Es­sex mo­tor­ing

Volk­swa­gen up! GTI: a pocket rocket to sock it to ’em

Essex Life - - INSIDE - WORDS: Andy Rus­sell

The say­ing, ‘All the best things come in lit­tle pack­ages,’ could have been coined for Volk­swa­gen’s most po­tent up! – the new GTI. Take a ca­pa­ble, char­ac­ter­ful city car, add a beefed-up tiny turbo petrol en­gine, a por­tion of po­tency, a splash of sporti­ness, turn up the heat and you have your­self a tasty treat.

Volk­swa­gen says this ju­nior GTI is the spir­i­tual suc­ces­sor to the orig­i­nal Golf GTI – which started the hot hatch craze in 1976 – in terms of size, weight and per­for­mance. It’s cer­tainly got the mak­ings on an­other GTI cult clas­sic.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

The ul­ti­mate up! picks up

GTI styling touches and looks crack­ing, es­pe­cially in Tor­nado Red. That means you get dou­ble black side stripes, red trim strips, 17in black and sil­ver Oswald al­loy wheels fill­ing the arches, sports bumpers and side skirts, red front brake cal­lipers, gloss black door mir­rors and tail­gate spoiler, plus tra­di­tional tar­tan Jacara seat fab­ric.

UN­DER THE BON­NET

The 115PS 1.0-litre, three­cylin­der turbo petrol en­gine gives a good shunt of torque from 2,000rpm for flex­i­ble, low-down punchy per­for­mance. Once rolling, it revs ea­gerly ac­com­pa­nied by a throaty en­gine note, but can still av­er­age 50 to 55mpg.

HOW IT DRIVES

De­signed for the city, the stan­dard up! gen­er­ally rides well, but those smart 17in al­loys and 15mm lower sports sus­pen­sion

don’t do the low-speed ride any favours. It’s firm and thumps and bumps over poor roads, but smoothes out and is a ca­pa­ble cruiser.

It han­dles like a go kart, with the wheels pushed out to the cor­ners, stick­ing to the road and flick­ing through twists and turns with a flat stance and di­rect, re­spon­sive steer­ing.

SPACE AND COM­FORT

Four adults – it seats only two in the back – can man­age rea­son­able jour­neys without be­ing cramped or com­plain­ing about head­room. The five-door model, ex­pected to take 60% of sales, means you don’t need to be a con­tor­tion­ist to get into the back.

The boot has a sill-level floor panel to open up the full 251 litres – fold­ing the 60/40 split seat backs flat frees up 959 litres.

The fuss-free fas­cia, with a full-width red and black pat­terned panel, gloss black trim and bright high­lights, is dom­i­nated by a large speedo, with inset driver in­for­ma­tion dis­play, flanked by a small rev counter and fuel gauge.

You can raise and lower the driver’s seat, but the steer­ing wheel only goes up and down.

FI­NAL SAY

If you want a lit­tle car that’s big on fun, but with small run­ning costs, Volk­swa­gen has nailed it with the up! GTI.

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