The e-Up! is powered by a single electric motor, producing 82PS (60kW), or more importantly 210Nm of torque (155lb ft). To put that in perspective, the current Up! GTI produces 200Nm (148lb ft) from its turbocharged three-cylinder. While the e-Up! is not rapid to 62mph (that’s 11.9 seconds) it really isn’t a car designed to ever hit 60mph – a fact reinforced by the speedo’s efficiency-marking blue area ending at around 50. What it can do, and I’m sure you’ve read enough reviews of electric cars now to know what’s coming, is deliver a proper thump to the back at low speeds. The e-Up! is incredibly happy zipping around between 20 and 40mph, picking up rapidly and nipping through city traffic as if it was born to do such things – mostly because it was.
The top speed is just 82mph, but it will happily sit around national limit speeds if needed, just remember that this will begin to zap its 210-volt batteries pretty quickly. But to do so, is really defying the purpose of the e-Up! – electric city cars are the very definition of a city car. While their petrol powered sisters and brothers will be able nip off out into the country with just a bit more noisy fuss than normal, the electric version is a car for nipping around in town, or perhaps a between town jaunt. With a roughly 150-mile WLPT range the e-Up! will never be a car to take you to Scotland. In the real world we found the charging speed – while blessed with up-to-date dual CCS chargers – to be in the region of an hour, or 90 minutes plus with the single charger.
But if you do use the e-Up! for its stated purpose, it’s actually rather fun. The suspension feels a little more relaxed than its petrol siblings – probably to deal with the 248kg of batteries it’s carrying around – so it does sometimes surprise with a bit of a rollercoaster ride over a small hump, but that low torque makes it much nipper, and not at the expense of more noise. The e-Up! feels an altogether more relaxed place to be than the standard Up!, removing the normal thrum of the three-cylinder engine and replacing it with a pretty minimal whine. Steering feel is non-existent, but it’s light and fast so perfectly suited for your about town meanderings. My only gripe with the driving experience is that the default settings are for regen to be off and for the lane assist to be on. Until you get used to pulling the gear selector back a second time to put it in B (battery) mode, rather than D, you find yourself pulling off the throttle expecting that electric regeneration braking and finding that you’re actually just sailing toward whatever object you want to avoid. I’m not entirely sure why you’d want regen to be automatically off, but it is, but that’s a quibble. Lane guidance being on as standard, meanwhile, is down to legislation, so we can’t really blame Volkswagen.