Volkswagen Up!: Finally, a Great City Car?

Volkswagen Up!, front

City cars either scare the bejesus out of prospective U.S. drivers, or they make fun of them, or they just don’t see the point.

The point is, folks, that the U.S. badly needs a good city car—something that’s well-built, handles well (enough), is spacious enough to carry four comfortably and is, above all, small, parkable, low on emissions and high on fuel economy.

Volkswagen’s Up! appears to fill the minicar prescription and should sell well in Europe when it appears in March. It’s “brilliantly packaged and effortlessly easy to drive,” says TopGear, which gave the Up! its 2011 Small Car of the Year award.

A front-driver with choice of two 3-cylinder engines, the Up! actually gives its passengers, including those in the back, real room since it has a long wheelbase of 95.3 inches, wheels out at the corners, and is 64.6 inches wide. A 9-cubic-foot trunk (34 cf with rear seats folded), gives you real carrying capacity. It’s smaller than the MINI Cooper, with more interior space. And it’s better-looking and better-packaged than the Fiat Panda, another competitor.

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