Although a concept for now, the pocket rocket will in fact be launched in 2018.
With the up! GTI, Volkswagen wants to prove that good things do come in small packages like Renault is doing with the Twingo GT and Smart with the ForFour Brabus. Embodying the philosophy behind the original Golf GTI, the feisty car is being billed as a near-production concept and will actually hit the assembly line beginning with early next year. The Grand Turismo Injection treatment applied for the first time on Wolfsburg’s pint-sized model includes a three-cylinder 1.0-liter TSI engine with 115 horsepower (85 kilowatts) on tap, thus making it 5 hp stronger than its ancestor from 1976.
And while 115 hp and 230 Newton-meters (170 pound-feet) of torque might not sound like a lot of muscle, let’s keep in mind the up! GTI tips the scales at only 997 kilograms (2,198 pounds). Sure, it’s a lot heavier than the Golf GTI MkI (810 kg / 1,785 lbs), but it’s also considerably safer and actually both quicker and faster. Indeed, the 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) sprint takes a swift 8.8 seconds whereas the first Golf GTI needed an extra two tenths of a second. As for the top speed, go all out and the up! GTI will hit 122 mph (197 kph) or 9 mph (15 kph) more than its source of inspiration.
Aside from being more powerful than the regular up! models, the GTI also stands out thanks to its slightly more aggressive body with beefier front and rear bumpers, roof-mounted rear spoiler, and bespoke 17-inch alloy wheels. Numerous glossy black accents further set it apart from the lesser versions, while the sportier suspension setup brings the car closer to the road by 15 millimeters (0.6 inches). Rounding off the changes on the outside are the black side strips and the typical GTI red piece of trim applied onto the grille as well as on the black tailgate.
Hopping inside the cabin, the range-topping up! gets a sporty steering wheel wrapped in leather and adorned with the “GTI” lettering. Other goodies include the familiar “clark” seat pattern and the GTI gear knob as one would expect from any GTI-branded VW.
When the production car will be launched at the beginning of 2018, it will look virtually the same as this one. It will allow customers to embrace the GTI spirit at a more affordable starting price, one that will significantly undercut the forthcoming Polo GTI’s sticker
Meanwhile, the concept will be exhibited in the coming days at the annual GTI Meeting at Wörthersee where VW's apprentices are going to show a tricked-out Golf GTI from the current generation.