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Volkswagen Lupo GTI (2001 - 2004)

SMALL BUT PERFECTLY WARMED (some text hidden)

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introductionword count: 128

Volkswagen's Lupo GTi seemed a slightly odd concept at first. Imbuing a tiny citycar with premium hot hatch-style fitments and saddling it with a hefty price tag of around £13,000 didn't appear a winning formula. After all, the canny buyer could find a fully fledged hot hatch for about the same money and despite its sporting accoutrements, the Lupo GTi always smacked of more show than go, And so it proved. Whenever I see one on the road I automatically scan the number plate to see if it reads Volkswagen Press Office and it often does, journalists in press cars counting for a decent percentage of all UK Lupo GTi road miles. If you can track an honest used example down, you should at least ensure some exclusivity.

Modelsword count: 7

Models Covered: (3dr hatch 1.6 petrol [GTI])

Historyword count: 156

The Lupo was launched back in 1997 but the GTi didn't debut until 2001. In the interim, the range had been fleshed out by diesel and Sport variants and by the time the GTi made its entrance, the Lupo was no longer new news. The weighty price tag didn't help either, many realising that better value was to be found in Volkswagen's sister marques, Skoda and SEAT. To put the 125bhp Lupo GTi into some frame of reference, it costs a good deal more than the bigger 150bhp SEAT Ibiza FR. In other words, you really had to be seduced by the chunkily good looking styling of the Lupo to pay that sort of money. A few were and used examples are now appearing in a trickle. In April 2002 the Lupo GTi gained a sixth gear although few who drove the five speed car complained. In May 2003 the car became Euro IV emissions compliant.

What You Getword count: 295

In order to befit the GTi badge and plump sticker price, the Lupo's interior was given a makeover, with colour-keyed sports seats and belts, coordinated metal pedals, a chubby leather-trimmed steering wheel, the obligatory chrome ringed dials and a slightly dubious GTI gearknob. Otherwise it's standard Lupo, itself no bad thing. Instead of the usual Citycar fare, the German designers decided on silver-rimmed Italianate twin instrument dials featuring Allen bolts and soothing blue backlighting at night. It would look so good cruising at night in Berlin that for a moment you envy the Germans until you remember their unusual hairstyles and penchant for manmade fibres. The Lupo GTI wouldn't qualify as a citycar if it had blotted its copybook with poor economy figures, and the Volkswagen doesn't disappoint. Despite offering lively performance, the Lupo turns in a combined figure in excess of 40mpg, and will return nearly 30mpg in stop and start urban traffic. This is surely the environment the Lupo GTI will inhabit, fulfilling a role as the second quickest thing across the city centre after a pizza moped. Its compact dimensions naturally make parking simplicity and the quick steering give almost unrivalled manoeuvrability. What marks the Lupo out as something special is the sheer attention to detail everywhere you look. The panels are separated by shutlines so tight they look like scribed details, and everything is screwed together with just the same kind of quality you'd find in a £25,000 Volkswagen Passat. The expensively textured dash plastics, the soft-return grab handles, the standard seat and wheel height adjustment are all indicative of more prestigious fare. In fact were it not for the proximity of your front seat passenger, you could be forgiven for thinking you were driving a car in the Golf class.

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Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Sporting Cars

Performance
70%
Handling
70%
Comfort
40%
Space
40%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

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