Within this powered-up Up you’ll find the seats are upholstered in VW’s GTI-familiar Jacara cloth tartan check, and there’s a three-spoke steering wheel not only bound in leather but subtly flat of bottom too. So far, so modern GTI.

The next things you’ll notice are that the gearknob is branded – so too the door sills – and that the dash’s trim garnish gets an eye-catching red pixel motif that’s attractive, albeit a shade too dark to match with the vibrant red hue of the contrast cross-stitching elsewhere. The roof-lining is also black, which does more for the sporting cause than you’d think. Meanwhile, the cabin’s matt chrome trim is a welcome and effective trick in making a city car seem worth a list price that’s closing in on £14,000.

I usually sit low in hot hatches, but I found the driving position improved with the seat cushion set at middling height. For me, it’s about compensating for the limited steering column reach. But it works.

With no changes to the car’s architecture, you still get the same deceptively capacious packaging and good ergonomic attention to detail that makes finding various controls effortless - although the dials are a touch more stylish within the instrument binnacle than in lesser models.

The Up GTI’s infotainment system comes in two parts: one supplied by Volkswagen, the other by you. The former is a 5.0in colour screen that displays basic functions such as radio and phone, and features Bluetooth connectivity. The latter is your smartphone, which can be mounted on a neatly integrated cradle atop the dashboard, with a USB socket via which to recharge it and connect it to the car.

Given the physical growth of smartphones generation on generation, it’s something of an oversight that the frame only accepts devices with screens up to 5.5in (the latest Apple iPhone, for example, is 5.65in). However, should yours fit, you can control the navigation functions – and more besides – via the Up’s physical controls by downloading VW’s free ‘Maps + More’ app onto iOS or Android devices. There are physical ventilation controls neatly clustered in the middle of the dash, too, just below the smartphone mount.

Space? There’s more in here than you’d credit. In the back, an average-height adult will be tolerably comfortable over short trips, while the standard car’s class-leading boot space remains intact. Which is to say, the boot’s small, but usable.

The cabin of this diminutive hatch has never been an exhibition in daring design and that’s still very much the case here. However, as you might expect, such a hearty complement of GTI paraphernalia does give the space an element of punch, and makes the car fun in the same minimised fashion of a perfectly pruned bonsai tree. You can’t help but slide in for the first time with a grin on your face.


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