Following the car's launch in February, Volkswagen had to temporarily pause orders so that it could ramp up the pace of output and reduce lead times. It has since reopened order books, and deliveries for the car, which costs £14,055 in three-door form and £14,455 as a five-door, are now estimated to come five months after orders are placed.
The Up GTI is Volkswagen's first rival to the likes of the Abarth 595 and Vauxhall Adam S, which are priced from £15,510 and £18,720 respectively, meaning the newest model is also cheaper by large margins.
The Up GTI is the latest member of what Volkswagen officials recently suggested to Autocar will become a larger and more prominent GTI line-up. It arrives well into the latter half of the Up’s planned seven-year lifecycle.
Developed in a joint project between Volkswagen’s regular road car department and its high performance R division, the Up GTI was described as being very much in the spirit of the original Golf GTI of 1976, with an upgraded engine, greater downforce at the rear and 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, peak power is a significant 30bhp down on the turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine of the 595 but the same output as the similarly configured turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine of the Adam S.
With a kerb weight of 997kg, the Up GTI therefore has a power-to-weight ratio of 113.3bhp per tonne. It's backed up by 147lb ft of torque between 2000 and 3500rpm.
The original Golf GTI was powered by a naturally aspirated multi-point fuel injected 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 108bhp and 104lb ft. But with a kerb weight of 810kg, it packed a sharper 133.3bhp-per-tonne ratio.
The Up GTI's engine is also used entry-level version of the regular 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) emissions standards.
A further development adopted by the new range-topping Up model is a so-called sound actuator. This provides a synthetically generated exhaust note aimed at enhancing the aural qualities of the 999cc engine.
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 9.0sec and 113mph for the original Golf GTi.