To many enthusiasts (and with apologies to Peugeot), the letters GTI mean one thing and one thing only, and that’s a hot Golf. But Volkswagen applies the treatment to smaller Polo as well. And now it’s going even smaller.
Set to debut next week before the gathered enthusiasts at Lake Wörthersee is the Volkswagen Up! GTI. Though the show car is billed as a concept, VW promises a production version to follow early next year.
To live up to the name, the city car has been upgraded to 113 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. (Though the turbocharged engine’s other parameters have not been disclosed, other versions of the Up! Employ a 1.0-liter inline-three.) With only 1,786 pounds to motivate, that’s said to be enough for a 9.0-second 0-62 time and a top speed of 122 miles per hour.
Now before you go turning up your nose at those figures, VW’s eager to point out that it’s pretty close to the specs of the original MkI Golf GTI. That “ur-GTI” produced slightly less at 108 hp, weighed more at nearly 2,200 lbs, yet somehow ran a slightly better (but roughly comparable) 0-62 time of 8.8 seconds but topped out at 113 mph.
Numbers aside, the Up! GTI is made to look the part, with a red-striped honeycomb grille, aero upgrades, a suspension lowered by 0.6 inches, 17-inch alloys, and an interior with leather-wrapped steering wheel, round shift knob, and – most important of all – plaid seat upholstery. When it hits the market, it’ll come in red, white, dark silver, black, or light blue. No matter the color, it’s sure to be a hoot to drive, and a natural rival to the Renault Twingo GT and Smart Forfour Brabus.