Car Tips

Volkswagen Up is tiny, but big on gas

Sunday, November 04, 2012

For many years, the smallest Volkswagen available has been the Golf. But there's one that's much smaller. VW calls it the Up.

It's small in many places, starting under the hood. The engine is a three cylinder, displacing just one liter. Output is a not-quite whopping 75 horsepower. But that's OK, because there's not much car to haul around.

It also measures in at just 139-inches long, almost exactly the same as another small car: the Fiat 500.

The Up is on the small side just about everywhere. The wheels and tires are small by today's standards and even the gas tank is small at a little more than nine gallons.

However, fuel economy numbers are big. It got 40 mpg city and 50 highway in one test. And the interior is surprisingly big, too. There's tons of room in the front seats and even decent space in back.

For now, the Up is only sold in Europe, where it goes for the equivalent of $12,000 to $17,000. But if the small car trend continues, we could soon see it on our own roads, joining the others,and giving more drivers something fun, affordable and fuel efficient.

Small cars have gotten more popular in the U.S. in recent years. For example, the Mini has almost singlehandedly made them fashionable to some and the Fiat 500 stumbled initially, but has really picked up steam this year. On the other hand, the very small Smart Car has been less than a sales success after initially doing well.

Chevrolet is also trying its hand at a really small car, the Spark. It has the room and high-tech features of larger models in a compact package. Chevy says the time is right for a car like this.

"With the combination of the fuel price changes and also the economy, people are looking to get a lot more car for their money and they know size is part of that equation," said Jim Federico a General Motors executive.

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