I am conscious that whatever car I am driving it is probably someone’s dream vehicle – even if it is tiny.

So no surprise that Volkswagen’s compact city car, the up!, sits right at the top of the lust list of one of my nieces.

Its appeal to a 21-year-old is pretty obvious. As one of the smallest four-seater cars on the market, it is economical to run, easy to park and fitted with plenty of modern technology.

To ease Mum and Dad’s understandable concerns about young drivers, the up! also has a raft of safety features.

Built in Slovakia and lining up against rivals such as the Toyota Aygo, Citroën C1, Peugeot 107, Fiat 500 and Hyundai i10, the new-look up!, which is priced from about £9,100, has a redesigned exterior, new colours and a revised infotainment system.

To add to the fun factor, the car has more personalisation options with optional coloured alloy wheels and a two-tone roof.

And at the top of the range, a new 90 horsepower turbocharged petrol engine adds extra performance and more zip to the driving experience.

Though clearly designed for round-town driving, the up! is more than capable of covering longer distances. I took the car on a 300-mile round trip to Dorset where it soaked up plenty of motorway miles without stress, while recording fuel consumption topping 62mpg.

The up!’s dimensions are key to its success. Its overall length consists of short body overhangs, a long wheelbase and an unusually compact 9.8 metre turning circle.

Use of space inside the car, which is built in Bratislava, Slovakia, is excellent, with room for four adults and a surprisingly large boot which uses a clever double floor. When the rear seat is fully folded, cargo space increases to 959 litres.

Safety is also in the big-car class, with anti-lock brakes, four airbags, and electronic stability control as standard.

The city emergency braking system is a no-brainer £375 option, which at speeds of under 19mph detects the risk of an impending collision and can reduce accident severity and even avoid a crash altogether by automatically braking.

Power comes from a range of three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engines, with outputs of 60, 75 and 90 horsepower and a choice of four specifications. The test car came with a five-speed manual gearbox but an automatic is available.

The infotainment system has been redesigned on the latest up!. Your smartphone can now be docked in a cradle mounted on top of the dashboard and after downloading the ‘Maps + More’ app, the phone screen can be used as a display for everything from navigation and telephone to car information. If you are running low on fuel, it will even direct you to the nearest filling station.

Options are kept simple and divided into packs. City emergency braking comes with a front passenger’s airbag deactivation switch, automatic headlights with coming/leaving home lighting function and rain sensor. A winter pack adds heated front seats, electrically-heated and adjustable door mirrors and front fog lights and the cruise and park pack adds rear parking sensors, cruise control and a multifunction computer. 

And for those who dream of a small car with sports car punch, Volkswagen is adding a GTI model to the up! range. On sale early next year, the up! GTI is powered by a 115 horsepower 1.0-litre engine and will have similar performance figures to the celebrated Golf GTI Mk1.

Auto facts

Model: Volkswagen 1.0 75 PS High up!

Price: £13,935 as tested

Insurance group: 4E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 64.2mpg

Top speed: 106mph

Length: 360cm/141.7in

Width: 191cm/75.2in

Luggage capacity: 8.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 7.7 gallons/35 litres

CO2 emissions: 101 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles