Volkswagen is now officially selling the Up! GTI, the company’s third member of its hot hatch division, in Europe, but U.S. buyers won’t be getting one. It’s a shame, because the pocket rocket is actually a pretty charming and affordable small car.

But before the Up! GTI, Volkswagen had an equally cool car in this entry-level hot hatch segment. The Lupo GTI was actually more powerful than its successor – its 1.6-liter, 16-valve four cylinder naturally aspirated engine had 123 horsepower (92 kilowatts) versus the Up! GTI’s 113 hp (84 kW) coming from a turbocharged three-cylinder motor.

Interestingly, Volkswagen promoted the car as a true successor to the original first-generation Golf GTI and a competitor to the Mini Cooper at the same time. A mid-life refresh brought a six-speed gearbox and an improved throttle response to make it even more desirable.

Lupo GTI's modern successor:

The folks over at PacificCoastAuto, which showed us this amazing AMG-tuned Mitsubishi Galant late last year, have filmed a pretty rare example of the Lupo GTI – a Japanese-spec model from the facelift generation in a very good overall condition, exported to Canada. It has many cool features, which were otherwise not available on the regular Lupo, including bi-xenon headlights, 15-inch Bathurst alloy wheels, red stitching for the interior, and lovely twin central exhausts.

The GTI is not the only interesting version of the Lupo. Back in the early 2000s, Volkswagen wanted to create the first production vehicle consuming as little as three liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, which equals to about 78 miles per gallon. It had a three-cylinder 1.2-liter diesel engine with a turbocharger and direct injector, producing a peak power of 61 hp (45 kW). It was mated to a tiptronic transmission and had an engine start-stop system.

In order to achieve its goal, the German automaker decided to use lightweight aluminum and magnesium alloys for the doors, hood, rear hatch, seat frames, engine block, wheels, and suspension, lowering the weight to only 1,830 pounds (830 kilograms). It sounded awful, but was really economical.

Note: We've attached the original press release for the Lupo GTI.

Source: PacificCoastAuto on YouTube

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The LUPO GTI - Compact, powerful and fast

Uncompromising sporty appearance with 92 kW (125 bhp)
Independent body styling characterises pure dynamism

The Lupo GTI marks a further high point in the model series of the successful compact car. In addition to the innovative Lupo 3L TDI, the 92 kW (125 bhp) Lupo GTI reveals the most sporty facet of the compact Volkswagen series.

The Lupo GTI, with a top speed of 205 km/h, already gives a visual foretaste of its performance capability. Flared wings and sills and the voluminous spoiler bumper with its three striking air inlets at the front end give the Lupo GTI a beefy look. The interior further expresses the independent character of the Lupo GTI with sports seats, leather-covered steering wheel and red safety belts.

The Lupo GTI is powered by a 1.6-litre 16-valve engine. The four-cylinder unit, equipped with variable inlet camshaft, develops 92 kW (125 bhp). Despite the output developed, the power unit possesses exemplary environmental characteristics: It meets the limits of the Euro 4 exhaust standard, and its fuel consumption is low. On average it consumes only 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres covered.

The Lupo GTI is a little bundle of power that above all gives the driver a great deal of motoring enjoyment. High performance figures, for example acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds, are the result of the powerful drive unit combined with comprehensive lightweight body construction: bonnet, doors, and the bolt-on wings are made of lightweight aluminium. The Lupo GTI has a manual six-speed gearbox as standard.

The sporty character of the Lupo GTI is supported by a comprehensive safety equipment package. In addition to the self-evident ABS, ESP is also a part of the standard equipment. The dynamic Lupo is be on offer in five attractive external finishes: "black", "tornado red”, "reflex silver metallic" and "blue anthracite pearlescent". 

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