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We have been waiting, aching, for an up! GTI ever since Volkswagen launched its cute-and-cuddly city car. Small, light, and agile, the up! always seemed destined for some sporty additions, and the memory of the brilliant, but short-lived, Lupo GTI made the want even stronger.
Well now we're getting it. The Worthersee Festival, which has turned from a small Volkswagen GTI club gathering into a massive Volkswagen Group version of Glastonbury, will see the debut of the up! GTI next week.
Volkswagen is drawing heavy parallels between the little up! GTI and the original Golf GTI, launched 41 years ago this summer. The up! will get the same tartan seats as the Golf GTI, and a contrast red-stitched, flat-bottom steering wheel too. There will also be unique 17-inch alloy wheels, subtle red exterior highlights and GTI badges, a large rear spoiler, suspension tweaked and lowered by 15mm, and a honeycomb radiator grille.
That grille feeds cooling air to a turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine developing 115hp (the original Mk1 Golf GTI had but 100hp) and 230Nm of torque, So in a 997kg up! that little engine is going to develop some serious shove. An 8.8 second 0-100km/h time may not sound that fast, but we bet this is a car which is going to feel much quicker than its on-paper figures would suggest. Top speed will be 197km/h.
The car at Worthersee is officially still a concept model, but Volkswagen has confirmed that the up! GTI will go on sale in early 2018, and prices should start at around the €20-23,000 mark once it arrives here.
"With the up! GTI, Volkswagen is building a bridge that spans four decades: when the first GTI was launched in the 1970s it democratised access to fast roads around the world - especially the overtaking lane of German motorways. Where large saloons and expensive sports cars had previously set the pace, the new compact Volkswagen suddenly stirred up the field" said Volkswagen in a statement. The new up! GTI continues the creed of the lightweight and no-frills sports car with a compact format - from outside and inside similar in size to the original GTI. The fact is: this GTI does not just look like one - it also drives like one. A new original."