Volkswagen (VW) e-Up All Electric Vehicle (2015 Model Review)

Written By: Andrew H.

Up, Up, And Away (In Europe)! | A Review of the All-Electric 2015 Volkswagen e-Up!  

                  2015 Volkswagen e-up (All-electric). Photo Credit - volkswagen.co.uk

Cliché 1: The 2014 Volkswagen e-Up is shockingly smart.

Cliché 2: The all-new plug-in hatchback from Volkswagen offers electric performance.

Cliché 3: The electric e-Up automobile will give you a buzz.

In a world full of old chestnuts and corny jokes, the Volkswagen e-Up stands apart for a simple reason: It doesn’t try to. Most electric vehicles (EV’s) proselytize their green efficiency. Their avant-garde Star Trek design is a megaphone from which to broadcast their commitment to Mother Earth. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen e-Up takes a different road. It was designed to be normal.


Where Did It Come From?

The hatchback, which has the heart of a roller skate, traces its origins to the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, where the original concept was introduced as the “Beetle of the 21st Century.” Four years later, at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen unveiled its finished product, and the 2015 e-Up went on sale in Germany in October 2014.


What’s It look Like?

The e-Up looks like a Volkswagen Golf that was left too long in the dryer. At 10 feet, six inches in length, the five-door hatchback is roughly half the length of a Ford F-150 SuperCrew. Its clean, simple lines shed wind and ego in equal measure. Volkswagen calls it a 3+1, which, contrary to high school arithmetic, does not equal a 2+2. Whereas a 2+2 automobile can accommodate up to four passengers comfortably, a 3+1 automobile is designed for three passengers comfortably, four in a pinch. Such is the difference between math and marketing.

2015 Volkswagen E-Up (All-Electric). Photo Credit - volkswagen.co.uk
*Click on Images to Enlarge*


How Does It Work?

In America, where 2+2 often equals 1+1 due to the obesity epidemic, small cars are small business. Yet in Europe, where people come smaller, the e-Up is a popular “supermini” automobile. Its sibling, the gasoline-powered Up!, is already the bestselling supermini on the continent. How, therefore, does one improve what was already a blockbuster automobile? Hint: The answer has nothing to do with octane.

Was one to crawl underneath the e-Up – a difficult task for all but the slimmest of men – one would spy a long, black bar nestled between the axles. That bar is a 507-pound lithium-ion battery rated at 18.7 kWh, responsible for one-fifth of the vehicle’s total curb weight. Though small, the vehicle weighs a stout 2,511 pounds. That battery feeds electricity to an electric motor, which converts the river of electrons into 54 continuous horsepower (or 82 peak horsepower) and 155 pound-feet of torque.

Charging the battery through a standard European 2.3-kW wall socket would take nine hours. Volkswagen sells a special charging unit that reduces charging time to six hours. When plugged into a commercial DC fast charger, the e-Up charges to 80 percent capacity in just 20-30 minutes. The car slurps electricity through a charging port cleverly hidden behind the folding logo on the hood, which makes it easy to charge the vehicle when parked in a garage.


Does It Drive Well?

Electric cars have the stigma of being slow off the mark. The Volkswagen e-Up is a welcome exception. With a 12.4-second 0-60 mph dash, it is the quickest of all Up! automobiles. Due to its low center of gravity, the e-Up is a hoot in which to navigate roundabouts and urban freeways. Although it struggles to keep up with Interstate traffic, the supermini has ample torque to traverse urban roads. It has a top speed of 81 mph and a driving range of 93 miles.

This might be the opportune moment to say, sadly, that the Volkswagen e-Up is not currently sold in America. Volkswagen has its reasons, and they are named Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Minneapolis. Such American cities are victims of urban sprawl, where overgrown suburbs contribute to longer work commutes and high-speed freeways. Such is why Volkswagen would rather keep its ground-level supermini hatchback in cool, cloudy Europe.


Can It Hypermile?

If any driver were to embark on a longer commute, he would have two options to increase his range: adjustable driving modes and adjustable regenerative braking.

The e-Up has three driving modes: Standard, Eco and Eco+. Eco mode caps power at 67 horsepower, twist at 123 pound-feet of torque, and speed at 71 mph. Eco+ mode caps power at 54, twist at 98, and speed at 56, respectively. Eco+ also turns off the air conditioning.

The driver can also regulate the resistance of the regenerative braking system through D1, D2, D3 and B modes. In B mode, the regenerative braking is strong enough to act as a default brake, allowing a driver to navigate most commutes without ever completely removing his foot from the gas pedal.


Is It Luxurious?

Although the Volkswagen e-Up would rather do without gasoline, it would never do without its comfort. Every e-Up comes with split-grain leather trim, heated front seats, and a touchscreen interface mounted in the center of the dashboard. That touchscreen can present maps, search for charging stations, and showcase e-vehicle information. All the tidbits of modern convenience – cruise control, heated windshields, LED daytime running lights – are present and accounted for.

There is just one thing missing: a gearshift lever. Since the e-Up has no standard transmission, a driver shifts between forward and reverse drive by twisting a rotary knob nestled in the center console. The e-Up accelerates smoothly without gearshift interruptions. Folding down the rear seats opens up 8.8 cubic feet of storage space, enough for a few large backpacks.


Is It Coming to America?

Although the 2015 Volkswagen e-Up will not be sold in America, Automobile Magazine has hinted that Volkswagen may export its plug-in supermini to select U.S. cities. Since most public charging stations are located in California, residents in Silicon Valley can look forward to test-driving the e-Up. If the American Passat is any indication, then the U.S. edition of the Volkswagen e-Up will be larger, faster, and driven by people who can stomach its $35,000 price tag.