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Volkswagen has joined the EV movement with an electric version of its Up city car.
Like a lot of electric conversions from existing models, the e-Up looks exactly like the standard car, so, save for the small badges, you'd be none the wiser from the outside.
Things become a bit more obvious in the cabin, though. The gear lever has three 'D' modes, which obviously aren't gears, but they do deliver varying levels of regeneration to the battery ('D1' being the least and 'D3' being the most) when you're decelerating. There's also a 'B' mode that creates heavy deceleration, akin to light braking, which also regenerates the battery when it needs it and helps towards the potential 99-mile range.
Use those 'gears' on the road and you'll rarely need the actual brakes at all. There's the usual silent running that comes with electric cars, so only a little wind and road noise can be heard from the cabin - and that's largely because there's no engine noise.
Again, as is usual with an electric car, all the pulling power is available from the off, so it's initially very quick. Power isn't in seriously short supply at A-road and motorway speeds either. The handling is just as tidy as that of the standard Up, if not a little better, as the battery pack being mounted beneath the centre of the car improves the centre of gravity.
VW has thrown some extra equipment at the e-Up to compensate for its higher than average P11D value. It comes with everything you'd get on the top-spec High Up model, along with DAB radio (standard on the rest of VW's range but yet to be so on regular Ups), a heated windscreen, electronic climate control and the firm's City Safe emergency braking system.
At £19,195 after the Government's £5000 electric vehicle grant, you could hardly call the e-Up cheap for a city car, especially when you compare it with the petrol versions, the most expensive of which costs £12,060. The chasm between the electric version and the range's starting price of £8210 is gigantic, and a 24.3% RV is far weaker than VW's usual standard.
It's pricier than the larger Renault Zoe too, which starts at £18,388 before the £5000 discount, but the VW doesn't have the Renault's monthly battery lease cost.
It's a better prospect than Peugeot, Citroen and Mitsubishi's electric city cars, though. The Ion, C-zero and i-Miev are inferior on range, space and cost. The BMW i3 supermini is also pricier at £30,625 and 50.9ppm.
All told, the e-Up strikes a reasonable balance between cost and feasibility given the current crop of EVs, and it's based on something that was a good car to start off with. It's neither cheap nor totally practical, but it is a likeable little car, and the EV running cost business benefits shouldn't be discounted if you can live with the limited range. That said, it's hard to ignore the value of the standard petrol version.
£24,195 (exluding £5000 Government grant)
Model price range
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
3yrs 60,000 mls
Usual EV flaws but a good all round, alternative fuel city car.