On display at VW's Wörthersee event in Austria, it's set for UK sale in early 2018 at an expected starting price around £14,000.
It's the latest member of what Volkswagen officials recently suggested to Autocar will become a larger and more prominent line-up of powered-up GTI models.
Developed in a joint project between Volkswagen’s regular road car department and its high performance R division, the new model is described as being very much in the spirit of the original GTI, with an upgraded engine, greater downforce at the rear and a 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, the Up GTI’s peak power is a significant 30bhp down on the turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of the 500 Abarth, but the very same output as the similarly configured turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine used by the Adam S.
With a kerbweight of 997kg, this provides it with a power-to-weight ratio of 113.3bhp/tonne. It is backed up by 147lb ft of torque between 2000 and 3500rpm.
To put things into perspective, the original Volkswagen Golf GTI of 1976 was powered by a naturally-aspirated multi-point fuel injected 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 108bhp. But with a kerbweight of 810kg, it packed a sharper 133.3bhp per tonne, despite having just 104lb ft of torque.
The Up GTI's engine is also used entry-level version of the 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) emission standards.
A further development adopted by the new range-topping Up model is a so-called sound actuator. It provides a synthetically generated exhaust note aimed at enhancing the aural qualities of the 999cc unit.
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 a respective 0-62mph time and top speed for the original Golf GTI of 9.0sec and 113mph.
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 down through the years.
Included is a new front bumper with additional cooling vents – including one integrated into a splitter element long its lower edge, round fog lamps with cornering light function and a plastic honeycomb grille insert. Above it 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, standard 17in Brands Hatch alloy wheels and red front brake calipers.
At the rear, there’s a uniquely styled spoiler atop the tailgate together with a redesigned bumper featuring an altered valance within its lower section housing a single round chromed tailpipe. As at the front, there is also a GTI badge and red feature line within the lower section of the tailgate.
Along with the three-door version pictured here, Volkswagen has confirmed the Up GTI will also be available in five-door guise from the start of UK sales.
Buyers can choose between five exterior 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 roof liner, a multi-function 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 optic of the original.
Among the standard equipment for the new Volkswagen model is a Composition infotainment system with six-speakers, a USB interface, air conditioning, heated seats as well as electrical adjustable and heated exterior mirrors and the aforementioned fog lamps with so-called static cornering lights.
Old versus new 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 (first generation)
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