Junior hot hatch is powered by a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine with 113bhp
12 July 2018

Volkswagen has had to adjust its production strategy for the Up GTI because the pepped-up city car has been more popular than it anticipated.

Following the car's launch in February, Volkswagen had to temporarily pause orders so that it could ramp up the pace of output and reduce lead times. It has since reopened order books, and deliveries for the car, which costs £14,055 in three-door form and £14,455 as a five-door, are now estimated to come five months after orders are placed.

The Up GTI is Volkswagen's first rival to the likes of the Abarth 595 and Vauxhall Adam S, which are priced from £15,510 and £18,720 respectively, meaning the newest model is also cheaper by large margins.

2018 Volkswagen Up GTI review

The Up GTI is the latest member of what Volkswagen officials recently suggested to Autocar will become a larger and more prominent GTI line-up. It arrives well into the latter half of the Up’s planned seven-year lifecycle.

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Up

The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

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Developed in a joint project between Volkswagen’s regular road car department and its high performance R division, the Up GTI was described as being very much in the spirit of the original Golf GTI of 1976, with an upgraded engine, greater downforce at the rear and revised suspension, all claimed to give it much higher levels of outright performance and handling.

With 113bhp on tap at 5000rpm from a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder direct-injection petrol engine, peak power is a significant 30bhp down on the turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of the 595 but the same output as the similarly configured turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine of the Adam S.

With a kerb weight of 997kg, the Up GTI therefore has a power-to-weight ratio of 113.3bhp per tonne. It's backed up by 147lb ft of torque between 2000 and 3500rpm.

The original Golf GTI was powered by a naturally aspirated multi-point fuel injected 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 108bhp and 104lb ft. But with a kerb weight of 810kg, it packed a sharper 133.3bhp-per-tonne ratio.

The Up GTI's engine is also used entry-level version of the regular Golf. Along with a stop-start and energy recuperation system, it has a particulate filter that enables the compact three-cylinder unit to meet the new WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) emissions standards.

A further development adopted by the new range-topping Up model is a so-called sound actuator. This provides a synthetically generated exhaust note aimed at enhancing the aural qualities of the 999cc engine.

Power is sent to the front wheels via a closely stacked six-speed manual gearbox. Volkswagen claims a 0-62mph time of 8.8sec and a top speed of 122mph. This compares to 9.0sec and 113mph for the original Golf GTi.

The Up GTI also receives a retuned MacPherson strut (front) and torsion beam (rear) suspension with unique spring and damper rates, as well as a 15mm reduction in ride height over existing Up models.

A series of stylistic upgrades transforms the look of the Up, providing it with many of the classic GTI cues used by Volkswagen through the years.

Included is a new front bumper with additional cooling vents – including one integrated into a splitter element along its lower edge – round fog lamps with a cornering light function and a plastic honeycomb grille insert. Above this is a GTI badge and characteristic horizontal red feature line in the space between the headlamps.

Also included are GTI badges within the trailing section of front fenders, adhesive stripes along the lower section of the doors, high gloss black exterior mirror caps, 17in Brands Hatch alloy wheels and red front brake callipers.

At the rear, there’s a uniquely styled spoiler atop the tailgate and a redesigned bumper featuring an altered valance within its lower section that houses a single round chromed tailpipe. As at the front, there's also a GTI badge and red feature line within the lower section of the tailgate.

Buyers can choose from five exterior paint colours: Tornado Red, Pure White, Dark Silver, Black Pearl and, new to the GTI line-up, Costa Azul. With the exception of cars painted in Black Pearl, the Up GTI will also be available with an optional contrasting black roof.

Inside, there is a unique 'red pixel' trim within the dashboard, plaid check fabric-upholstered front seats, a black roofliner, a multifunction flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching along with number of unique touches, including GTI insignias within the sill panels, a black leather-bound handbrake lever and GTI identification within the gear knob, albeit without the classic golf ball of the original.

Among the standard equipment for the Up GTI is a Composition infotainment system with six speakers and USB, air conditioning, heated seats and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors.

Comparison

Volkswagen Up GTI

Engine Turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol Power 113bhp at 5000rpm Torque 147lb ft at 2000rpm Kerb weight 997kg Power to weight 113.3bhp/tonne 0-62mph 8.8sec Top speed 122mph Length 3600mm Width 1641mmmm Height 1489mm

Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1

Engine Naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder multi-point fuel injected petrol Power 108bhp at 6100rpm Torque 104lb ft at 5000rpm Kerb weight 810kg Power to weight 133.3bhp/tonne 0-62mph 9.0sec Top speed 113mph Length 3705mm Width 1628mm Height 1390mm

More content:

Volkswagen Golf GTI: which generation beats them all?

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Comments
54

19 May 2017
This would have been great five years ago when the Up was first launched, but why has it will it have taken so long to bring to market. By next year, this VW will be six years old and surely ripe for replacement?
Either VW isn't interested or isn't capable of delivering what small car enthusiasts have always wanted. And certainly a "sound actuator" was never top of my wish list.
Just consider that right now you can just go out and buy the brand new (equally light but slightly bigger) Suzuki Swift with 110 horsepower booster jet engine for around £13k and you might ask whether this new GTi really is worth the wait.

19 May 2017
I couldn't agree more......and when VW transform that asking price into 17 or 18k for the UK, next year's Suzuki Swift Sport will completely wipe the floor with it......and for a lot less money.

 

Everyone has a right to an opinion - don't confuse that with insulting your mother :-)

19 May 2017
Not my cup of tea necessarily, and yes it is something that should have been introduced from the start, not just as part of the ongoing VAG PR onslaught hoping in vain to divert attention from negative stories. But to be fair, it still has a number of things going for it. Enough performance to be entertaining, petrol engine, naturally aspirated, easy to park if that's a concern, cheap insurance, probably a good compromise city car if you still want something mildly entertaining when you venture out of the city.

I'd rather be reading stories like this than about some SUV which is just yet another generic VAG clone with a different badge nailed on and slightly scratchier plastics. So it seems like a good thing.

19 May 2017
Seems like it does have a turbo actually. Disappointing. There goes the throttle response. Unfortunately with turbos and heavy flywheels, most people have become immune to the idea of a responsive throttle, and don't notice anymore.

18 January 2018
steve-p wrote:

Seems like it does have a turbo actually. Disappointing. There goes the throttle response. Unfortunately with turbos and heavy flywheels, most people have become immune to the idea of a responsive throttle, and don't notice anymore.

Gone are the days generally speaking (bar the new GRMN) where superchargers are on hand for instant shove without turbo's in faster small cars. Fuel efficiency and being "easy to drive" are what people want now.

19 May 2017
Do we really need this latest add on that so many manufacturers are fitting, there is quite enough noise on our road from the nobs with illegal exhausts who insist on letting us know they are passing through by driving in second gear, and now VW and others want to add to it, bizarre.

19 May 2017
angelcyn wrote:

Do we really need this latest add on that so many manufacturers are fitting, there is quite enough noise on our road from the nobs with illegal exhausts who insist on letting us know they are passing through by driving in second gear, and now VW and others want to add to it, bizarre.

That's the point of the sound aktuator- it is only noisy on the inside, and can be turned off when it gets annoying.

Spanner

19 May 2017
With the exposure of the dieselgate scandals and the manner in which it has treated customers and handled the whole affair since, VW do not deserve to have any further customers.

19 May 2017
I love the idea of this car (we have a humble UP! at work as a pool car and so I can imagine what it will be like). But. It's got a particulate filter, and we all know what can happen to those with diesels... Is this the start of admitting that, actually, petrols emit particulates like diesels (albeit in smaller volumes). How long before petrols are castigated like diesels are now??

19 May 2017
Jeremy wrote:

I love the idea of this car (we have a humble UP! at work as a pool car and so I can imagine what it will be like). But. It's got a particulate filter, and we all know what can happen to those with diesels... Is this the start of admitting that, actually, petrols emit particulates like diesels (albeit in smaller volumes). How long before petrols are castigated like diesels are now??

Its the direct injection that produces the particles requiring a filter. We dont yet know in what quantity, and if they will clog like DPFs appear to do.

As a car its probably great fun. At £15k it sounds very expensive for a moderately quick city car. I wonder if this will end up like the Lupo GTI, respected, but a car that almost no one actually bought, as that was far too expensive as well

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Our Verdict

Volkswagen Up

The Volkswagen Up city car isn't revolutionary, it's just quantifiably better than the opposition

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week