The all-round ride composure, remarkable road-appropriate suppleness, assured grip level and progressive body control that are the dynamic hallmarks of VW’s bigger GTI hatchbacks aren’t easily conjured in any modern hatch; they were always going to be lofty expectations of a relatively narrow, high-set city car.
As a drive in any of the Up GTI’s rivals would quickly prove, some key compromises have to be made if you want to make significant improvements to the handling of this sort of car. The Up GTI can’t cheat physics, and so it makes those compromises almost as plain as many of its opponents do. Equally, though, it also really has its moments – snatches of plucky, lively dynamism and driver reward that will redeem its overall driving experience for a great many.
The car rides like an Up that’s been lowered on its springs, and firmed up in its suspension in more ways than one – though perhaps not so carefully honed. It’s a busy, reactive, excitable car to be in when travelling at a decent clip on a typical country road, and plainly one of a fairly short wheelbase that falls into plenty of sunken hollows and rebounds out of them.