« Back Volkswagen Up! GTi + Golf GTi


Bigger isn’t always better – that’s a good mantra for the VW Up! GTi. That and ‘good things come in small packages’. You see this is the first time the smallest VW in the range has had the proper GTi treatment and VW hasn’t gone at it with half-measures, yet it also hasn’t overcooked the pudding.

You see there’s a lot to be said for a car that isn’t overpowered – that’s not to say it’s underpowered – but the Up! GTi is a car that you can extract 100% of the performance from down your favourite back road and have an absolute blast, all while not having to worry about points on your licence. The Up! GTi (yes, the ‘!’ is mandatory) is blessed with a tiny little three cylinder, 1.0 litre turbo engine which produces a significant 113bhp. Not significant because it’ll gain you bragging rights in the pub, but significant because it’s the same amount of power that the Mk1 Golf GTi had.

Weighing in at only 960kg helps too, giving a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds (that’s faster than the Golf). You get a wonderful three-cylinder off-beat thrum from the exhaust, the steering is direct, the handling is nimble and the cabin is pure retro VW GTi with the tartan seats and perfect design. This may be one of the smallest hot hatches on sale today, but it’s also one of the absolute best.


How do you replace an icon? Well VW has certainly had a good go with the new Golf Mk8 - taking the stylish looks of the Mk7.5 and finessing them, adding a friendlier, more rounded front end to a familiar rear has given the Golf a new personality.

But as a GTi it requires a certain type of styling - it's always been sporty but not too aggressive, enough to show subtly that you have the performance and you can use it, but you're not shouting about it with massive wings and a noisy exhaust.

For 2020 the familiar EA888 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo engine produces 242bhp and 370Nm, meaning performance is certainly sprightly without being silly.

Amazingly there's still a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard for all those old-school petrolheads, but the outstanding 7-speed DSG is available as an option.

As for tech - the Mk8 Golf has it all - literally anything you could have imagined on a top-end Mercedes 5yrs ago is now available on a Golf. Bring it on!

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