Let's start way back in 1975 at the Frankfurt Motor Show when the Mk 1 Golf GTI was debuted, starting an international love of 'hot hatches' which every manufacturer since has got onboard with. Powered by a 1.6 petrol engine, the Mk1 Golf GTI could jump to 60 mph in 9 seconds and had a top speed of 110 mph - it was truly the original and ultimate injected grand tourer (GTI).
Jump forward some years to 2018, VW launch the up! GTI and confuses but impresses a large audience of long term fans. Why would VW launch a 'hot' version of an ideal city car which has won so many awards? Simply, because they could - the demand was there, people wanted a fast and fun city car which was a true GTI at heart.
Powered by a 999cc 3-cylinder petrol engine, the up! GTI produces 114bhp and can scramble to 62mph in 8.8 seconds. Those figures are extremely close to the original Golf GTI, even though the up! GTI weighs 200kg more than the original.
At the heart of the up! GTI is true engineering, proper performance and a real fun factor. While the 6-speed box can feel slightly unconnected and the brakes could have more feel - consider the price.. £14,000. You're looking at a 3-4 year old Golf GTI with 35,000 miles for that money... or a brand new up! GTI.
When you enter a corner, the up! won't let go, giving you a sense of being entirely connected. The throttle is responsive, the engine noise addictive and the fun factor is never ending. It can also turn around 58.9mpg, has 17" diamond cut alloys as standard.. the list goes on. So this begs the question..
Is this the best GTI that VW have ever made?
Simply? ..Sort of! Beating the current Golf GTI is a difficult feat to achieve, as it's such a superb all rounder, but the up! GTI does a damn good job of giving it a go.
The up! has superb handling, great performance, economy most can only dream of and a price which is difficult to beat. The Golf is considerably more.. but you get more for the money. Elements of the up! feel cheap, but for £14,000 what do you expect?
For some driving scenes, check out a video of me throwing an up! GTI around a closed track..