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Volkswagen Up GTI

Date: 06 June 2018   |   Author: Pete Tullin

Is the Up worthy of the GTI legend, or is it just a cynical piece of badge engineering?

They may share a nameplate, but the Volkswagen Up GTI has about as much in common with the Golf GTI as Kim Jong-Un has with Kim Kardashian. Now we've cleared that up, what we can say is that the Up GTI is a proper hoot. 

Its frisky, 999cc three-cylinder engine may only generate 115hp, but it will rev like crazy and, because it babbles like a toddler on a sugar rush, it always feels like you're bombing along, even when you're just mooching up the high street. 

As you might expect from a sporty little motor, the ride can feel a touch unforgiving at lower speeds but, conversely, the steering feels surprisingly delicate. It's ideal for zipping in and out of traffic, and elbowing your way into tight parking spots, but it doesn't build weight sufficiently as speeds increase. 

VW_up !_GTI_008

Not to worry, though, because the GTI is so compact, you needn't look further than the end of your nose to see where things start and finish, so it's an extremely easy car to place precisely on the road. Equally, when it comes to bends, any thoughts of slackening the pressure in your right foot are instantly dismissed the moment you turn in, and cause the taut suspension to squat, and the tyres to grip with terrier-like tenacity.

Inside, the GTI exudes retro chic from every nook and cranny, thanks to its GTI-emblemed leather sports steering wheel and gear shifter, body-coloured door panels, and, of course, those familiar, tartan seats.

Like all Ups, the GTI is almost as wide as it is long and, because loads of light spills in through its large windows, the cabin never feels at all gloomy or claustrophobic.

Volkswagen Up ! GTI (6)

What's more, no designer has been allowed to mess about with rising waistlines and pinched rear-ends, so those travelling in the back get plenty of shoulder room and almost as good a view of the passing scenery as those in front. That said, knee room in the back is rather snug, so the majority of adults will probably have to sit with a bit of a twisted spine, if they are to avoid rubbing their knees against the backs of the front seats.

If you're bringing up baby, the GTI is also available as a five-door. Although it may not look quite as edgy as the three-door option and will add £500 to your invoice, the better access will certainly help take the strain off your lumbar region when loading little ones. It'll also save no end of squabbling among your mates when deciding who rides to the pub in the cheap seats.

VW_up !_GTI_037  

Obviously, given it's such a small car, the buck has to stop somewhere and it does, rather abruptly, just beyond the rear seats. Although the boot is quite deep, it's also very slim and while you can fling the rear seatbacks down if you need more capacity, a couple of soft sports bags will be about the limit of what you can jam in with the seats in place. 

As for running costs, the GTI's 58.9mpg looks very impressive, as does the affordable group 17 insurance. Throw in a very attractive P11D price and you can pretty much guarantee a stampede of thrusting young execs hammering on the door of fleet managers throughout the land.

Volkswagen Up GTI

P11D £13,555

On sale Now

Residual value 33.0%

Depreciation £9080

Fuel £5695

Service, maintenance and repair £2053

Cost per mile £39.2

Fuel consumption 58.9mpg

CO2 (BIK band) 110g/km (21%)  

BIK 20/40% a month £107/215

Boot space 251 litres

Engine size/power 115hp/999cc


  • Fun with a capital 'F', looks the part inside and out.
  • Leg room is tight in the back seats, the boot is tiny.