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The Volkswagen GTI family recently increased with the addition of the up!, a small hot little number which saw the light of day at the Worthersee GTI festival in 2017 and later launched in Monaco earlier this year.

Recently I had the opportunity to try this sporty package and it did please in no small way. With handling qualities which can best be described as kart-like, it certainly delivers a lot of fun. I am not sure, however, that I would like it for everyday use, but if funds were sufficient, it would be ideal for the weekend.

The up! GTI makes many hat tips to the iconic Mark 1 Golf GTi

Resting beneath the bonnet is its 115PS powerplant, so it is possible reach 196kph (122mph) where legal and rest to 100kph (62mph) comes up in 8.8 seconds. Okay, not exactly earth shattering, but it does seem a good deal faster as it is a relatively small package. The dimensions, kerb weight and performance align, broadly, to those of the original Golf GTI which hit the tarmac in 1976 to worldwide acclaim. There is no mistake this is the most potent up! thanks to the turbocharged three cylinder 12-valve one litre TSI engine with peak torque (200 Nm) available from just 2,000 rpm.  With front-wheel drive, the up! GTI transmits its power to the road via a six-speed manual gearbox, which has a sporty feel. Moving to the exterior and there you find the famous GTI insignia including double side stripes and red trim strips, while moving to the interior and to my delight there is tartan ‘Jacara’ fabric- akin to what was used in the original Golf GTI (and which I observed on the latest Golf GTI Performance which I tested a few months ago). Cabin space is restricted, space for just four and once behind the wheel there is more to observe, GTI door sill panel trims, a special GTI gear knob and a multifunction steering wheel specific to this model in the up! range with red stitching and the famous logo in the vertical spoke.

I had expected this model to be fairly basic with the emphasis on engine, transmission, suspension etc., but how wrong can you be, it comes with a significantly enhanced set of standard features. In addition to the already noted badging, you get a Composition Colour radio system; six loudspeakers; a USB interface; air conditioning; heated seats; electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors; and front fog lights with static cornering lights. Available in three door or five door bodystyles, it is one of the first VW cars to launch with a close-coupled petrol particulate filter. Its use reduces particulate emissions by up to 95 percent.

Once on the open road, performance is certainly sporty and handling is greatly aided by a suspension set up which is some 15mm lower than the standard car. With such a smart set of alloys which really add the finishing touch to this VW model you get a much appreciated set of anti-theft wheel bolts. As is often the case when I test a car the manufacturer will have added a number of options and on this occasion I had climate control, electronic air conditioning with automatic air recirculation and allergy filter, cruise and park pack, rear parking sensors and cruise control, city emergency braking pack plus automatic headlights, rain sensor and coming/leaving home function. There is more Vodafone Protect and Connect 6, vehicle tracker including one year subscription, colour and trim: Tungsten Silver with Black roof and ‘Jacara Red’ cloth upholstery.

Summing up the up! GTI will no doubt appeal to the younger driver and gives Volkswagen another slot in the marketplace. It’s worth noting thanks to its compact dimensions, you will be able to park in urban areas with ease – as you can see below!.

Ian Lynas

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