Six months with my Volkswagen up!

Great car for commuting, shopping and almost everything else

How time flies. Six months ago I picked up my Volkswagen up! — back in March. So far I haven’t had a single issue and I’m pretty happy with it.

I’m not affiliated with Volkswagen in any way. In fact, until days before I bought the car I couldn’t even imagine ever owning a VW. I always felt that although their cars were solid and reliable, they are incredibly boring and uninspiring. I guess when you get older you maybe start to see many things more from an economic perspective, and from that point of view, the up! is hard to beat. I would love to see more Australians downsize their car to a reasonable level.

The main reason I decided to buy an up! was because I wanted more mobility without paying a fortune. With the car I was able to move from the CBD to a quiet suburb and commute to work every day, while I was still working in Abbotsford. Even though I live only 10 min walk from a train station, and the train stopped next to my office, on most days I took the car simply because it ended up cheaper than the train, and also because with the heating it’s a lot warmer during winter.

Fuel economy
Fuel economy

Even in city traffic it is possible to keep fuel consumption around 5-6l/100km, making it quite affordable to drive. On my trip along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne to Portland earlier this year I managed to get away with around 4l/100km. The biggest nuisance that remains then really is traffic congestion and parking fees, and that’s why I started to cycle to work again after I found a new job in Carlton recently, where people are more relaxed when it comes to office hours, compared to my previous job.

A few weeks ago I did a weekend trip to Tasmania, to pick up the rest of my belongings from my old apartment, which I thankfully was able to store at a friend’s house near Hobart. I took the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport, then drove on a very nice day along the West Coast and South West all the way down to Hobart. Next day, back to Devonport for the return ferry. It was an absolute pleasure to drive.

Queenstown, Tasmania
Queenstown, Tasmania

There’s really nothing I could complain about when looking at the quality of the car. Sure, the (manual) transmission is one of the cheaper ones and feels a bit clunky. Strangely the car doesn’t come equipped with floor mats (optional) and every now and then the (optional) GPS/media unit loses the Bluetooth connection to my iPhone, but given the car’s price tag of $12-13.000 I don’t feel like these are issues worth complaining about. You get what you pay for, and given that I’m about to buy a motorbike that costs twice as much, the up! feels like a bargain.

Everything else feels pretty solid and reliable, the car drives well and I can’t think of a better car for commuting, shopping, city life and short trips. Since I moved to my new house earlier this year I did several trips to IKEA, carrying home all kinds of furniture, like chairs, tables, shelves and even a queen-size mattress (rolled). With a bit of pushing and shoving it all fit in the tiny car.

IKEA furniture
IKEA furniture

As mentioned earlier I’m not affiliated with VW but I’d like to emphasise the friendly and welcoming service I received from my VW dealer (Burwin Volkswagen) at any stage of the purchase process, because it was certainly part of the reason I decided to buy. I remember the day when I started to seriously consider the up!, I told my colleague (who had bought the same car a few days earlier) who then rang the dealer to ask if they could make me the same deal he got for his car. A few hours later a sales rep arrived with an up! at my office to pick me up for a free test drive.

There’s just one thing about the up! that I can’t get my head around. In 1999 Audi (which belongs to Volkswagen) introduced the Audi A2, a (then) revolutionary 5-door production car with an average fuel consumption of less than 3l/100km for the TDI diesel version. I find it hard to understand that in 2013, 14 years later, the best Volkswagen can come up with for the 3-door up! is an engine with a fuel consumption of 4l/100km (average more like 5l/100km). I don’t know what their engineers have been doing for the last 14 years, but this sure is pathetic.

On the other hand, look at Australian and Asian car manufacturers and their best offers are not even close to 4l/100km, or they are far more expensive hybrids. In a country where ‘motoring enthusiasts’ can expect to be elected for the senate, driving a 4l-car feels like driving the future, so I’d like to see more people join in, do the right thing and abandon their SUVs and Commodores.