A front-wheel drive architecture will undoubtedly lower the cost of the vehicle's development as it will allow for a much larger use of already-designed parts and will surely let VW use architecture from its Lupo small car. Still, that platform-sharing doesn't seem to be speeding up the development too much as it is now five full months behind schedule.
Hatchback, minivan and sedan versions of the platform are expected to begin sales in Europe in 2011, a full two years after rivals such as the Fiat Topolino and Toyota's iQ model are to go on sale. We have hopes that the up! will make it stateside, though the new FWD format surely makes them considerably less compelling to many eyes, ours included.
[Source: Automotive News – Sub. Req.]