VW offers pure electric variant of its popular Up! car

When urban traffic returns to its previous levels, we predict more people will be seeking clean, modest, efficient and minimal transportation – enter VW

city car
The VW e-up! is a city car through and through
(Image credit: press)

When it debuted in 2011, the little VW up! instantly became one of our favourite cars, especially if one overlooked that eager exclamation mark. The petrol-powered up! was about as basic as a modern car can get, with a wheel-at-each-corner stance and VW’s traditionally minimal detailing. The e-up! is the range’s pure electric variant, with all the amenities of its conventional sibling but the added delight of zero tailpipe emissions. At 159 miles, the range is at the lower end of what one might expect from a new electric car, but despite being perfectly capable of a modest excursion, the e-up! is ultimately a city car through and through.

As one of the smallest electric cars you can buy, the e-up! ticks almost every box in the city driver's dwindling option list; compact, peppy, practical, and low-key. The interior reduces instrumentation to a bare minimum with a dash mount that enables your smartphone to take over navigation and media player duties (although infuriatingly it doesn't seem to take larger-sized devices). Quality is up to usual VW standards, which means everything is satisfyingly solid, from buttons to interior materials. The flipside of such a small footprint is a lack of luggage space, but as we've already established, this is not a car for taking four people on a long road trip. However, if and when urban traffic returns to its previous levels, more and more people will be seeking clean, modest, efficient and minimal transportation. In this respect, the e-up! is all the car you would ever need.

There'll come a point in the next six months when VW will be complementing the e-up! with a home-grown rival, the all-new VW ID.3, just over half a metre longer and with double the range. Despite this, the ID.3 is still classed as a compact car and everyone is expecting it to shoot to the top of the EV best-seller lists (teething problems notwithstanding). So where will that leave the little e-up? We hope there'll still be a future for diminutive industrial design in all its forms – a world that desperately needs to re-focus its craving for consumption has to start somewhere. After all, the hitherto elusive delights of quiet roads, empty streets, temporary pedestrianisation, lowered air pollution and freedom of movement is making minimalists of us all.

electric car

(Image credit: press)


Volkswagen e-up!, from £22,865. volkswagen.co.uk

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.