It dawned on me gradually, while testing the Volkswagen E-Up, the enthusiasm with which I was approaching roundabouts.
If I were in any doubt, the hooting drivers soon alerted me as enthusiasm swelled further.
This, however, was unconventional enthusiasm. Normally, I like to look far ahead at roundabouts and drive straight through without stopping. It’s the greenest, most satisfying way. When it’s busy, this requires very careful modulation of speed and gears; this is where details such as a sensitive, feel-packed brake pedal come into their own.
It was different with the E-Up though. I was actually looking out for traffic to get in my way. Modulating speed so I had to stop and wait. And why?
Because scooting off the line again was such fun.
See, the Volkswagen E-Up boasts an 82hp electric motor that, like all such EVs, delivers all its pulling power virtually from the off. The figures say it has 154lb ft of torque, which gives it the pull equal of a Mazda CX-5 2.0-litre. Only this weighs 1,139kg, not 1,425kg.
(Admittedly, it’s heavier than the 929kg regular Up. But it’s still lighter than most four-seaters on the road, despite its bulky EV batteries.)
It all adds up to a feeling a bit like being catapulted into space. Moving away from the line is not a matter of gathering things up and getting going but, with a following wind, a bit like releasing the chocks on a fighter jet. For such a cheery-looking car beloved by Tall Girls, it’s amusingly unexpected.
The delight came in now being able to exploit gaps in the traffic I never before have been able to – no, not even in hotrod hot hatches or souped-up supercars. The Up feels like it could beat them all between 0-30mph, even if the driver were a normal person rather than the professional race drivers used for such acceleration runs.
Other road users probably hadn’t seen anything quite like it. But while I did get hooted, there was not actually any danger because I was out the way and away so rapidly. They simply couldn’t comprehend how quickly an Up could react. To be honest, neither could I.
And it’s this that could well make the Volkswagen E-Up THE car to have in Central London. Beat them all, give yourself a decisive advantage… and be applauded by everyone concerned with city centre air quality too. Literally, refreshing.
Just make sure you don’t get too carried away though. Even on a good day, the range is les than 100 miles. It’ll be a bit embarrassing if they overtake you again while you’re searching for a plug socket with an extension cable in your hand.