You might recall that when Volkswagen's 115hp Up GTI went on sale last year, demand for right-hand-drive models was much higher than expected. So much higher in fact that the manufacturer had to temporarily close the UK order books just six months in. 1,451 GTIs were ordered in those early months, meaning the model represented 17 per cent of all Up sales for the whole year. Resounding affirmation of VW's decision to badge the car as a GTI (word is that not everyone was onboard with the idea), but bad news for anyone wanting a downsized hot hatch in time for Christmas.
Consequently, today's announcement that sales have now re-opened ought to go down well; as will VW's assurances that it has maximised the possible supply of right-hand drive Up GTIs. The returning sub 1.1-tonne car remains available in three and five door forms, with 115hp and 148lb ft of torque from its turbocharged three-pot sufficient to hit 62mph in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 122mph. The one difference for 2020 that might hurt those who weren't able to snap up a GTI last year is a lift in price, with the new starting figure now £15,895 - £2k more than before.
The near 15 per cent hike in price obviously incorporates a larger step-up than inflation alone can account for (its popularity has clearly left an impression on Volkswagen) although it's worth pointing out that it's still comfortably cheaper than something like a Ford Fiesta ST-Line, which is three grand more in 100hp format. A Suzuki Swift Sport is still £18k. The latter has the overall performance advantage, but evidently there's more demand for tiny, well-specced, German-made city cars than lightweight hot hatches from Japan.
Indeed, VW has bolstered the availability of exactly that sort of Up variant with the addition of a new R-Line trim, which talks the talk with 17-inch wheels - the same diameter as the GTI's - black exterior details and bumpers specific to the trim. The Up R-Line even gets lowered suspension and a higher specification cabin, so you'd imagine that some buyers who would have otherwise gone for the GTI might be tempted. If they're not concerned about GTI bragging rights, the R-Line saves a healthy sum, starting at £14,280.