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VW Up GTI review – VW’s smallest GTI tested on UK roads

Will Beaumont
27 Feb 2018
Verdict:

It might be the entry-level car in VW’s GTI range, but the Up GTI has masses of charm

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£13,750
For 
An entertaining car to drive, even if it isn’t in the conventional hot hatch manner; high quality interior
Against 
Some of the interior’s quality should have gone into the chassis
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The VW  Up GTI is not a car with a long list of impressive figures, far from it. Its maximum power and torque, 113bhp and 147lb ft respectively, certainly won’t be stealing any headlines. Neither will its 8.8 seconds to 0-62mph time.

But there are two numbers in the new GTI’s specification that you need to know, both of which make VW’s new tiny warm hatch a truly very intriguing car. The first is the Up GTI’s sub-ton kerb weight. Tipping the scales at just 995kg, the engine’s modest power suddenly looks more than sufficient, while its featherweight body also suggests the Up will be more than fun enough when presented with a corner or two. In reality, both are true; the Up GTI is brisk, even if it isn’t truly fast, and it’s eager, tenacious and eminently chuckable on a tight British B-road.

> Click here for our review of the standard Volkswagen Up

The other exciting number is the Up GTI’s price. At £13,750 it doesn’t matter that it’s not the most agile car or that there are limitations to its suspension, because the torquey engine, quality interior, super-fast gear change, tough looks, and, still, very engaging driving experience, mean that it feels like a true performance car bargain.

VW Up GTI in detail

Performance and 0-62 time – 113bhp is unlikely to create record-breaking performance figures, but the Up GTI’s 0-62mph of 8.8 seconds is certainly respectable 

Engine and gearbox – The 999cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine is gutsier than its capacity would have you believe, while the six-speed gearbox is a pleasure to swiftly swap gears 

Ride and handling – As long as you don’t expect an edgy, infinitely adjustable chassis, you won’t be disappointed; the Up GTI feels more grown up than you expect

MPG and running costs – Despite more power and a sportier attitude, the GTI retains some of the Up’s frugality

Interior and tech – A highlight of the Up GTI is its well-appointed, stylish and top quality interior

Design – The handsome Up is made even more desirable by a selection of typical-GTI design cues 

Prices, specs and rivals

It doesn’t really matter whether the Up GTI is the perfect warm hatch or not, because at £13,750 it’s astonishingly cheap. That it’s any fun at all for that money is remarkable, that it feels as good as it does is a miracle, really.

Be lavish with the options – make it a five-door with metallic paint, climate control and some other goodies – and you could bump the price up to £17,000. Still quite a bargain for such a well-equipped car.

> Click here for our review of the Renault Twingo GT

There aren’t many really tiny warm hatches for the Up GTI to do battle with. The near-identical Renault Twingo GT and Smart ForFour Brabus are the only two cars available that rival the Up. Both have a rear-mounted 898cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine that puts them a little behind the Up in terms of performance thanks to 107bhp, 125lb ft of torque and a 10.5 second 0-62mph time. Neither has the same quality feel as the Up, nor quite as fun to drive. The Twingo is comparable on price though, starting at just £14,250, but the Brabus is a huge £16,940.

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