I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while. Ever since Matt and I had a little wager on the prospect of an upcoming Up GTI - these are the kinds of things that preoccupy us at PH - the notion of a suitably warmed version of Volkswagen’s city car has excited me.
Anticipation levels increased further when the specs were announced. With 115hp and 147lb ft it would produce similar power to the Granddaddy of the modern hot hatch, the Mk1 Golf GTI. Though it would weigh rather more, VW had still kept it under 1,000kg, and its extra torque meant the Up would be slightly faster too.
While its forebear was at the cutting edge of hot hatch development, however, this car would be a welcome reprieve from the current arms race. All-wheel drive, DSG gearboxes and ever-increasing outputs, and price tags, were to be replaced with two driven wheels and a six-speed manual for what should be plenty of cheap and cheerful thrills.
The car has since arrived, of course, and it’s been very well received indeed. Nic branded it “just shy of bloody brilliant” when we put it head to head with a Mini back in March, and the enthusiasm of the press was matched by that of the public.
Demand was so high, in fact, that within just a few days of UK order books opening waiting times began to skyrocket. The situation worsened from there, with some dealers quoting backorders as long as a year before Volkswagen was forced to temporarily suspend sales in July until a plan to ease the backlog had been devised.
This is the backdrop against which ‘our’ Up GTI arrives, then. And with fewer on the roads than there should be, but the huge excitement still seemingly unabated by the lack of supply, it’s not a moment too soon either. So far it’s had a fairly inauspicious start, tagging along on our Bentayga shoot in Wales, and running the commute to and from the office, functioning more as an Up than a GTI.
That’ll all change soon, though, with plenty to discover about the junior hot hatch. Will the charm wear off during a longer period behind the wheel? Is it worth the premium over a standard Up? Would you be better off stretching to slightly higher priced alternatives? And how does it stack up against its chief competitor, the new Suzuki Swift Sport? If there’s anything you’re keen to discover, then let us know in the comments below and we’ll be sure to investigate over the next six months...
Car: Volkswagen Up GTI
On fleet since: August 2018
Run by: Dafydd Wood
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: The Up GTI arrives at PH in the midst of summer with plenty of potential to entertain over the next six months