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Volkswagen Up GTI — long-term review
Can’t be many Ups out there, let alone GTIs, that have done nigh-on 10,000 miles in their first six months on the road. Ours did, though, making it briefly one of the most driven cars in the TopGear office. And, save for an altercation with a particularly mean manhole cover that burst two tyres and ruined the alloys (see Report 3), it didn’t put a foot wrong.
So we’ve done miles. We’ve driven it fast, slow and everything in between. Ran it up against a normal Up, to see whether it’s worth the additional outlay (result: debatable). There was one more thing we wanted to do with it before VW reclaimed it, though, and that was drive it alongside the next GTI up the ladder – the Polo.
As you spend more money, you expect things to get more serious. More handling, more performance and, ultimately, more fun. In some respects, the Polo delivers – it’s a bigger step up over a regular Polo than the Up GTI is over a regular Up. More suspension and powertrain work have gone into making it a proper hot hatch.
It is objectively superior to the Up, of course, but it’s too serious. To an extent, this is a problem the Polo GTI has suffered from for decades – alongside playful rivals like the Ford Fiesta ST, it feels just a bit too adult.
That’s the thing with the Up – it treads the line between grown-up refinement and childish fun beautifully. It’s the best city car on the motorway by a mile (though not as good as a regular Up…), and more fun than the Polo day to day. Hardly the most dynamically capable, and it really is a pity you can’t turn off the excitable traction control without pulling a fuse, but amusing and excellent all the same.
We’ve enjoyed running it very much, and will miss it immensely.