Up with Volkswagen

Volkswagen launches the Up concept car at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.

The headlights and grille on the Up form a face.
The headlights and grille on the Up form a face. CNET Networks

Volkswagen dropped a bomb at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show in the form of an unexpected little concept called Up. Actually, it's more of a grenade, as the Up is a city car--small but able to hold four people. What makes the Up interesting is that the engine is in the rear, a configuration Volkswagen used with the original beetle. And from its press materials, Volkswagen suggests that the Up could be as iconic. That remains to be seen. Although we like the clean look of the Up, it doesn't stray far from the Golf's design.

It uses some interesting innovations to take advantage of the space inside. First, all of the seats except the driver's seat are removable, to make lots of cargo space. But, since the seats are thin, they can be stacked in the car without taking up all the extra space. The padding on the seats is inflatable, so they are supposed to adjust to whoever is sitting in them. Because the engine is in the rear, there's some storage space under the hood.

With removable seats, there's lots of room in the Up.
With removable seats, there's lots of room in the Up. CNET Networks

The tech interface in the Up is particularly interesting. The driver gets an 8-inch LCD in the instrument cluster, which shows vital car information. A 7-inch LCD sits on the center stack and has controls for music, navigation, telephones, and other car functions. The center LCD has a proximity sensor and will show available functions when you put your hand near it. For accessing different functions, it has what Volkswagen calls the main menu carousel, a set of icons that slide across the screen until you see the function you want and tap it.

The center LCD responds to proximity and gestures.
The center LCD responds to proximity and gestures. CNET Networks

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