The small car wears large wheels, with 18 inch rims sitting at the four corners.
Pushed to the extreme edge of the platform, overhangs are almost eliminated, similar in application to the modern Mini Cooper.
This wheel positioning further increases the space available for the interior. The lack of a radiator grille is meant to evoke the Volkswagen Beetle, but in truth the vehicle bears more resemblance to the Polo.
The interior itself has some unusual features. In order to create form-fitting seating Volkswagen has upholstered with air mattresses which can be inflated or deflated to match the contours of individual passengers.
Driver information is relayed via an 8 inch screen placed directly in their line of sight, and displays such novel readings as momentary CO2 emissions, although the practicality of such information beyond instilling an immediate feeling of guilt is hard to understand.
A console mounted touch screen finds a home in between the driver and passenger, and it is used to control interior temperature and entertainment options. Volkswagen also claims that the unit will respond to hand gestures – again, a feature of questionable utility, especially for those who may have small children.
However, it is important to remember that concept cars are not about practicality and are often intended to show possible future designs to the world at large. As such, the UP! is certainly an interesting idea.
Very few city cars have been successfully marketed in North America, with the possible exception of the Smart car, but the fact that Volkswagen is targeting a price point of below $9000 speaks well for its chances, as this undercuts the current Smart offering.
If the public is not put off by the futuristic European styling, and if Volkswagen can make a compelling quality argument versus the Korean brands which tend to dominate the low end of the compact segment, then it is possible that the UP! could see success in major American urban areas.