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CONCEPT: Volkswagen up!

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VW reinvents Volkswagen with up!
A 21st century version of the peoples’ car
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Greg Kable | drive.com.au | 11/09/07


Volkswagen has taken clear inspiration from its iconic Beetle in creating a new rear engine, rear-wheel drive concept car.

Unveiled prior to the official start of the 2007 Frankfurt motor show was the new Volkswagen up!

Called Volkswagen up!, the contemporary looking three-door hatchback points the way to an affordable new entry level model to be sold around the world from 2010.

The up! is part of a program aimed at seeing Volkswagen going back to its roots and concentrating its efforts on producing volume selling models with wide customer appeal.

That’s a dramatic turnaround after Volkswagen’s recent flirtation with the luxury car segment.

By opting for an unfashionable rear-engine/rear-wheel drive layout for its latest small car, Volkswagen is seeking to achieve dramatically reduced production costs and clear packaging advantages over the small car competition, the majority of which rely on a more conventional front-engine/front-wheel drive layout.

The move is not without precedent, though. The smaller two seat Smart due to go on sale in North America early next year is also based around a rear-engine/rear-wheel drive design, leading to rumours in Frankfurt that parent company Mercedes-Benz may be interested in seeking a co-operation with Volkswagen on the development of a new small car platform for a possible four-seat Smart model.

The up!, which Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn hints could eventually be sold under the Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda brands as part of a concerted three-pronged attack on the small car ranks, was styled at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany under the leadership of Walter de Silva.

Well known for his transformation of the look of the Audi line-up in recent years, the talented Italian designer has given the up! a highly modern appearance with a clean and uncluttered look that is aimed at appeal to buyers of all ages and ensuring classless appeal.

At the same time, he has also provided new interpretations of Volkswagen’s classic badgeplate, including one that sits under the clear plastic screen at the rear and lights up when the tail lamps are in operation.

The up! is just 3450mm in length and 1630mm in width. Despite these compact dimensions, Volkswagen claims to have provided it with class leading interior space.

By adopting a similar mechanical layout to the original Beetle (as opposed to today’s front-engine model) and positioning its engine and other components low down at the rear, VW’s latest concept provides accommodation for four adults along with a limited amount of cargo space under the stubby bonnet up front and over the engine at the rear.

The interior design of the up! blends with that of the exterior with a simple yet attractive look enhanced by a touch screen monitor to access all minor controls.

Winterkorn says the upcoming production version of the up! is being developed in two distinctly different versions: an upbeat city car for thriving metropolises and a low cost variant for emerging markets.

Along with the three-door hatchback on show in Frankfurt this week, other bodystyles are also being planned according to Volkswagen insiders.

At the upcoming Tokyo and Los Angeles motor show, Volkswagen will reveal further takes on the new car, which is referred to internally under the name “New Small Family”.

Volkswagen is remaining characteristically tight-lipped on the mechanical specification of the up!, saying only that it could “conceivably run all facets of technology.”

Drive can confirm the German car maker is already well advanced on a range of small capacity direct injection petrol engines to power various models.

Among them are turbocharged three-cylinder and turbocharged two-cylinder units – the latter of which is claimed to be returning fuel consumption figures of 94mpg in early road going tests.

Officials also confirm Volkswagen is studying various plug-in hybrid concepts, although they admit the costs of applying such technology to a car like the up! may ultimately prove too high for it.

In comments to the German press in recent weeks, Winterkorn has regularly affirmed the business case for the up! is strong and insists the future entry level model will make money.

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Ugh. How ugly. Looks like a Rabbit and a Fiat 500 had an ugly love-child. They should just do the Next Beetle like this, with a rear engine. It would tie in with the heritage of the original and offer something the Mini doesn't have.

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Would the rear engine be an idea to get over the front pedestiran impact standards while still utilizing a fwd based drivetrain, while also improving handling?

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Wow... a city car I would buy!!! :smilewide:

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won't sell here unless the engine is up front.

design is in no way iconic.

why not just make the beetle the new people's car?

pass. next.

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won't sell here unless the engine is up front.

Seeing most people don't know how to change their oil or windscreen fluid, I doubt this would be an issue. Plus Porsche sells cars here...

Edit: 200th post :)

Edited by Farkas
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I have to admit that I am not a big VW fan, but this thing is one ugly box. I think the trio of minicar concepts that GM introduced at the New York Auto Show in April looks much better than this odd contraption. If I was in the market for this type of vehicle (which I never intend to be), I would much rather have one of the GM concepts (if they would ever decide to bring them to market).

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Why not sell a R/R car here?

The NEW Beelte is NOT a car worthy of the name, this is a step in the right direction.

I REALLY like this. REAR drive REAR engined cars is what I grew up with. (Skodas)

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fine concept, fine body shape, ugly details. Minor changes would make this car fine by me... if it's reliable and built with consistent quality (which VW is not known for)

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Some designer seemingly missed the Saturn Ion jokes about "interior by fisher price, and decided to revive them with this car. Simplicity in interior design can be done well. This is only partway there, IMO.

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I think it is a butt ugly munchkin with a pukeworthy interior.

However the R-R thing fascinates me. It will be like driving a go-cart.

Although being a VW it will end up having a weight of a Mack Truck, so out go the dynamics.

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Intriguing, sooo futuristic and shocking, slightly off-putting it's... so new. Cool, minimalist. Quite a statement that VW is back in The People's Car game.
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Yeah, the name is cheesy and incomprehensible. But it appears to be well-executed from road to roof.
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Yeah, the name is cheesy and incomprehensible. But it appears to be well-executed from road to roof.

I see you have a new catchphrase going on there Ocn... you've been posting that saying around lately!
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This would make Hitler roll over in his grave! :P

VW - History: In 1933, Adolf Hitler submitted sketches to Ferdinand Porsche of a proposed "Volks-Wagen" ("People's Car"), a basic vehicle that should be capable of transporting two adults and three children at a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The People's Car would be made available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme, which set the price of the car at an impressively low 990 Reichsmark, which was about the price of a small Motorcycle at the time, an average income being around 32RM/week.

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Translation - "Five marks a week you must put aside - If in your own car you want to ride!" What a catchy little ditty! :smilewide:

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"Volkswagen chairman Martin Winterkorn says there's a distinct possibility the next-generation Beetle will sit on a stretched version of the Up! concept car's rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive platform." :pbjtime:

- from Autoweek magazine 9.24.07 issue

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I think a more literal "5 marks the week must thou spare/Willst thou in (thine) own wagon fare" is perfectly understandable, and better conveys the formality of German (and kinship with English).

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