Volkswagen has confirmed its plans to raise the image and overall sales appeal of its entry-level Up through the addition of a new range-topping GTI model.
The new GTI model, which could be priced from around £15,000 in the UK, has been conceived to provide Volkswagen with a sporty rival to the popular Abarth 500 (now 595). It will use a powered-up version of the company’s newly introduced turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in a brand-building exercise under the motto ‘affordable performance’.
In the facelifted Up, the new EA211- designated triple delivers 89bhp and 118lb ft of torque. In the Up GTI, it delivers 114bhp, although a torque figure hasn't yet been given by VW.
The new engine is due to be offered with the choice of either a five-speed manual or, although not confirmed, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Prototypes of the Up GTI are said to be capable of a top speed of more than 119mph and a 0-62mph time of around 8.8sec when fitted with the manual gearbox.
The recently revised Abarth 595 has a larger, turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine that delivers 143bhp and 152lb ft in entry-level form and comes with either a standard five-speed manual or robotised automatic.
The Up GTI also receives a heavily retuned MacPherson strut (front) and torsion beam (rear) suspension with its own spring and damper rates, as well as a lowered ride height.
Autocar has already driven a prototype of the Up fitted with an early 104bhp version of the turbocharged 1.0-litre triple. The move to give it 114bhp is significant because it's not far off the power output of the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine used by the first generation of the Golf GTI, originally revealed at the 1975 Frankfurt motor show.