Volkswagen Up GTI - official

Given the obvious temptations on the spec sheet it will prove physically impossible for any motoring media outlet to reference the new Up GTI without comparing it to the original 1976 Golf GTI. Oops, there we go already... Almost like they planned it, isn't it?

Prototype makes production!
Prototype makes production!
You may recall 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.

Three-door too - hurrah!
Three-door too - hurrah!
To do that it would need to hit the £15,000 mark suggested by our colleagues at Autocar, this putting the Up GTI on equal terms with the 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.


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Comments (153) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Fetchez la vache 19 May 2017

    Rather like the look of that... smile

  • Uncle Ron 19 May 2017

    It looks really cool but it's less powerful than the old Lupo GTI - should have pipped that at the very least.

    I'll wait for the Mid-Engined Clubsport S version.

  • Turbobanana 19 May 2017

    It won't matter what it drives like: it has 2 badges on the back that will ensure it sells well - "VW" & "GTI". I suspect that will be enough for the target demographic.

  • dxg 19 May 2017

    Are those rear drums?

    As a Lupo GTI owner, I'm not impressed. The Lupo stood out by all the subtle (different body shell for the rear arches, for example) changes that were made. This is just wheels and suspension...

  • C7 JFW 19 May 2017

    A sensible fast car that quite a few people will be able to afford. It's got a VW badge so it might not fall to bits and will no doubt be excellent fun to drive.

    Good show VW.

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