Living and working in France for much of the year means that of late, my exposure to the Lupo has been in fairly short bursts, but I am relieved to say that is at an end. I did take the car to France last year for a few months in winter for practical reasons but now for the next two months or so of Englishman-melting Marseille weather it is purely for the thrill of driving.
And the Lupo has had a very busy time since she was taken out of the garage two weeks ago. First order of business was some new pads and after discovering a bad vibration under braking I suspected the discs might be gone too. I contacted the local dealer that had carried out both my services, Trust VW in Stourbridge, for a quote. They wanted £125 for just the pads, which I wasn’t too happy with, and on a tip off from my Dad I contacted a West Midlands VW specialist, VW Rescue instead.
The car was booked in early one morning, they confirmed that the discs were gone and rang to confirm before doing the work. The car was ready by mid afternoon. It was simple, friendly, hassle free service. When my GTI goes out of warranty a year from now I will use them for my services, without a doubt. And the cost was only £210 for new front pads and discs and two hours labour. The fact that not only are they cheap, but also very obviously true VW enthusiasts, means I am happy for them to look after my Lupo.
After that, the little GTI was rarely given much of a break: London, Oxford, Cardiff, Birmingham and everywhere in between were covered, and the car just sucked it up, presumably happy that it was getting used. Over a 1,000 miles of Motorways and B-Roads were demolished and once again I was reminded just what a jack of all trades this little car is. I’d forgotten the eager revvy nature of the 1.6, and just what a joy of an engine it can be with the stereo and air-con off, attacking my favourite bit of Shropshire road, the B4368. After driving such a road and taking a breather, I still cannot believe that this sort of fun cost less than £15,000. And now Lupo GTIs can be had for as little as £5,000, there is simply no excuse for not giving one a go.
To top it off, we had to tackle almost 1,000 miles of French Autoroute over the bank holiday weekend. While still on our side of the channel, heading down to Dover, there were people gathering on the bridges over the M20, waving frantically. Puzzled by this as yet unheard of roaming band of Lupo GTI fans I carried on, giving the odd confused flash of the Xenon’s back. It was only after I was passed by a Murcielago, Ford GT and F430 in full Gumball livery that I disappointingly realised I was not the star of the day.
However, I tell myself they can’t have been having as much fun as me, a pack of exotic supercars covered in orange stickers is a sure fire way of attracting the unique charm of the French Police, whereas a dark grey city car/hot hatch is the perfect stealth weapon for covering large distances through France at high speed. That said, the tiny fuel tank does become a bit of an issue; between the West Midlands and Marseille requires around 5 fuel stops, so maybe the Lupo isn’t quite cut out for the Gumball after all…