MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
Review: VW e-Up Electric Car
Martin Love reviews Volkswagen's electric car, the e-UP.
The Guardian/UK 18 Feb 2014
Over the past few years, the likes of Nissan, Renault and Tesla have pioneered the electric car as a viable alternative to the Ice car. (That's internal combustion engine, OK!) Now VW has put a toe in the water to test the temperature of consumer demand by launching its own purely electric car. It's a modified version of the all conquering Up – the supermini which drove off with the World Car of the Year title in 2012. The electrified Up is called the e-Up (said in a Yorkshire accent it sounds even better. Let's hope the next model is the e-Bah-gum).
Last week I travelled to Volkswagen's test centre in Milton Keynes to have a go in their smart little car. But before I tell you about it, we need to address the elephant in the room – The Price. This titchy car costs a staggering £24,250. The standard Up costs £8,265. There is a £5,000 "incentive" that the government will slip into your pocket if you buy any electric car, but even so you are still talking almost 20 grand. You'd have to spend more than £11,000 on fuel before you broke even. The e-Up's battery is guaranteed for eight years or 99,360 miles, but no one knows what sort of state the battery will even be in by then. Ergo, there is no possible economic case that would justify you splashing out on an e-Up! Which is a real shame as it's a terrific car. For comfort, economy, practicality and sheer joie de vivre it's one of the most forward-looking and transformative cars you'll see on the road.
Right, on with the drive. From the outside, the e-Up is identical to its non-electric sister. The difference is all in the drivetrain. Up front you now find a 81bhp electric motor, while the 230kg battery is cleverly built into the entire floor. This means there is no loss of space – you still have a usable boot and four good-sized seats. The extra weight also gives the car a lower centre of gravity which improves its handling – titchy cars can sometimes feel a bit skittery.
Turn the key and the Up powers up. There's no sound, of course. Press the throttle and… hey, it drives just like your own car. Despite all its futuristic technology it is so intuitive and so much a member of the VW family that you feel instantly at home. By the time I'd hit the first of Milton Keynes's millions of roundabouts – about 200 yards – I'd forgotten what was powering me. This chirpy little motor is smooth, unhesitating and effortless. It's swift, too. You'll soon be cruising on the motorway with the best of them – just not for very far. And that's the other but…
After The Price comes The Range. It's such an issue that it has spawned its own sub-category of anguish: "range anxiety". The Up has a range of 99 miles. It takes all night to fully charge and that 99 miles will cost you £2.80. Of course range is totally influenced by your driving style. On the open road I floored it and saw the needle shoot into the red faster than a teenager's bank account…
VW obviously wants its e-Up to be a massive sales hit. It won't be. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't shift a single unit, but that doesn't mean it isn't a success. For today's motorists, worried about the petrol running out, the e-Up is a harbinger of a carbon-free future.
Auto Trader, the UK's biggest motoring destination, has announced the return of Auto Trader Magazine, re-imagined for the digital era. The new monthly publication is free to download from Apple Newsstand and features original reviews, video and advice to help people find their new car. The digital magazine also offers real-time access to the UK's biggest classified listings, allowing readers to search seamlessly from the article they are reading. Editor-in-chief, Jon Quirk said: "Today is the result of listening to what our consumers want and countless test-and-learn iterations of our existing digital products, which we will continue to evolve. We know that consumers use Auto Trader for research in their buying and selling journey's and it's incredibly exciting to be developing original content and concepts for new consumer platforms as we begin to understand how these platforms are used."
Review II: Volkswagen e-Up - 'Shockingly Good'
Jeremy Laird shares his take on the Volkswagen e-Up electric mini.
Tech Radar 18 Feb 2014
Back in November, we crowned BMW's radical i3 the best electric car in Blighty – or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.
Just a few months later, that title is already under threat and from a surprising new entrant into the EV market. It's the new Volkswagen e-up!
Not surprising in the sense that it exists. We've known the Volkswagen e-up! Was coming for some time. But surprising in the sense that it turns out to be such a compelling proposition.
That's because the e-up! is unashamedly an electric rehash of a conventional combustion car. Much of the BMW i3's appeal is based on its ground-up, clean-sheet, pure-electric engineering.
The i3, then, is the electric car you'd design if free from all combustion-related baggage. The e-up! is inherently more compromised.
At this stage we also need to throw the Renault Zoe into the mix. It falls somewhere in between the i3 and e-up! in terms of the purity of its engineering.
Renault pitches it as an EV through and through. And it does have unique sheet metal. It isn't just a Renault Clio with a big battery. But it is still derived from Renault's combustion car architecture.
It's also worth noting that the £15,195 Renault is much more of a direct competitor to the £19,250 Volkswagen e-up! in terms of pricing, where the £25,680 BMW i3 operates in a pricier part of the market, especially when you start comparing lease deals.
That the e-up! remains more expensive than the Zoe is partly down to differences in things like battery leasing, but we'll come to that in a moment.
Design and engineering
Get underneath the new Volkswagen e-up! and you begin to understand why this is no low-cost lash up. Our test drive started from VW's technical training centre in Milton Keynes.
It's here that VW's main agent technicians learn about the nuances of looking after electric cars. Handily, that means an e-up! or two up on a ramp and a good view of the bottom of the car.
From there you can see how the battery is essentially a thin slice forming the bottom of the chassis. Not a lump chucked in the boot eating up luggage space and knackering the weight distribution, then. Even if you'd engineered the car from the very beginning for electric power, the battery packaging wouldn't be any different.
Whether you'd put the electric motor and single-speed reduction drive up front or in the rear is an interesting question. BMW went for rear installation and thus rear drive. But there are decent reasons in terms of packaging and driving dynamics (specifically safety) to stick it all up front.
Anyway, the point is that it turns out the Volkswagen e-up! is probably as well engineered for batteries as any other EV. This is no lash up.
Elsewhere, the car comes across as being pretty much identical to any other Volkswagen e-up! It's a slick, pretty well appointed city car with an appealing cabin and more space inside than you'd merit from the teensy exterior.
Oh, and finally, the e-up! is only available in five-door trim.
Let's start with the obvious bit. The Volkswagen e-up! gets a sodding great 230kg lithium battery pack. Actually, it's not that huge by EV standards. Batteries for these cars are big.
So it's an 18.7kWh battery where both the Renault Zoe and BMW i3 sport 22kWh packs. As for the motor, it's an 82hp item, which makes the e-up! the most powerful up! you can buy, albeit the heaviest, too.
Using a standard UK socket, a full charge from empty is nine hours, but VW can provide a fast-charge wall box that reduces that to six hours.
For any EV, the ability to recapture kinetic energy and top up the battery on the move is critical to overall operating range. The only problem is that such regen features can result in a clumsy driving experience. It can feel like you've slammed on the brakes when you lift off of the throttle pedal.
Here, the e-up! is actually more advanced than most EVs. VW has cooked up a five-stage user-selectable system of regen, starting with pure sailing and no regeneration at all through to maximum regen which also includes automatic activation of the brake lights, such is the retardation involved.
As standard, the e-up! gets the Garmin-derived Maps & More infotainment system. It's basically a modified Garmin mini tablet that's fully integrated with the up!'s telematics systems. The difference with the e-up! is the addition of internet connectivity as standard.
That allows for the usual app-enabled remote functionality that's common to a lot of Evs. So, that includes the ability to control and schedule charging remotely, pre-heating the cabin and all that jazz.
The e-up! also has DAB radio as standard.
Crikey, it's quite quick. That's your first thought when spool up the e-up!'s electric motor. Much of that comes down to expectations. When BMW pitches an i3 as maintaining the dynamism of conventional BMWs, you expect it to be fun and nippy.
With the e-up!, you don't know quite know what it's going to be like and so it's a pleasant surprise to find it feels significantly gutsier off the line than a conventional hatchback. Admittedly, the performance tails off a bit as you approach the national speed limit. But around town, this thing really shifts.
So ignore the offical 12.4-second sprint to 62mph. It feels far quicker than that.
Of course, as an EV it does everything with zero drama and very little noise, which only adds to the impression of an effortlessly nippy car.
Again, that impression fades a little at higher speeds as wind and road noise intrude. But that's true of any EV. At motorway speeds, wind and road roar are probably more critical to refinement than engine noise.
Anyway, with the battery pack mounted flat and low in the chassis, the e-up! feels supremely stable, too. OK, it's no sports car. But it doesn't suffer from excessive body movement. Can you hustle it down a b-road? Absolutely, and you'll have plenty of fun to boot.
As for range, well, the old adage of mileage varying applies. In the official NEDC cycle it maxes out at precisely 99 miles. VW is quite open about the fact that this is more of a theoretical maximum than a real-world number.
Going by our experience of the car, we reckon you'll get at least 50 miles out of it, even driving like a berk. 60 to 80 miles is probably a realistic expectation for most normal drivers.
If that doesn't sound like much, it's worth remembering that a huge number of cars in the UK travel as little as 15 to 20 miles daily. An EV isn't a universal transport solution. But for the millions of small hatchbacks used as local runabouts, the e-up! makes a very plausible alternative.
So what have learned about the Volkswagen e-up!? It's not the quick and dirty lash up you might have guessed, for starters. It's a properly engineered EV.
So, it's much better to drive than you might expect. The range is more than adequate for its remit. And it looks good inside and out. In fact, in many ways, it's one of the best EVs you can buy.
But is it good enough to topple the BMW i3? In simple terms, it's not as accomplished or as innovative as the i3. Yes, the i3 is around £5,000 pricer. But then it's so much more advanced, that price premium actually seems cheap.
What's more, £19,250 for the e-up! is a hell of a lot of money for what in many ways amounts to a basic hatchback. It's only slightly cheaper than VW's entry-level Passat. It also looks expensive compared to the £15,195 Renault wants for a Zoe.
However, few people buy these cars outright and when you add the £70 a month Renault charges for the Zoe's battery to the monthly lease costs, suddenly the e-up! looks competitive on price.
It's also when you consider lease deals that that i3 suddenly seems much, much more expensive. Really roughly, you're looking at about £200 a month for an e-up! vs more like £350 for an i3. That's a huge step up.
And so the new e-up! can't quite dethrone the i3. The BMW is just a bit too special for that. But VW's unassuming new EV is our pick of the circa-£20,000-and-under electric cars. It's far, far better than you'd think.
Test Drive: Volkswagen e-Up!
Digital Spy's Hunter Skipworth reviews the e-Up! and finds it 'all an electric car needs to be.'
Digital Spy 27 Jan 2014
The latest entry into the ever-growing world of electric cars is VW's e-Up! Boasting a no frills approach to petrol-free motoring, it takes a stripped-back approach to the automotive tech that we rather like.
So how does the Up! fair against its other slightly more expensive rivals? Is it all an electric car needs to be? Or does the technical wizardry of the pricier BMW i3 justify the cost?
Design and Build
First of all, a bit of review-based housekeeping. As much as we like VW's 'fun' use of exclamation marks in the e-Up!'s name, lets just stick to Up for this review.
In terms of build, the Up is VW's answer to the Fiat 500. It's designed to be as small and stripped back as a city car can be, while still retaining some of the brand's signature build quality.
The big deal here is that the design of the standard Up remains the same in the electric car. A few hints, like a special set of alloy wheels and some LED daytime running lights highlight this car as the electric offering.
Crucially, VW has managed to cram the car's electric power plant into the Up without a huge amount of boot space being lost. Rear passenger leg room and interior space also remain unaffected.
Standard on the e-Up is VW's 'Maps and More' infotainment system. While it isn't comparable to the far more complex units found on top-end Audi and BMW cars, it is a fantastic piece of kit to see on a car at this price point.
Essentially, it behaves like a beefed up aftermarket SatNav made especially for the Up. Navigation, complete with voice-based directions and, in the case of the e-Up, charge-point locations, is included.
Then you have a means to browse music stored on microSD cards as well as manage Bluetooth phone connections.
The Up will allow you to both make phone calls over Bluetooth, as well as stream music. Interestingly, you can pair two separate devices at once, so music can be streamed from one and calls made from the other.
Unique to the e-Up is a power management and monitoring system that shows in detail where all the vehicle's electricity is going.
What you don't get is the rather incredible i-Drive setup found in BMW's i3, or the slick Nissan Leaf's start-up animation found on the car's dash. It's a shame really, as it stops the e-Up from feeling anywhere near as special.
Instead, the only thing to really hint at the e-Up's electric car credentials is the fuel readout on the dash being replaced with a battery gauge and the rev-counter instead showing the amount of battery regeneration and drain.
Tucked away on the car's center console are two buttons, one with the word 'eco' and the other with 'eco+'.
These two modes reduce the amount of power output in the motor to further maximise the e-Up's total range (100 miles on one charge is the theoretical max). In standard eco mode, power drops from 60 to 50kw, while Eco+ drops things further to 40kw.
Switching between these modes, you barely notice a difference - bar periods of heavy acceleration. In city driving, Eco+ is perfectly acceptable and drastically increases range.
More significant a difference in the way the e-Up drives can be made using its customisable regenerative braking.
Once you slot the car into D, it's possible to then switch between three separate driving modes. Each mode (D1, D2 and D3), gradually increases the amount of regenerative braking on offer. Turned up full whack, you can basically drive the car without braking, while putting charge back into the battery every time you lift off the accelerator.
The effect is largely the same as that on the BMW i3. It takes some practice, but in the end, you can drive the e-Up completely using a single pedal. In the city, this makes it perfect.
A special 'B' drive mode requires one click of the gear level back in order to activate. This makes regenerative braking severe enough to bring the car to a complete stop when you lift off the accelerator pedal. It might not be for everyone, but this struck us as the best way to drive the Up.
Just a note on charging. As was the case with the Nissan Leaf, you get two different charging cables, one for main AC charging and the other from an optional VW wallbox. Expect around nine hours for a full charge from flat on a domestic socket and six on the VW box.
In the end, the e-Up's electric drive is all it needs to be. You plug the car in, charge it and go. The lack of electronic bells and whistles only acts to further emphasise the car's money-saving credentials.
Taking the e-Up out on test, it felt like it was the ultimate money-saving vehicle, perfectly suited to urban living and having the added bonus of being eco friendly. Living with one for a year and not spending a single penny on petrol or congestion charging fees would be very rewarding indeed.
The e-Up ticks almost every conceivable box that an electric car needs to. First up, it will save you money. VW doesn't implement any of the silly battery rental schemes of competitors, so aside from paying for the car, you really could (theoretically at least) spend nothing else on running it.
That said, the e-Up lacks some of that special something that the likes of the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf have. It never really 'feels' like an electric car, aside from being dead silent when it runs.
Some would argue, with electric cars being on the cutting edge of technology right now, they need every piece of tech a company can throw at it.
Of course, there is the opposite to this argument, which is that they are purely an exercise in being eco-friendly, so some batteries are all you should be after. If you are one of the latter, it strikes us as the perfect vehicle for you.
VW e-Up Priced Above the Competition in Britain
Lem Bingley does his homework and discovers that Volkswagen's electric e-Up city car pricing 'seems optimistically airborne.'
Green Motor/UK 25 Dec 2013
Since driving a prototype electric Golf last year, I’ve had high hopes about Volkswagen’s arrival in the electric car business. My early foretaste of the upcoming e-Golf was deeply impressive, and the miniaturised e-Up equivalent ought to be equally well sorted.
However, it seems that VW may have failed to notice that it’s not 2011 anymore. Over the past few years, electric car prices have been wafting their way down from the stratosphere. Volkswagen’s pricing for the e-Up, by comparison, seems optimistically airborne.
The e-Up is a five-door electric city car with a range between recharges of up to 93 miles. It’s generously but not luxuriously equipped for an urban runabout, and it has basic on-the-road price of £19,250 (after the £5,000 reduction of the Plug-in Car Grant). That’s enough to buy a modestly specced Golf, by the way.
To spread the e-Up’s hefty cost, VW is offering a £199-per-month, 3-year finance deal, which doesn’t sound too painful until you notice that it requires a deposit of just over £7,000. That’s quite a chunk of cash.
The e-Up’s 18.7kWh battery is the stumbling block of course – with lithium-ion cells remaining stubbornly expensive it’s not really possible to make an EV that’s truly cheap. But a little browsing among Volkswagen contract hire options reveals exactly how much a buyer might save by opting for petrol power instead of batteries. The mid-range VW Move Up model is available for £99 per month after a deposit of less than £2,750, for example. But then that model of Up does retail for only £9,425, or less than half the price of the e-Up.
Yes, the e-Up is better equipped and will be substantially cheaper to run than a conventional alternative. But no amount of fuel saving is going to stop the electric Up from giving your wallet a painful hammering.
Even those fully braced to pay extra for the attractions of battery-powered motoring will probably find more tempting options elsewhere.
Renault won’t sell you a Zoe electric car outright, but its policy of renting the battery does make its urban EV cost less upfront. Owners must pay at least £70 per month to lease the battery, and the rest of the car costs from £13,995 after the plug-in grant. I found a dealer offering four-year financing, taking a deposit of just under £2,900 followed by 48 payments of £249. Over the first three years, that would tot up to about £3,000 less than running the e-Up over the same period – and the Renault is a size up from the Up.
And increasing in size again there’s the British-built Nissan Leaf. When the Leaf launched in 2011 there was one trim level that cost £25,990 after the government rebate. Today you can buy the equivalent specification – a Leaf in Acenta trim – for £23,490.
A stripped down Visia edition of the Leaf costs from £20,990. And if you’re happy to sign up for £70-per-month battery leasing, you can lop £5,000 from those asking prices. One chain of Nissan dealers is advertising a Leaf personal contract with £3,650 deposit and 36 monthly payments of £169, including battery rental. Over the three years, that works out more than £4,000 cheaper than the e-Up. And the Leaf is a substantially larger car, with an improved range of up to 124 miles.
At the other end of the spectrum, it’s also worth considering the electric option that now sits above the e-Up in outlay terms. The new BMW i3 electric car is currently priced from £25,680.
BMW’s three-year deals for the i3 start at £369 per month with around £3,000 down. That works out about £2,000 more than the e-Up over a three-year period, as you might expect for a bigger car, with more impressive technical credentials and a distinctly more upmarket image. But it’s sobering to reflect that the tiny e-Up is closer in cost to the i3 than it is to the Zoe or Leaf.
Against this competitive backdrop, the e-Up is going to need to be mightily impressive in the metal to notch up noticeable sales this coming year.
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