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York
Volkswagen Up The Ante With New GTI
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The Volkswagen up! has been on sale for over seven years and is still one of the best city cars on sale. A packaging marvel, the boxy body offers space for four reasonable sized adults to travel in comfort.

The diminutive size makes it ideal for city life, yet the up! has never been afraid to venture further afield. Looking back at my old review reaffirms the car’s excellent motorway manners and composed cross-country abilities.

For those in search of a little more motoring excitement, Volkswagen offered both its Polo and Golf models in performance GTi specification, but now at long last you can choose an up! with sporting aspirations. Why it has taken VW so long is anybody’s guess and having just enjoyed a week behind the wheel I can confirm it has been worth the wait.

Let’s start with the engine. A familiar transverse 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged is offered pushing out 115PS. In such a light-weight body, this sparky motor endows the up! with spirited performance (0 to 62 in 8.8 seconds).

Combined with a slick six-speed gearbox, brisk progress is the order of the day especially if you keep the engine singing in its sweet spot between 2,000 to 3,500rpm.

The engine has a delightful off-beat thrum to it, an endearing characteristic of an uneven number of cylinders.

This is a frugal motor too, ably demonstrated by a three hour dash to Northumberland for a short break. A mix of motorway and fast A and B roads saw a return of 53mpg, fairly close to the official 58.0mpg for the combined cycle. CO2 emissions are low too at just 110g/km.

As per its humbler siblings, the up! GTi makes for a reasonably refined motorway cruiser and ride comfort has not been unduly compromised by the sports suspension (lowered by 15mm).

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However, find a favourite section of challenging roads and the up! GTi comes alive. Aside from a tad more body roll than is desirable, the GTi is immensely chuckable and whilst in extremis the front will push wide, the car can be cornered with confidence. Most importantly there’s a huge amount of fun to be had and at sensible licence-keeping speeds too.

Compact dimensions are an asset, especially on some of the narrower country lanes in my part of Yorkshire and this too encourages a brisk driving style. In fact those old enough to remember, will find there are distinct echoes of the Mark 1 Golf GTi both in terms of size and driving feel.

In case those around were in any doubt as to what variant of up! you had purchased, Volkswagen has added the GTi insignia including double red stripes to the body. Inside is to be found classic ‘Jacara’ tartan seat trim, GTi door sill panel trims and special GTi gear knob.

The up! is loaded with desirable features too, so expect to find air conditioning, heated seats and a powerful six speaker sound system.

Best of all is the on the road price – a three-door model can be on your driveway for just £14,055 and if you want the extra practicality an extra pair of doors confers, then add a further £400 to the spend.

Rivals are conspicuous by their absence. The newly launched Suzuki Swift Sport now lists at £17,999 and a Ford Fiesta ST will add an extra £1,000 to that. A MINI One can be had for just under £16,000 but a sporting Cooper will cost at least £17,315.

The up! GTi is therefore destined to sell like hot cakes and I gather that Volkswagen is struggling to keep pace with early demand.

So get your name down now for one of the most fun and engaging cars on the new car market today. I can assure you it will be well worth the wait.

Fast Facts (as tested)

Volkswagen up! GTi
Price £14,055 OTR
Tornado Red paint, ‘Jacara Red’ cloth upholstery
1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine
115PS and 200Nm of torque
0 to 62mph in 8.8 seconds
Top speed 122mph
Combined economy 58.9mpg (53mpg on test)
Emissions 110g/km CO2

Volkswagen Up The Ante With New GTI, 1st August 2018, 16:39 PM