It's only taken five years, but there's finally a hot Volkswagen Up! on the horizon.
The GTI moniker is synonymous with the legendary Volkswagen Golf GTI that kickstarted the hot hatch craze. The Golf GTI was joined by its smaller sibling, the Polo GTI, and now there's a new member joining the GTI family. Meet the new Volkswagen Up! GTI which takes heavy inspiration from its granddaddy, the original Golf GTI. Set to debut at the Worthersee festival in Austria, the Up! GTI is being billed as a concept car for now, but VW promises that a production model will follow in 2018.
All the hallmarks of a GTI car are here, from the red-striped, honeycomb pattern grille, to the upgraded performance which sees the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo engine produce 113-hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a 0-62 mph time of 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph.
Those figures may not sound very scintillating, but VW is keen to stress that these are similar specs to the original Golf GTI from the 1970s, which had five less horsepower but a slightly slower 0-62 mph sprint time of nine seconds. It also has similar proportions to the original Golf GTI, making it seem like a spiritual successor to the grandaddy. Inside, the Up! GTI is of course clad with plaid seats, as well as a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel and a GTI gear knob. If you're still snarling at those specs, you're missing the point entirely. The Up! GTI only weighs 2,200 pounds, which, while slightly heavier than the original Golf GTI, nearly puts it in Lotus Elise territory.
New front and rear bumpers, a roof-mounted rear spoiler, and unique 17-inch alloy wheels help make it look more aggressive than the original compact city car. The suspension has been lowered by 0.6 inches and the compact city car features sports running gear for added agility that should make it handle like a go kart. The power may not be hair-raising, but it should still give you the confidence to chuck it into corners. In other words, it should be fantastically fun and rewarding to drive that harks back to the purity of the original, making it worthy of the GTI name.