the prototype drive in the Up GTI from late last year; now it's official with the car due to be revealed in public at next week's Worthersee Treffen in front of thousands of cheery and (probably) beery VW fans. And, yes, those comparisons to the Mk1 Golf GTI are rather irresistible, given the Up GTI's comparable size, modest 115hp output and sub-tonne kerbweight. In a world where hot hatches now pack 300hp-plus, electronically controlled differentials, variable dampers and even ceramic brakes this could be considered a refreshing breath of fresh air and a return to the core values of simplicity, light weight and back to basics fun. Let's hope so.
What's changed since that prototype drive? Well ... we don't know yet because we haven't driven it. But it's got the same three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox, the same 115hp and 147lb ft of torque, the same boxy looks and retro GTI embellishments and the same 15mm ride height drop and suspension upgrades over the regular Up. The devil will be in the detail of calibration and only apparent once we get to drive a full production example but the signs have to be encouraging, especially if VW nails the price point and makes sure affordability is another hot hatch tradition to be maintained.
Renault Twingo GT and undercutting that car's Brabus Smart ForFour equivalent, which costs £17,080. These closely-related twins share the unusual rear-engined, rear-driven layout and appeal to a similar audience, other alternatives including the Vauxhall Adam S and entry-level versions of the Abarth 595, which offers 145hp for £15,260.
But for junior true hot hatch cred we'd be hoping for a successor to the Suzuki Swift Sport we've been enjoying on the PH Fleet. OK, so the Up GTI will be turbocharged and that prototype drive suggests it might not match the undiluted response of the Suzuki's naturally-aspirated engine. But the new (also turbocharged Swift) is on its way and if the Up GTI inherits the Swift's sense of fun it could well become the go-to pocket rocket of choice and the most serious baby hot hatch in the sector. And in that sense VW really would be maintaining tradition it so successfully started over 40 years ago. Here's hoping.