I recently told you about my love / hate (mainly hate) relationship with an old Audi TT I bought for my girlfriend’s 30th birthday. After spending good money chasing and fixing problems, a recent broken steering rack was the final nail in the coffin, and so the car was sold to be used for parts.
The next thing to do, then, was to find a replacement, and because I wanted my girlfriend to have something with some semblance of reliability, I’d set myself a ‘lofty’ budget of £4000.
A BMW 120i cabriolet was a strong contender for a few days until we realised that insuring the thing at our new place was £900 (and that with five years NCD!), meaning that my focus went straight back to cheap and cheerful shitboxes. But then I remembered that this wasn’t a Car Throttle video, and that I needed to buy something decent.
That’s when I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment, because what I did next was simply groundbreaking: I asked my girlfriend what she actually wanted from a car. I was furnished with answers unfamiliar to me, but not outside the realms of possibility: ‘heated seats, nippy in town, cheap to run and practical’ were amongst them.
And so the real hunt began. A Lupo GTi would have been wonderful, but it’s old now, likely expensive to insure and doesn’t have heated seats. A Kia Picanto came to mind, but then I remembered the Volkswagen Up which, I was sure, came with heated seats in certain guises (called the ‘High Up’ exclamation mark). Bingo!
A short while later, I found the car – a three-door manual with 52,000 miles on the clock, two former owners and a lot of service history. An HPI check revealed it hadn’t been stolen, written off etc, and the private seller wanted £3795 which, for a car of this condition, was not unreasonable.
A couple of days later, we inspected the car, and after driving it and finding a few faults (rear tyres that needed replacing, a faulty boot switch and a clutch release bearing that will need changing at some point), we agreed on £3450. Result.
Fast forward a few days, and the Up has been the perfect new daily driver. From my girlfriend’s perspective, she loves the extra visibility, manoeuvrability and ease of parking, while I’m enjoying the non-turbo, three-cylinder’s thrummy engine note and seeing 50mpg in town. What’s more, this is a car that sits in insurance group 1 and which costs £20 a year to tax (newer Ups with stop-start don’t cost anything to tax).
It’s light, nimble and good fun to drive, too, and I’m a fan of the sleek interior and exterior design. Yes, it looks like a fridge, but it’s easy on the eyes. It does need some wheels and perhaps some racing stripes to jazz it up, though, so I’d welcome your thoughts on that (and yes, I have asked my girlfriend’s permission).
For now though, my Audi TT-stained driveway has an awesome new family member and one I’d 100% recommend to anyone looking for something small and in the same price bracket.
I’ll be keeping you abreast of life with a cheap and cheerful Up, so let me know what questions you have about it!
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