Production-Ready Volkswagen Up! Due at 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show

The Volkswagen Up! has a quirky, charming name, but the small car is serious business for its Munich-based manufacturer and will be shown in full production trim at the Frankfurt Auto Show next year.

The Up! will eventually spawn a full lineup but the first models will be three-door hatchbacks with four seats, three-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, and manual and twin-clutch automatic transmissions, as Volkswagen sources told Automotive News Europe and Automobilwoche. These Up! cars are expected in European dealers in late 2011 and will be built in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Last year, we also caught a look of the E-Up! electric city car concept that will be among the first electric VWs to hit the market alongside a Golf and Jetta EV. The battery-equipped Up! is due in 2013.

Automobilwoche also asked Volkswagen brand development boss Ulrich Hackenberg about the possibility of a two-cylinder engine, ala the one used in the rivaling Fiat 500. Hackenberg's response was: "That [Fiat] is a beautiful engine as well."

During earlier stages of development, it's reported that Volkswagen was considering a rear-engine configuration in homage of the original Type 1, but stayed with the conventional front-engine layout for cost concerns. The Up! has been referred to as "the Beetle of the 21st Century" by the German automaker itself.

Pricing is expected to start at 10,000 euros, or around $14,100 according to current currency exchange rates. There has been no official announcement on a United States launch yet.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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