Volkswagen's manufacturing infrastructure operates on the basis of shared commonality, so its decision to replace the original concept’s unusual rear-engined set-up with an orthodox transverse front-wheel drive system is understandable. VW argued that the previous layout would have required significant extra investment and limited the Up’s capacity to share in its vast parts bin.
For anyone who found the thought of a small Volkswagen with an engine mounted just ahead of the rear axle appealing, the transformation will seem like a notable dilution of the initial Up formula, but the firm insists that the show car’s spaciousness – one of the main reasons for its unconventional configuration – has been preserved thanks to less conspicuous ingenuity.
Most of it takes place under the bonnet, where a new generation of three-cylinder motor recovers almost 100mm of available real estate from the engine bay. This feat was achieved by installing the cooling system alongside the compact powerplant rather than in front of it. The car also has one of the longest wheelbases in the segment and VW claims that the Up offers exceptional space utilisation of its diminutive 3.54m overall length.