RE: VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

RE: VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

Friday 14th December 2018

VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

The Up's place in GTI history is a matter of opinion. Strong opinion...



Even with half a year chalked on the PH Fleet chalk board, the Up GTI is a source of constant discussion in the office. In one corner we merrily talk up the virtues of its size, usability and off-the-scale about-town liveliness, while in the other corner Matt Bird bellyaches about how no-one has noticed that the quickest Up is in fact neither one thing nor the other, and is therefore about as deserving of its hallowed badge as a Nissan Primera.

Naturally we all roll our eyes and throw up our hands and apologise on Volkswagen's behalf for its failure to build his nibbs a downscaled Golf R for the monthly cost of a mobile phone SIM card. But, as ever, the histrionics and tribunal-level name calling mask the lingering concern that Matthew might have himself the kernel of a valid point. The Up GTI is very likeable indeed and easier to live with than cotton underwear. But a bonafide successor to something like a Peugeot 106 Rallye S1? Not so much.


The counter argument, of course, is that it was never meant to be. On the universal scale of hatchback hotness, Volkswagen rarely aims for magma - it wants to be swift and sophisticated and sure. Where others might see compromise, Wolfsburg sees a middle way. And if you want to see how far it has come, you need a more appropriate benchmark. Something middlebrow, something a bit everyman... something like the Mk2 Seat Ibiza Cupra Sport GTI, for example.

Now, if we're honest, the red devil pictured was not originally sent to us to play foil to the Up, but the comparison is all but irresistible - not least because the three-door supermini of yesteryear is hardly any larger than what the industry now calls a city car. (Certainly its modest advantage in length is not to the particular benefit of its occupants, given that most of it is contained in what now seems like a colossal front overhang.)


Of course you need a bit of room when you've got, oh, about 400 different flavours of four-cylinder engine to accommodate. Lest we forget, the second generation Ibiza was the first car Seat produced with Volkswagen calling the shots, and while it maybe Giorgetto Giugiaro on top, it is very much the stock A03 platform underneath - the same front-drive architecture that underpinned the famously tepid Mk3 Polo.

That didn't prevent it from being casually lobbed a GTI badge though. After all, the parent company wanted to see some return on its investment in 'Latin flair' and chucked in the larger petrol engines for good measure. The pre-facelift model you really want is the 150hp 2.0-litre petrol engine boasting 16 (count 'em) valves and 130lb ft of torque. The brand's heritage car though is the 8v version with 115hp - and while that's undeniably not quite as good, it does make it an even match for the output whistling from the Up's half-as-big three-pot.


Or it does on paper, at least. On the road, it's a walkover. The newer car is quicker than even its half second advantage in 0-62mph time suggests. No prizes for guessing its secret - the Ibiza's longer gearing and 26lb ft deficit in peak twist tells its own story - yet it hardly describes the difference in delivery. True, the Cupra's naturally-aspirated motor was never the liveliest 2.0-litre unit in the world, but its flywheel seems all the more leaden when measured against theresponsive 1.0-litre TSI.

And it's not all about accessibility either - you'd expect that from a modern turbocharged engine - it's the way the Up manages to makes its coiled-spring reaction to the accelerator pedal seem like fun that takes the biscuit. Partly it's about the warble, of course, and a general lack of mass, but it's also about the zappy, gap-finding pleasure of making progress instantly. The Ibiza needs winding up like a grandfather clock if you want the best from it. The Up is solid-state.


It's a similar story on the handling front. The front-heavy Cupra wasn't built to be on a knife-edge either, yet its softness feels every bit twenty years-old with a 21st century equivalent in the foreground. The Up might be made to wilt in the face of something less compromising, but its change of direction is a model of composure in comparison.

The lesson? Time marches on. Obvious perhaps in the wider world, but occasionally forgotten when it comes to cars and the not so distant past, where we've started assuming everything was as glorious as an E39 M5. Had we plucked a mint condition 106 or second generation Suzuki Swift Sport from the historical pile, it might have been a different story - but compared to the Ibiza, a nineties hot hatch with the same onus on ease-of-use and genial speed, the Up feels like a quantum leap forward.


Does that make it anymore deserving of the GTI badge than the Cupra? Well, there we return to the sticky wicket. Matt would argue that a better standard of middle way is still too far from the genuinely exciting end of the hot hatch scale, and that simply being the best and quickest Up does not automatically confer classic status. That's hard to dispute. It is not a GTI which insists on the long way home or stolen Sunday afternoons. But for the road most travelled, for easing the everyday grind and mildly spicing a commute - while barely troubling a bank account or width restriction - its appeal could hardly be broader. Or warmer.


FACT SHEET
Car:
Volkswagen Up GTI
On fleet since: August 2018
Run by: Dafydd Wood
List price new: Β£14,055 (As tested Β£16,005 comprising Deep Black paint (Β£520), Vodafone Protect and Connect 6 (Β£485), City Emergency Braking Pack (Β£380), Cruise and Park Pack (Β£300), Climate Control (Β£265)
Last month at a glance: What's in a name?

Previous reports:
PH gets All Fired Up about the latest Fleet arrival
When is a GTI not a GTI? When it's an Up!
Getting a leg Up on the competition
Pondering room for improvement









Author
Discussion

Kawasicki

Original Poster:

6,219 posts

180 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I reckon the big wheels and super low profile tyres on the Up are part of the reason it changes direction in a more composed manner. On a bumpy, twisty B road the Ibiza has no chance.


suffolk009

3,987 posts

110 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Will there ever be an Up! R?

iandc

2,464 posts

151 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
how about an "Up!URs"?

DaveTheRave87

1,345 posts

34 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
suffolk009 said:
Will there ever be an Up! R?
I'd love to see an up! GTI Clubsport.

2 bucket seats with half cage and harness bar and about 130bhp.

Mike1990

706 posts

76 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Guess that’s progress for you.

Augustus Windsock

1,762 posts

100 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I’m probably going to be a lone voice in the wilderness but I actually like the Up! for what it is.
With today’s road infrastructure getting more and more crowded, and the proliferation of speed cameras becoming like an arms race, surely we should appreciate the small footprint the Up! takes up, and the fact that it’s easier to drive it at 8-9 tenths than a Golf GTi, a 911 or similar.
I must admit to a secret liking for them, and I’d consider one in 3yrs time when depreciation has bitten them..

ilovequo

723 posts

126 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Interiors have come a long way!

DaveTheRave87

1,345 posts

34 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Augustus Windsock said:
I’m probably going to be a lone voice in the wilderness but I actually like the Up! for what it is.
With today’s road infrastructure getting more and more crowded, and the proliferation of speed cameras becoming like an arms race, surely we should appreciate the small footprint the Up! takes up, and the fact that it’s easier to drive it at 8-9 tenths than a Golf GTi, a 911 or similar.
I must admit to a secret liking for them, and I’d consider one in 3yrs time when depreciation has bitten them..
You're not the only one.

I may have a less than secret liking for it, and it may have bitten me before depreciation bit it. And you're not having this one in 3 year time!


jonm01

779 posts

182 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
Any chance of these being on a 'too good to turn down' lease deal?

jason61c

3,148 posts

119 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
what are they like on the motorway? whats the MPG like?

DaveTheRave87

1,345 posts

34 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
jason61c said:
what are they like on the motorway? whats the MPG like?
It's quite noisy on the motorway but not too bad. A decent bit of wind noise around the door pillars and a faint burble from the sound actuator.

MPG's great, I'm doing 5 miles of stop-start city traffic and 5 miles of motorway and averaging high 40s a trip with no effort to drive economically.

andrewparker

3,693 posts

132 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
jason61c said:
what are they like on the motorway? whats the MPG like?
No idea about motorway MPG but I've averaged 39mpg on my first full tank of mainly urban driving and short commutes.

It's a really infectious little thing, the only downside at the moment being that it seems to attract idiots.

Gratuitous photo below biggrin


greenarrow

1,711 posts

62 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all

I like the Up, a lot! Bit unfair on the Seat however, which was only a warm hatch at best, even back in 1998.

I'd like to see how the Up would cope with a 106 GTI on a cross country drive however. I suspect it would struggle to keep up, even with 20 years of suspension and tyre development.

However, I think the Up is just what's needed for a fun drive in 2018.

PistonBroker

1,751 posts

171 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I'm another one who has a soft spot for the Up! GTI.

Our 2nd car is an R53 MINI Cooper the M-i-L gave up driving a couple of years back and it's a nice change jumping out of the sensible Disco Sport on the odd occasion and chucking it about. It's a slushbox though and I'd rather be chucking it about whilst stirring the gears myself. Or chucking an Up! GTI around instead.

I bought a 94M Golf GTI with the same engine as the Seat back in '06 and I liked it. We ran an 00W Bora SE with the same lump at the same time as well. But I wouldn't have said either were particularly hot so this does seem a slightly odd comparison.

DoubleD

8,887 posts

53 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
the only downside at the moment being that it seems to attract idiots.



You shouldnt put yourself down like that

andrewparker

3,693 posts

132 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
andrewparker said:
the only downside at the moment being that it seems to attract idiots.



You shouldnt put yourself down like that
Have sent you an email. Hopefully we can behave like adults and discuss what I’ve done to deserve continued comments like this.

DoubleD

8,887 posts

53 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
DoubleD said:
andrewparker said:
the only downside at the moment being that it seems to attract idiots.



You shouldnt put yourself down like that
Have sent you an email. Hopefully we can behave like adults and discuss what I’ve done to deserve continued comments like this.
Youre the one who said that the car attracts idiot buyers not me.


Edited by DoubleD on Friday 14th December 21:24

andrewparker

3,693 posts

132 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
DoubleD said:
Youre the one who said that the car attracts idiot buyers not me.


Edited by DoubleD on Friday 14th December 21:24
With respect, I’ve emailed you to ask what I have done to offend you. You seem intent on knocking every comment I make on this site, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that. I have purposely avoided commenting on topics I have wanted to contribute to in order to dodge your disparaging remarks. I haven’t started a Readers Cars thread because you would derail it. So I’ll ask you again, what have I done to offend you?

Kawasicki

Original Poster:

6,219 posts

180 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
andrewparker said:
DoubleD said:
Youre the one who said that the car attracts idiot buyers not me.


Edited by DoubleD on Friday 14th December 21:24
With respect, I’ve emailed you to ask what I have done to offend you. You seem intent on knocking every comment I make on this site, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that. I have purposely avoided commenting on topics I have wanted to contribute to in order to dodge your disparaging remarks. I haven’t started a Readers Cars thread because you would derail it. So I’ll ask you again, what have I done to offend you?
Yeah DoubleD. Lay off a little.

DoubleD

8,887 posts

53 months

Friday 14th December 2018
quotequote all
I will be taking his dinner money next