RE: VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

Friday 19th October 2018

VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

Fresh from a group test victory, the Up continues to impress



The fiercest action the Up GTI has seen this month was, of course, our triple test. This pitted it against rivals in the shape of the Mazda 2 GT Sport and Suzuki Swift Sport, with all three heading to Longcross Proving Ground to test their mettle (and metal).

I spent the couple of days beforehand in the Mazda, and agreed with Matt's prognosis that it provided a big car feel in a small car package. I didn't, however, necessarily agree that this was an entirely good thing. Compared to the diminutive Up the - supposedly lighter - Mazda felt sluggish and cumbersome off the line. Where the GTI's mid-range torque delivers sufficient zip in daily driving, the GT Sport, in true Japanese tradition, required plenty of revs to feel like it was giving you its best. Surprising as it may be, but plenty of revs are hard to come by during a city commute.


In the end the Up won, but only by default, really, which felt like a rather hollow victory. To be entirely honest, long-termer allegiance aside, my favourite was the Swift. [1] Yes it's expensive - though not terribly so, for the options it comes with as standard - and, no, it isn't as effervescent as its predecessor. That Suzuki held out with a naturally-aspirated model for so long was rightfully celebrated at the time, but to me it feels harsh to now hold the new model's inevitable forced-induction against it. It's a more broadly capable, better equipped and faster car than the VW. Then again, it ought to be for an extra £4,000. Too expensive, see... (return to [1] and repeat).

Anyway, back to the Up. Its minimalist frugality is one of its greatest strengths, and has really come to the fore in recent weeks. The genius of using your smartphone as the car's infotainment screen wasn't lost on me to begin with, but has been demonstrated even more clearly (literally) by my recent upgrade from iPhone 7 to XS. In the blink of an eye the Up's screen has transformed from a 4.7-inch 326ppi LCD to a 5.8-inch 458ppi OLED.


It's far better than the unit VW would have been able to provide at the price point, better even than the screens on many more premium models, and best of all completely future proof. Up GTI owners in 2025 will still be able to make use of the latest tech for at no additional cost - assuming we're not all using Apple-branded graphene-coated nano implants by then. If only Volkswagen would offer a dashtop mount with wireless charging built in, it would be perfect.

The Up has been economical, too. On the ride back from Retropower - which involved two hours of spirited countryside, mundane motorway and stop-start urban driving - it returned a healthy 53.5mpg. This was slightly better than Sam's Fiesta ST managed on the same trip, despite that car's ability to run on just two cylinders whilst cruising.


A quick word, too, on just how good it looks. I couldn't help but notice, as Matt pulled away in it one night, having made the exchange for the Mazda, the way the car slunk through the darkness, the street lights catching the pearly black paint and glinting off the polished wheels. For this price point it really is far more handsome than any of its competitors, and that will matter to some, especially as a city car.  

All in all then, it's been a pretty solid month, there have been no new complaints to speak of, but several plus points have been uncovered. There are likely to be new challenges for the Up as the winter months arrive, though, with plenty more time to be spent in the (thankfully heated) driver's seat. More on that next time.


FACT SHEET
Car:
Volkswagen Up GTI
On fleet since: August 2018
Run by: Dafydd Wood
Mileage: 5,617
List price new: £14,055 (As tested £16,005 comprising Deep Black paint (£520), Vodafone Protect and Connect 6 (£485), City Emergency Braking Pack (£380), Cruise and Park Pack (£300), Climate Control (£265)
Last month at a glance: GTI takes on all comers - wins! Sort of...

Previous reports:
PH gets All Fired Up about the latest Fleet arrival
When is a GTI not a GTI? When it's an Up!

 

Author
Discussion

Dale487

Original Poster:

843 posts

60 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
That sums up the Up GT, Mazda 2 & SSS test possibly better than the main article.

rtz62

1,577 posts

92 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
Must say these intrigue me.
If I were after a car for use around town, but one that could also make me smile on local B roads, then this would be it.

TWPC

579 posts

98 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
I couldn't agree with you more about the sense and logic of the Up/Citigo/Mii system of using a smartphone as the infotainment screen. I wish more car makers would do the same.
Can anyone tell me if they think this system works better or worse than using Apple Carplay or Android Auto through an integrated infotainment screen?

jaffa98

9 posts

10 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
My Wife has an UP GTI on order, every option was ticked and it's still half the price of her previous car. I'm quite looking forward to having a go in it.

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
jaffa98 said:
My Wife has an UP GTI on order, every option was ticked and it's still half the price of her previous car. I'm quite looking forward to having a go in it.
The deals are still pretty good on them. For instance a chap on the Up GTI Owners forum has just ordered a standard 3 door car for £13k. I ordered when the book opened, ticked every option bar parking sensors and paid £14.5k.
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Dale487

Original Poster:

843 posts

60 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
jaffa98 said:
My Wife has an UP GTI on order, every option was ticked and it's still half the price of her previous car. I'm quite looking forward to having a go in it.
Well conveniently one Golf GTI is about the price of two Up! GTs, which combined have about the same power & probably more fun to boot.

Pirahna

1 posts

3 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
Using a smartphone might seem like a good idea but it isn't: the mount isn't moveable, it would be nice to be able to angle it towards you a bit. The VW app is a worse then useless. It's very slow to load and although it should be possible to open the app indoors and kick the satnav off it's not, you need to be connected to the car. Voice doesn't work over the car sound system, you need to go into the bluetooth connection settings and uncheck the media box so voice directions come from the phone speaker. You can play mp3 files through the app but of course you've unchecked the box to play media through the car stereo. It's not compatible with other music apps, I've got a lot of offline music on Amazon Prime which can't be used. I haven't tried using a 3.5mm cable from the phone to the stereo yet. VW don't have USB C cables, you'll need to buy a suitably short one to use the USB charging port on the dash or wind a long one around the phone mount. The phone stuff does work properly unless you've unchecked to box in bluetooth settings to allow sound through the stereo, then you'll be relying on your phone speaker. The DAB radio is great but treat your phone as a stand alone gadget, not something that integrates with the car. The other thing that annoy's me about the Up is the intermittent wiper setting doesn't have a speed control.

neil1jnr

1,228 posts

92 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
Why did the Up win the group test by default if the consensus was the Swift was the favourite, and overall probably the better car? Also, the Up only managed to slightly better a new Fiesta ST in economy, relative to the ST's performance that is really rubbish isn't it?

You say the Swift is £4K more expensive, but in the group test, 'as tested' it was only £1,994 more expensive than the Up, so why not say £2K? I know you can get a base spec Up GTI cheaper, as the group test states, but then it would fall well short of the Swift surely?

I realise I might have a bee in my bonnet about the Up, but I don't think it really deserves the attention and praise it gets when some rivals are better.

Edited by neil1jnr on Friday 19th October 13:25

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
neil1jnr said:
I realise I might have a bee in my bonnet about the Up...
No s**t.

pb8g09

277 posts

6 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
neil1jnr said:
I realise I might have a bee in my bonnet about the Up...
No s**t.
Must admit, I don't think he's wrong though...?

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
andrewparker said:
neil1jnr said:
I realise I might have a bee in my bonnet about the Up...
No s**t.
Must admit, I don't think he's wrong though...?
Well for a start the article does not state that the general consensus was that the Swift was the favourite, it states that the Swift was this reviewers favourite.

The economy is similar to the ST, but as pointed out, the ST can run on 2 cylinders when cruising. Criticising a car for achieving 53.5mpg in mixed driving is a bit trivial. I also know that Up GTI owners are reporting getting high 60s on longer runs.

As for the cost, as tested it's probably sensible to deduct the tracker from the price of the Up, so here there is a £2500 difference on list prices, but we all know you can buy a Swift for £16500, or a base 3 door GTI for £13000. You can get all pedantic about options blah blah, but when it comes down to it the entry cost to driving the two is £3500 apart, which at this price point is a lot. I've said it elsewhere, Suzuki would have been better off offering a couple of trim levels and a much cheaper entry price instead of forcing a load of kits on buyers.

Re. the praise, in general what I've read online has been fairly balanced, in fact I can't recall reading one review that was particularly gushy about either the Up of the Swift, and I guess that's the problem, there isn't a clear winner, and perhaps the Up is winning these group tests because the reviewers are forming more of an emotional attachment to it.

pb8g09

277 posts

6 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
I also know that Up GTI owners are reporting getting high 60s on longer runs.

As for the cost, as tested it's probably sensible to deduct the tracker from the price of the Up, so here there is a £2500 difference on list prices, but we all know you can buy a Swift for £16500, or a base 3 door GTI for £13000. You can get all pedantic about options blah blah, but when it comes down to it the entry cost to driving the two is £3500 apart, which at this price point is a lot. I've said it elsewhere, Suzuki would have been better off offering a couple of trim levels and a much cheaper entry price instead of forcing a load of kits on buyers.

Re. the praise, in general what I've read online has been fairly balanced, in fact I can't recall reading one review that was particularly gushy about either the Up of the Swift, and I guess that's the problem, there isn't a clear winner, and perhaps the Up is winning these group tests because the reviewers are forming more of an emotional attachment to it.
If I was one of 'those guys' I'd ask you to prove that there are people getting high 60s...

I'd also point out why you'd deduct an option to be sensible to remove if they did actually spec that option.

I'd also point out that the Swift I'm guessing is cheaper to insure than the GTi which would eat into that £3.5k.

But..... I'm not going to because I don't want to argue. I would like to highlight however that it clearly shows there is a tight margin between the Swift and Up GTi given the reactions on this (and the original) thread that people have such difference in opinions.

I personally haven't driven either so I wouldn't poo-poo either of them, I just felt that PH had given the victory to the Up GTi over £2-4k (take your pick where the number lies) rather than it actually necessarily being the better car.

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
I personally haven't driven either so I wouldn't poo-poo either of them, I just felt that PH had given the victory to the Up GTi over £2-4k (take your pick where the number lies) rather than it actually necessarily being the better car.
The impression I get, from reading this and multiple other reviews is that both cars have flaws, and both are far from perfect. I haven't driven the Swift, and pretty much have no opinion on it other than the looks not appealing to me. I personally think the VW has more character, and whichever way you pitch it, is cheaper. As usual though, the forums here are awash with the customary anti-VW desperation.

Edited by andrewparker on Friday 19th October 15:50

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
I'd also point out that the Swift I'm guessing is cheaper to insure than the GTi which would eat into that £3.5k.
Changed the quote I have saved for when my Up GTI arrives to a SSS and it rose from £285 to £418. Not sure why you'd think a higher powered, more expensive car would be less to insure?

pb8g09

277 posts

6 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
As usual though, the forums here are awash with the customary anti-VW desperation.

Edited by andrewparker on Friday 19th October 15:50
As I live in a household with 2 VAG's I'm going to slink off quietly into the corner...

horsemeatscandal

386 posts

41 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
Everything I hear about the GTI just makes me want to not like it (poor gear change and little/no built-in infotainment, to name a couple). However, I think it has a certain draw that I can’t put my finger on and it makes me want to try one. And that’s coming from someone who has the previous Swift Sport and generally is averse to VWs.

Definitely on my radar for my next car. Hopefully by then they will have revised it and upped the power a bit.

pb8g09

277 posts

6 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
Changed the quote I have saved for when my Up GTI arrives to a SSS and it rose from £285 to £418. Not sure why you'd think a higher powered, more expensive car would be less to insure?
GTi badge and likely owner profile?

My S1 came in £200 less to insure than a MCS despite mine being more expensive and higher powered. There's more to it than that.

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
pb8g09 said:
andrewparker said:
Changed the quote I have saved for when my Up GTI arrives to a SSS and it rose from £285 to £418. Not sure why you'd think a higher powered, more expensive car would be less to insure?
GTi badge and likely owner profile? There's more to it than that.
Yeah, I get that. I guess, rightly or wrongly, that I'd still think that the SSS is equally desirable (if not for me personally). Weirdly a large proportion of the Up GTI Owners Club are senior gents. I'm at the younger end of the spectrum at 38, but many are in their sixties! I've seen very few young people show any interest in it, they're too occupied with badge and 0-60 times.

LB14

201 posts

145 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
Yeah, I get that. I guess, rightly or wrongly, that I'd still think that the SSS is equally desirable (if not for me personally). Weirdly a large proportion of the Up GTI Owners Club are senior gents. I'm at the younger end of the spectrum at 38, but many are in their sixties! I've seen very few young people show any interest in it, they're too occupied with badge and 0-60 times.
My 19 year old son has one on order. Black as in the article, but with the pano roof.

He’s itching for it to be delivered, it’s his first ‘performance’ car.

Only trouble is after ordering it in early Feb, it’s still 6 weeks from delivery - was originally due for delivery 1st September.

andrewparker

3,344 posts

124 months

Friday 19th October 2018
quotequote all
LB14 said:
Only trouble is after ordering it in early Feb, it’s still 6 weeks from delivery - was originally due for delivery 1st September.
Likewise, I ordered 36 weeks ago and looking at 5-6 weeks for mine after originally being told I’d get it in July! Tip, if he’s been confirmed at week 46 (12/11) then it is likely actually week 45. For some reason the app is showing dates a week later than the factory system.