Hot versions of city cars are a rare breed these days, which makes the Up GTI something of a rarity. City car or not, VW opted to slap the GTI badge on it, so it must tick many boxes in order to do it justice.
Power comes from a turbocharged 1.0-liter TSI three-cylinder engine that makes 113hp and 170lb-ft of torque, enough to send the Up GTI to 62mph (100km/h) in 8.8 seconds. It won’t glue your back to the GTI-specific tartan seat, but straight-line performance is brisk, especially considering its size.
Moreover, the 1.0 TSI emits the kind of growl three-cylinder engines have become known for in the past few years, making the experience of going through the gears more engaging.
Instead of gunning for the ultimate precision, VW has given the Up GTI a more rounded feel, with the suspension allowing the body to lean in corners and letting the driver know exactly when he approaches the car’s limits. Thankfully, those limits are surprisingly high, according to Carfection’s Henry Catchpole, allowing the driver to properly thrash this little hot hatch on a winding road.
It may not be the most surgical tool in the hot hatch world, but it wasn’t meant to be anyway. Additionally, its tiny footprint combined with a talented chassis and lively engine make VW’s smallest GTI a car that puts a smile on your face in every occasion.