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Volkswagen Up!: Gettin' Down With Veedub

Motoring Channel Staff - 11/September/2007

Volkswagen Up!
Volkswagen Up!

Volkswagen Up!
Volkswagen has high hopes for the Up! concept,
predicting it will become a new vehicular icon

Volkswagen Up!
With a large rear windscreen rearward vision
should be good, aiding city driving and parking

Volkswagen Up!
The interior is minimalistic which suits the car

Sydney, Australia Volkswagen has taken the wraps off the Up!, an all-new model that the German marque claims could lead to an entirely new range of cars. One of the most interesting aspects of the new VW Up! is the engine location - in the rear of the car. There's also a good chance that it will be driven by a range of low emission 'green' engines.

Here's the full press release from Volkswagen:

Volkswagen Up! Concept

Now Volkswagen is presenting – as a world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt – a concept car that once again has the right stuff needed to move more than just one generation. It is a small, pure and high-spirited Volkswagen that pays tribute to its environment. The overall concept is marked by an innovative, clear, intuitive functionality. 

The name of the concept car: up! – a positive name that is a synonym for departure, activity, dynamics and the future. "For Volkswagen", says Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Board Member with Responsibility for Technical Development, "the response of IAA visitors will be a decisive test to determine whether the concept has the same kind of potential possessed by the Beetle at one time or by the Golf today."

Concept

The up! is a city specialist, a car for four persons and all languages, for the job, the university, the drive to the beach and the excursion outside the city gates. A small car that shows a lot of size, because it offers more space than any other car of similar length (3.45 meters) and width (1.63 meters). 

Its engine – conceivable here are all facets of technology that can be sensibly applied – will run in the rear. And that changes everything: Space, mood and design. 

Walter de Silva, Chief Designer of the Volkswagen group, sums it up like this: "The up! is not a car whose form will become obsolete within a very brief period of time. It shines in its cleverness and yet is made with loving care. And so the up! is a clear and strong statement for future Volkswagen design." Furthermore, the team of designers and engineers has envisioned the up! concept car as the first member of an entire model line; other facets are entirely conceivable.

Ralf-Gerhard Willner, director of Concept Development, has final responsibility for the technical layout of the up!. He and Walter de Silva had already achieved a new balance in the mutual interaction between form and function at Volkswagen before the start of the project. "Absolute harmony of the basic technological concept and the emotional aspects of the design", note Willner and de Silva in unison, "can only be achieved in a hard clash of ideas between engineers and designers. That is the only way to produce icons." 

That is precisely why the up! is not your run-of-the-mill, small, tightly packed car, but instead is a clever, innovative whole. 

Its form is pure. It just had to look like this, no other look would do. There is nothing superfluous, and its functionality – and so also its design – speak for themselves. Simultaneously – and this is typical of Volkswagen – uncompromisingly attention was given to refining every line and every surface until we had created a friendly and masterful car.

Exterior Design

The fact that the engine of the up! runs in the rear has a decisive influence on its exterior design. That is because the up! has no classic radiator grille. It forges links to the Beetle. This fact alone gives it a great deal of independence. Dominant design characteristics are the headlamps that take an inward and diagonal line, between them the horizontally arranged air vents, the VW logo (as one of the few details kept in chrome), the tailgate that extends far forward and the smooth bumper with a circumferential black stripe as a detail of the "happy face" that is typical of Volkswagen.

In many areas, technology and design have melded into a vehicle architecture that is not only appealing, but is also very utilitarian. The rear end of the up! is a good example of this. The tailgate was produced using a transparent material. Under this gate developers also integrated the high layout of the taillights.

Another feature that is technically and visually new is the location of the VW logo in the tailgate; it is also located behind glass and illuminates when the light is on. The rear bumper was designed to match the "happy face" in front.

The powerful appearance of the up!, despite all of its compactness, is emphasized by a very wide track width (1.42 meters) relative to vehicle width. The wheels are flush with the sporty outboard wheel arches and side skirts. The radial design of the wheels and surfaces extending right up to the edge of the rim make the 18-inch wheels appear significantly larger than they actually are.

The wheels that are arranged far outboard in the bumper areas reduce body overhangs to a minimum. All of these features are part of an unmistakable side profile with a very long roof arch as well as clear and large surfaces. Giving shape to its style here are the large doors and the lateral window surfaces, which incline sharply upward at the height of the rear wheel arch and thereby help to form the very independent C-pillar design.

Interior Design

Mounting the engine in the rear opened up entirely new interior concepts. Relative to its exterior size, the space offering is exceptionally forward-thinking. The same is true of its variability: Except for the driver’s seat, all other seats can be folded and removed. Since they are designed as light shells, they can be quickly stowed in one of the cargo areas – besides the front trunk there is also one in the rear – to free up space. Afterwards, the entire passenger compartment length can be utilized as a storage area for especially bulky objects.

To achieve the high level of seating comfort that is usual at Volkswagen, besides their ergonomic design, in the case of the up! this level of comfort is also attained by a simple yet very effective trick: Similar to a self-inflating air mattress, air can be sucked out of the seat surfaces via a valve. This means that the seats can be adjusted 1:1 to the body anatomies of the occupants who have just taken a seat.

Intuitive Controls

On its up! concept car, Volkswagen is presenting some completely new solutions when it comes to operator controls. Klaus Bischoff, Chief Designer for the Volkswagen Brand, comments on this: "Another reason the up! is so fascinating is because everything, every detail, was thought out anew. In the interior we have a touchscreen with new proximity sensor technology for controlling the navigation, radio, trip computer and climate control systems. It is operated absolutely intuitively. As a result, the most complicated functions can be controlled like child’s play."

Related articles:
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion (2008)
Volkswagen Golf GT - TSI (Road Test)
- Volkswagen Tiguan Compact AWD
- Volkswagen Golf R32 (Road Test)
- Volkswagen Golf GTI (Road Test)
- Volkswagen Passat R36
- Volkswagen Polo TDI (Road Test)
- Volkswagen Golf GTI W12 (Concept)
- Volkswagen Passat V6 (Road Test)
- Volkswagen Golf R GTI (Concept)

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