★★★★☆Volkswagen Up GTi
Up and GTi Away
What Have We Got?
Volkswagen would have you believe that the Up is the successor to the original Golf GTi. In some ways it is. Its dimensions, kerb weight and performance align with those of the original 76 Golf. Golf is now too big to be as delicate as it once was. And Polo is also too big. So the Up now fills the void for a small, buzzy, fun machine to wear the GTi badge. But does this answer the critics who bemoan about the lack of a raw feeling GTi from VW?
There is something about the Up GTi that gets your pulse racing before you turn the key. Delicate red markings on the body and the GTi badges are very evident, likewise so too is the tartan type fabric from the original GTi that is now fitted to all VW GTi models.
Turn the key and the rorty little 1 litre 3-cylinder engine bursts into life. It contains 115PS. It might not sound a lot, but it sure does know how to use it. The controls are light and precise and the six gears are well spaced even if 6th really is longer legged than necessary for such a small car.
What it all makes for is a very engaging car and though it will max out at 122mph, it really is a great back road buzz box. It’ll do 70 in third and that’s rather useful. The only downside is the traction control system can’t be switched off. However, that doesn’t mean you can wheel spin the front wheels from a standstill.
The seat fabric aside, the Up to me is only ruined by the red and black facia panel. I didn’t like this and for a small car with cheap feel, it felt like it cheapened it.
Now don’t let the cheapness put you off. This is a new VW GTi for £14,000. It’s the lightness that makes it feel the more special in capturing the GTi magic of old. Remember, the original was a trendsetter and well built. The Up betters it but retains some of the raw light elements. That doesn’t, however, mean the doors twang when you shut them. It still sounds like a Golf.
Living With It
This Up GTi came in 5 door guise. There is more than enough room for 4 and a reasonable sized boot with a height-adjustable boot floor.
The dashboard layout is clear and visible and the ergonomics are perfect. Rear door trims lack the visual joys of those on the front with the absence of body trim.
The inability to switch the traction control off does mean it’s always a little bit too safe. Its limits are high and the fun factor even higher, it’s just a shame you can’t fully exploit it to its fullest.
You can see why many before have raved about it, I love it. It’s quite raw in places and that’s a good thing. That rawness adds to the feel of it being lighter and quicker than it actually is and let us not think this is slow. With a 0-60 time of 8.8, it’ll keep up with an original Mk 1 Golf GTi. In actual fact, there are many areas that this is similar to the original. It’s like VW have resurrected the original from the ashes of yesteryear and I am happy.
Entertaining to hurry
Dashboard facia trim
6th gear is too tall
No traction control switch
Car – Volkswagen Up GTi 115PS
Price – £16,655 (as tested)
MPG – 58.9mpg (combined)
Power – 115PS
0-62mph – 8.8 seconds
Top Speed – 122 mph
Co2 – 110 (g/km)