VW boss Martin Winterkorn today unveiled the innovative Volkswagen up! city car concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Based on a completely new platform and drivetrain and measuring just 3.45 metres in length the up! marks the return to the rear engined layout once seen in the iconic original Beetle. Winterkorn confirmed that the concept is one variant of a potential range of vehicles that VW is calling its New Small Family. A version for emerging markets is possible.

The up! concept, designed by a team overseen by Chief Designer of the Volkswagen Group, Walter de Silva, marks the debut of a new styling direction with simple features while retaining the instantly recognisable Volkswagen ‘face’.  At the rear is a tailgate section constructed entirely out of a transparent material, inset into the centre of which is a glowing Volkswagen roundel. 

Walter de Silva commented: ‘The up! is not a car whose form will become obsolete within a very brief period of time.  The up! is a clear and strong statement for future Volkswagen design.’

The challenges facing the Volkswagen engineering team, led by Director of Concept Development, Ralf-Gerhard Willner were considerable.  The up! concept is intended as inspiration for a new family of small, extremely efficient vehicles.

The up! concept can be powered by a choice of highly compact two- or three-cylinder engines depending on the specific market.  The up! concept is intended as a car for all languages.

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Despite its modest proportions the tightly packaged up! concept vehicle is capable of carrying four adults.  The maximum potential interior space was created by pushing each of the four wheels as far into the corners as possible.  This not only frees up space and reduces front and rear overhangs but also improves vehicle stability.  The need to maximise efficiency continues to the vehicle’s interior.  Each of the individual, lightweight passenger seats, which feature inflatable pockets to maximise comfort, can be folded and removed from the vehicle if necessary in order for larger loads to be carried.

The up! concept rethinks the way in which both the driver and passengers interface with the vehicle.  Unique software linked to a touch sensitive screen has the ability to sense specific hand movements of the user to access the climate, entertainment and vehicle function controls.  A second screen, mounted ahead of the driver, relays critical information on the vehicle’s systems along with an instantaneous read-out of the amounts of CO2 being emitted.