Steve Cropley
25 January 2012

What is it?

Volkswagen was never going to wait long before coming up with a sporty version of its new A-segment entry, the Volkswagen Up, launched recently. Though the production version is at least six months away from the showrooms, even in Germany, the major spec of the Volkswagen Up GT (pictured here still as a concept car) seems quite confirmed and includes all the enhancements you'd expect: more power and torque courtesy of a turbocharger, a six-speed gearbox, bigger wheels and tyres, sportier suspension settings, more supportive front seats, some extra interior brightwork — and more aggressive nose styling to advertise it all.

The Wolfsburgers insist the exact package isn't entirely fixed yet, but our drive in the personal car of technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg's showed a high degree of maturity.

What’s it like?

In a word, it’s brilliant. The 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, now with 109bhp and an especially impressive 120lb ft of torque to pass through the gearbox (which has one more forward speed than standard manual gearbox cars) begins to sound like a baby Porsche 911 as soon as you use it with a bit of commitment, which its light but accurate controls instantly encourage you to do.

The turbo triple feels strong where you'd expect — towards its 6500 rpm redline — but it also pulls keenly from below 2000 revs and has remarkably little turbo lag for such a small engine. Not just that, it also glides smoothly and discreetly around the city on light throttle openings. The fact that it’ll do 0-62mph in a brisk 8.5 seconds, and about 118 mph flat out is only a fraction of the story. The whole thing simply reeks of painstaking VW development.

The Volkswagen Up GT rides a little more firmly than the standard car, but remains well-damped and supple. It's ultra-stable in corners and has lots of grip, but will reluctantly understeer when you get to the limit. Driving it hard is easy, but very rewarding. And thanks to the tall sixth gear (I think I saw around 3500 rpm at an indicated 90-odd mph) you feel you could drive this car comfortably and quietly across Europe. It's that good.

Should I buy one?

You can’t for a while. When it becomes available, you’ll have to battle a lot of other eager takers, we predict, if they make the showroom cars as good as Hackenberg’s prototype. The RenaultSport Clio is bigger and goes much harder, but it's pricier, too and scarcely roomier. VW won't talk pricing - in the UK they have a year to decide - but a fair estimate would be around £13,500. For that, you’ll be getting one of the best-driving cars on the road.

Volkswagen Up GT

Price: circa £13,500 (2013); Top speed: 118 mph; 0-62mph: 8.6 sec; Economy: circa 62 mpg (combined); CO2: na; Kerbweight: 960 kg est; Engine: in-line 12v, 3cyl turbo, 999cc turbo; Power: 109 bhp; Torque: 129 lb ft; Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
36

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

These pics show how much the Up relies on its 'smiley' front grille to give the looks any character or individuality. Without it, in my opinion it is very bland.

Wonder if Skoda will do a hot version - as far as looks go I think that would be a much more appealing proposition.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

Yes, yes, yes! I didn't think VW would offer such a desirable little car! £13,500 is very good, as is 62mpg and an 8.6 seconds 0-60mph time. I bet the turbo'd three pot sounds great, too!

Surely, the fact that it's a 'GT', not a 'GTI', means that the Up has a little more to offer...

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

i read about this a little earlier on the What Car site, but they were predicting £12,000, but with VWs pricing i suspect this is nearer the mark.

It certainly sounds an enticing prospect and for all of us who have asked for a sporty version of the Aygo/C1/107, it shows someone was listening, it just happens to have been VW. I suspect it will sell very well. i will be looking for a test drive.

Hopefully there will be some competitors before too long too.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

As much as I think Up is a great car, I think this is one note too much.

In the look department, and motorization also , for a GT car.

This niche is not in VW domain.

Previously, Lupo GTI had respectable performance, but it was never big selling success.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

RadeB wrote:

As much as I think Up is a great car, I think this is one note too much.

In the look department, and motorization also , for a GT car.

I'm the complete opposite. I'm not a fan of the standard versions of the Up, but this GT version really appeals to me.

What about the Citigo vRS and Mii Cupra? They will be even better. Oh, and it looks like VW learned from their mistake with the Polo GTI. Due to its manual 'box, this car is much more affordable and surely much more enjoyable and engaging.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

Fidji wrote:
I'm the complete opposite. I'm not a fan of the standard versions of the Up, but this GT version really appeals to me.

I find the whole concept of Up as a car for urban driving, not bad for longer trips too, but mainly a fine, esthetically wonderful piece of art, and with brilliant mechanics for this purpose.

Not for racing.

The front air inlets on the sides, just looks unnecessary to me, as does the rear spoiler.

Unnecessary for the Up!

For this kind of a car, I would go for an Abarth.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

RadeB wrote:
For this kind of a car, I would go for an Abarth

I would too. The whole concept seems ridiculous to me. I think if Fiat makes a Panda Abarth will have no problem outdoing it. This Up looks like poor man MINI, that cheap and cheerful thing was never the Germans' strong suit and this no exception.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

I actually really like the Up, but would hope VW get rid of the tacky bodykit that the GT concept seems to have been given. Something like a 500/Panda Abarth would be more my kind of thing, but if VW can do something clever to keep running costs down (and therefore below the competition) then they could be onto a winner.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

RadeB wrote:

I find the whole concept of Up as a car for urban driving, not bad for longer trips too, but mainly a fine, esthetically wonderful piece of art, and with brilliant mechanics for this purpose.

Not for racing.

Maybe I'm having a midlife crisis, but I still prefer this to the normal Up.

Re: Volkswagen Up GT

2 years 25 weeks ago

Ooh, this looks promising. Is this a VW finally UP to giving as much fun as a Swift Sport or Twingo?

'bout blinking time VW.

I'm now on all fours

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Our Verdict

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

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