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