VW Up GTI pro­to­type drive


By to­day’s hot- hatch stan­dards, 113bhp and 0- 62mph in 8.8 sec­onds sounds pretty snooze­wor­thy. But don’t dis­miss the new Up GTI on the stats alone – this lit­tle car adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

evo was in­vited to drive a pre- pro­duc­tion ver­sion at a test ses­sion with Volk­swa­gen board mem­bers in South Africa, and we came away smil­ing.

Let’s start with the en­gine. By ad­ding a high- pres­sure turbo to the lit­tle three- cylin­der mo­tor and up­ping the com­pres­sion ra­tio, throt­tle re­sponse is sur­pris­ingly sharp. The noise piped through the speak­ers via a sound ac­tu­a­tor is perky if not throaty, but it’s aug­mented by an au­di­ble whoosh from that turbo.

Sec­ond gear is a bit too long for our lik­ing (cue engi­neers shrug­ging shoul­ders, sigh­ing and curs­ing CO2 re­quire­ments), but the six- speed man­ual gear­box is slick enough, if a lit­tle long in the throw.

Although our test was on long, straight roads, the odd bend re­vealed the Up’s steer­ing to be fairly weighty and rea­son­ably di­rect, thanks to parts of the rack hav­ing been taken from the Polo. The up­rated brakes also come from the Up’s big­ger brother.

Sur­pris­ingly, given the car’s dinky di­men­sions, a ride- height drop of 15mm and sports sus­pen­sion, the lit­tle GTI rode very well over some pretty de­crepit roads. It felt ma­ture, much in the way a Golf GTI does. And while it may not have the ul­ti­mate poise of the great­est hot hatches, it has the po­ten­tial to brighten up even the most mun­dane of jour­neys.

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