresses the clutch and selects neutral. When the clutch is released, the engine shuts down and a ‘start-stop’ symbol illuminates on the multi-function display. The engine restarts automatically when the clutch pedal is pressed again. The system can be deactivated through a switch. The stop-start system reduces fuel consumption by ‘up to six per cent.’ in city driving.


A new aluminium five-speed gearbox is used in the Up. The conventional manual gearbox, referred to as the MQ100, weighs just 25kg, including transmission fluid, which makes it the world’s lightest gearbox in this torque class. Indicators for the recommended gear and the engaged gear are fitted in the instrument cluster. As well as being light, the gearbox is also very compact, measuring 341mm long by 462mm wide.

An automated version of this gearbox, which uses two electric motors to carry out gearchanges, will be made available from the second half of 2012. With a mass of less than 30kg, the SQ100 is one of the lightest automatic gearboxes ever built. The ‘automatic’ transmission offers ‘D’, ‘N’ and ‘R’ selections, or the driver can cchanmge gear manually. Unlike most automatic gearboxes, this unit has no ‘P’ (park) stage, meaning the Up is parked and restarted in neutral.

Both gearboxes are designed for a maximum input torque of 120Nm. The manual and automated versions both have a long fifth gear.


The Up is built at Volkswagen’s Bratislava plant in Slovakia. Volkswagen Slovakia produces cars, gearboxes and components at its two plants in Bratislava and Martin. At the plant in Košice, Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Škoda vehicles are prepared for sale in Russia and Ukraine. The main plant in Bratislava covers an area of 1,780,058 square metres. Both Kia and PSA also have plants in Bratislava.

Both vehicles and gearboxes are produced at Bratislava. In addition to the Up and its Škoda and Seat siblings, the production portfolio includes the Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7 and Škoda Octavia, as well as bodies for the Porsche Cayenne. In 2010 the plant produced 144,510 vehicles and 379,000 gearboxes. Martin is a component plant.

Volkswagen Slovakia is one of the Country’s major exporters, with vehicles made there shipped mainly to other E.U. countries and China. It is also one of the Country’s largest employers: at the end of December 2010, some 6,964 people were employed by Volkswagen Slovakia.

60PS 60PS
Cylinders 3I 3I 3I
Block/head Al/Al Al/Al Al/Al
Valves 4 4 4
Aspiration A A A
Swept volume 999cc 999cc 999cc
10.5:1 10.5:1 10.5:1
PS/rpm 60/5000 60/5000 75/6200
Nm/rpm 95/3000 95/3000 95/3000
Maximum speed 99 100 106
0-100km/h 14.4 14.4 13.2
Urban MPG
Combined MPG
CO2 g/km 105 96 108
Emissions EU5 EU5 EU5
Transmission M5 (AM5) M5 (AM5) M5 (AM5)
Driven wheels Front Front Front
Fuel tank 35l 35l 35l
Kerb mass † 854 865 854
PS/t 70 69 88
Nm/t 111 110 111
Dimensions See graphic
CcxA 0.32x2.07m²=0.67m²
† DIN kerb mass. For E.U. kerb mass, add 75kg.

Hot-forming has been used for some time in vehicle bodies. Generally, the steel chosen for hot-forming contains between 0.002 per cent. and 0.005 per cent. boron. Before forming, the steel sheet is raised to a high temperature — at least 850°C — and this temperature has to be maintained during the forming process, whether it is stamping or rolling. It must then be cooled very rapidly, at a rate of at least 50°C per second.

Dual-phase steel (DPS) was developed in the 1970s from the need to produce high-strength steels with more formability than microalloyed steel. It has a structure consisting of a soft iron matrix containing ‘islands’ of martensite, a very hard crystalline steel, as a secondary phase. The martensite increases the tensile strength.


Overview: Volkswagen Fox

The Fox is Volkswagen’s current entry-level model, set to be replaced by the Up. It was designed and built in Brazil, made its international debut at the 2005 Leipzig Show, and went on sale in the U.K. on 28 April, 2006.

The Fox offered more than passable passenger accommodation, though inevitably the boot was small. At 3830mm, it was a little longer than its predecessor, the Lupo.

A single three-door body was offered, along with one engine option, a 1.2-litre 60PS petrol engine. The body was of galvanised steel body and made extensive use of laser welding — a total 4.36m of it. Static torsional stiffness was 17.9Nm/degree, with dynamic torsional stiffness of 39.2Hz.

Made in Volkswagen’s São José dos Pinhais plant in Curitiba in south-eastern Brazil, where Renault-Nissan and Volvo also have a presence, the original concept for the Fox was designed for the South American market. Substantial modifications were made for Europe. Volkswagen U.K. sold 9622 Foxes in 2010, its best year since launch.


Around 220 miles from São Paulo, São José dos Pinhais plant in Curitiba is a modern car factory operating to Volkswagen’s internal standards. The Golf and Saveiro models for the South American market were already produced at Curitiba by the 2500-strong workforce; considerable expansion of the factory took place with the arrival of the Fox. For example, 145 robots were added to the existing 130 on an expanded production line. The assembly area has expanded 20 per cent. to 2000 square metres; the press shop now covers 4000m2.

Production coordination is carried out by the Volkswagen Manufacturing, Information and Coordination System, or VWFIS. This stores all relevant data before and during production to create a ‘birth certificate’ for each vehicle. This includes the temperature reached during painting, the engine and gearbox numbers and the torque values used to tighten specific fasteners.

To ensure consistency, at certain stages of construction, laser measuring stations check the accuracy and quality of construction of each individual vehicle. Any elements that do not fully meet the required standards are taken away and examined to determine the cause.

The Fox shares a paint shop with the Golf. Thanks to the use of water-soluble paints, solvents are only required in small quantities.

Volkswagen’s 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee is offered on the Fox thanks to a protective coat which is applied to the car’s galvanised body. Wax heated to 120°C penetrates all cavities and seals the parts against moisture.

To assure quality and streamline production, three pre-assembled modules are built and then put together in the final assembly process. The front end consists of the mountings for the front subframe, bumper mountings, radiator and bonnet lock; the running gear consists of the front subframe, suspension, engine and gearbox including the exhaust system and fuel tank; the dashboard with instruments, pedals and steering, and the bulkhead that separates the interior from the engine compartment.

Each completed Fox is sprayed with water jets for six minutes to ensure that it is watertight. Acoustic tests measure noise or vibration from the drivetrain. In the ‘E-Check’, all electronic functions from the warning lamps to the engine management system are tested. Power-units are tested at the São Paulo engine plant.


Although the Fox was available with two engines early in its life, Volkswagen’s new three-cylinder 1198cc four-valve unit replaced both of them. It delivers 60PS and 108Nm and is fitted with a single balancer shaft. This engine is combined with Volkswagen’s MQ200 five-speed manual gearbox. M stands for manual; Q refers to the use of transverse drive units; while 200 indicates the torque limit of 200Nm.


With the Fox, Volkswagen looked at various natural materials to improve the model’s environmental credentials. In the process, the income of many agricultural workers was made more secure. For example, in addition to coconut fibres, fibres from the curauá plant — a member of the pineapple family and a crop traditionally grown by the indigenous peoples of South America — are being used for the first time in automobile production in the Fox. Mixed with polypropylene, curauá is used for the roof-lining and parcel-shelf. Curauá lends itself to these applications as it is light, completely recyclable, non-absorbent, odour-free and of pleasing texture. Volkswagen purchases around 100t of curauá each month.

Volkswagen do Brasil’s Spacefox uses same 2465mm wheelbase as many other small Brazilian V.W.s, including the Fox. Power comes from 1598cc dual-fuel engine offering 101PS on petrol or 104PS on ethanol; torque outputs are 151Nm and 153Nm respectively. Kerb mass 1123kg, overall length 4178mm.
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