VW Up GTI: PH Fleet

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...

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

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Comments (86) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dafuq 10 Aug 2018

    Yes! Just......., Yes!

    May blow the dust off the now rarely used standard Up in my garage and chop in for one of these, for weekend blasts. The standard one is a hoot to rag so this will be next level.

  • oilit 10 Aug 2018

    congratulations to VW, they have succeeded in making me appreciate the crappy aftermarket screen that Mercedes insists on bolting on to the dashboard of its current lineup of A and C class type cars.

    What on earth is that piece of cr** that has been screwed on the top of the dash of this car? I am sorry, but that just screams of product marketing and finance battling about whats needed and the need to make sure it doesn't cost too much!

    The Mk1 Golf GTI would never have compromised itself in this way - it was on the whole a well engineered and aesthetically pleasing piece of kit internally (at least in my opinion !)


  • bozzy. 10 Aug 2018

    I must admit, I find the light weight and simplicity of this deeply appealing compared to the crop of over weight, over complicated and bloated ‘modern’ hot hatchbacks that are currently on the market. As devastatingly effective as they may be, I just feel they’ve lost touch with what the hot hatchback was originally all about. I’m sure I’d have much more fun throwing an Up! GTI down a tight and twisty B road, than something like a Golf GTI.

  • AshD 10 Aug 2018

    I’ve had mine since the end of March to do my 22 mile each way commute into Milton Keynes. It’s not the most sophisticated thing, but for the money absolutely, stunningly good.

    Drive it like Miss Daisy and you’ll get 60mpg, rag it and you’ll get around 45mpg. And whilst flying around the Milton Keynes racetrack you have to rag it! It’s so much fun to drive. Just wish it had another 15bhp and it’d be perfect.

    I’ve had some pretty nice cars in the past (Elise, V8 esprit, 997, Tesla) and though obviously completely different i have a very similar emotional connection with it as i did those.

    Just get one... if you can. I was very lucky - bought one the dealer already had on order at the end of Jan. Red, black roof, 5 door and had camera, sensors and cruise retrofitted.

    VW have done a fab job on this one - for this money I don’t think you can get a more fun new car.

  • ukaskew 10 Aug 2018

    Im not suggesting average folk on forums know better than manufacturers and marketing departments, but the demand is a surprise to nobody but VW it seems. People have been asking for warm, cheapish, fun city segment cars for ages since the demise of that niche.

    oilit said:
    What on earth is that piece of cr** that has been screwed on the top of the dash of this car? I am sorry, but that just screams of product marketing and finance battling about whats needed and the need to make sure it doesn't cost too much!
    A phone mount that connects to the car via bluetooth and gives you a trip computer, navigation etc via an app. It may not look great but a) who cares, and b) it's significantly more practical and hopefully longer lasting than a sub-standard baked in device. I have an original Citigo and it's a bespoke Garmin device or nothing, fine at first but not when it breaks and they don't make them anymore (or charge a fortune if they do)

    Edited by ukaskew on Friday 10th August 08:19

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