As with the regular Up, the GTI sits on the VW Group’s New Small Family platform, with a transversely mounted engine sitting in its nose and driving the front wheels. Powering the car is a 1.0-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder motor from VW’s ‘EA211’ family of engines. It develops 114bhp between 5000rpm and 5500rpm, and 148lb ft between 2000rpm and 3500rpm.

The latter seems like a particularly generous portion of pulling power for a car that tipped the scales at our test track at just 1003kg, and gives the Up GTI a much better torque-to-weight ratio than either the original Golf GTI or the Lupo GTI had. However, will a three-cylinder engine with fairly heavy counterbalance measures, that’s dropping away from its power peak by 5500rpm, encourage you to chase the redline as keenly as the screaming four-pots of great pint-sized hot hatchbacks of the past? We’ll see.

I think a lot of people will like the car’s oddball, old-school temperament. You have to wrestle a bit to get the best from it, but that makes the results so much more rewarding when they come.

The Up GTI gets a six-speed manual transmission, as opposed to the five-speed gearbox available in the standard car. No twin-clutch DSG option is offered.

Suspension is made up of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear, the car’s overall ride height having been lowered by 15mm in comparison with the standard model, and its tracks widened by 8mm both front and rear. The car rolls on 17in alloys of 6.5J rim width. The wheels, designed by VW’s R Division tuning arm, are each of 4mm less positive offset than the standard Up’s alloys and therefore deliver the car’s track width increase without any further hardware changes. VW press material on the car makes no mention of any specific changes to the car’s dampers or anti-roll bars, but it’s safe to assume both have been either retuned or uprated.

The sporting modifications haven’t been limited to the car’s underpinnings, either. The Up GTI gains a more sporting exterior design, with the ‘transverse rod’ styling feature that spans the width of the front end having been finished in glossy black, and a splitter element marking out the bottom of the bumper. The car’s detail upgrades have certainly been cleverly handled.

As for the car’s overall dimensions: if you’re looking for convenient similarity with those of the original Golf GTI here, you’ll look in vain. The Up GTI is 105mm shorter, with an 88mm taller roofline, than the Golf GTI Mk1, which are differences large enough to expect the Up to be subject to quite different dynamic challenges than its famous forebear was.


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