Time to leave France

lupogti5_3_4920abdcd90c4-lightboxAnd so the Lupo was charged with yet another mission this month: removals. Let’s face it, we were never going to get the big stuff in; VW just didn’t design the car to transport sofa beds and desks, but you’d be amazed at what the car can swallow.Putting my practical hat on for a moment, the seats fold extremely neatly creating a pretty respectable load area that’s almost flat. Anyone who has even merely taken a glance at a Lupo will know that it doesn’t look like it has a large boot, and that impression is correct; it’s tiny.

Seats down, a fair chunk of stuff (see picture), including a large TV, went in the car. Its handling was a little iffy, but as it’s mostly dead flat autoroute for most of the way, that wasn’t really a problem.

Within days of returning to our Fair Isle the Lupo was booked in for its third visit to the dealers as service indicator had been flashing for longer than I’d have liked. After having received some distinctly average customer service, namely reluctance to get some niggles sorted out under warranty, I decided to try out another Midlands VW dealer other than Stourbridge VW. A few months back, I’d test driven the new Polo GTI at Birmingham Volkswagen and so I thought it worth checking out their after sales service.

The service and brake fluid change only took a couple of hours and I waited, giving me ample opportunity to lust over a fully loaded Candy White Mk5 Golf GTI. I’d asked them to look at three little niggles that I figured would be easy to fix; sadly a lack of parts on two of those problems meant I had to return a week later for them to be rectified. They also found that the rear offside shock absorber was broken (those Marseille streets won in the end!) and without quibble ordered the parts and arranged for it to be done on my next visit. This is of course exactly how it should work, and its good to hear that VW (at least at Birmingham VW) are returning to basic good customer service. Cost was £261.

And so a week later I returned, on the hottest July day since 1911, they had even allowed all the mechanics and technicians in the workshop to come in beach wear! Once again, the job was done pretty swiftly, although longer than the service due to the work replacing the offending suspension part.

My other original three niggles, a ‘sagging’ passenger door, broken drivers side seat pull (my temporary fix from a couple of Journals ago didn’t hold) and a very delicate feeling bonnet release catch were all taken care of without a hitch. The bonnet release is a known fault on the Lupo, and on the GTI if the cable snaps it can be a pain to fix. To any owners I’d say if your car’s still in warranty and the release feels slack, get the lock and cable replaced. Top marks and thanks to Chris Padgett, who managed the work on my car for both visits. Sadly, that day went downhill from there. On the way home I pulled to the side of the road to take a phone call (unlike everyone else in this country) and parked up neatly, and I might add, well out of the way, on the forecourt of a Ford dealer. A lady in a Ford Focus then decided that reversing out of the dealer, rather than doing a three point turn, would be more challenging and instead of heading for the perfectly acceptable bus-sized gap, she backed into my front bumper instead.

She was very sorry of course, and details were exchanged and many more apologies expressed after that. Damage was fairly minor, nasty scratches, a crack in the front bumper, and luckily for her wallet she narrowly missed one of the aluminium front wings, but it’s a heart sinking feeling and I can’t wait to get it fixed. I’ll let you know how that goes in my next Journal.

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Andrew Woodall