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VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

From city slicker to motorway mile muncher for the Up this month

By Sam Sheehan / Friday, February 15, 2019

With the Fiesta ST gone from the fleet, responsibility passed to our Volkswagen Up GTI to transport me from London to Thirsk and back in a day. The trip, which was for our recent Twisted feature, was a 500-mile-round one, starting in the narrow confines of London and charging up the motorways of the Midlands before arriving amongst the fields and forests of North Yorkshire. Quite the task for a little 1.0-litre car, you'd think.

In all honesty, it was one I wasn't too excited about. After growing accustomed to the Fiesta's thick padded seats, surprisingly effortless engine and generous dimensions, the dinky little Up looked, well, underprepared. There can't be many Ups out there that embark on four-hour stints of motorway driving twice in one day.

But, as we know from the previous Up vs Up GTI comparison test, the GTI is in another league than you'd expect when it comes to refinement. On the northbound journey, it barely broke a sweat, sitting quite happily with the cruise set to outside lane pace and muscling its way along in convoy with far larger machines. In fact, in this setting it had much in common with the ST, with the triple ahead feeling like it was always on the boil, yet a trip readout of 53mpg was easily reachable.

Sure, in a 50-70mph sprint the ST would walk away with its stronger reserves of torque and quicker-spooling turbo, but at no point did the Up feel like it was close to its engine's limits. Quite the opposite actually. Perhaps this is evidence of Volkswagen having Autobahn'd its smallest GTI. Certainly the sure footedness of its comparably narrow tracks was an example of how it punches above its weight.

That being said, when we swap motorway for B-road, the Up can't as convincingly switch from a mature cruiser to adept country road hack, like the ST can. The GTI is quick and builds speed with real enthusiasm, but, as we've previously explained, its damping feels too soft and body control slightly too loose to be serious. Oh, and the gear shift is too vague when worked quickly. It's therefore not as satisfying as the ST, but at no point does it feel out of its depth. And that's important for a GTI.

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: Sam becomes the Grand Old Duke of York(shire) as he slogs up north in the Up

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