In-depth reviews

Volkswagen up! GTI review - Engines, performance and drive

The up! GTI is a hugely enjoyable pocket rocket, but it’s not perfect.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Huge fun to drive
  • Low running costs
  • Interior quality
  • ESP can’t be turned off
  • Steering lacks feel
  • Standard up! is nearly as much fun

The GTI’s 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers 113bhp and 200Nm of torque. These figures might not seem impressive in an era of hot hatchbacks producing 300bhp, but the car weighs a featherlight 1,070kg.

This means performance is lively enough and there’s plenty of fun to be had extracting the best from the three-cylinder engine using the slick six-speed manual gearbox. If anything, it puts us in mind of the Mk1 Golf GTI, albeit with the latest tech and some added safety nets.

It’s arguably the perfect GTI for Britain’s tight and congested roads. It’s as much fun to thread the up! GTI through a succession of mini-roundabouts as it is to tackle a series of bends on your favourite B-road. The digitally enhanced engine note simply adds to the theatre.

It’s not perfect. The stability control is too keen to interfere when you’re having fun and there’s no way of turning it off. The gearbox is fine, but it can be a little notchy when you’re pushing hard. These irritations, along with the slightly lifeless steering, stop the up! GTI from being an all-time great.

But don’t let any of this put you off, because the Volkswagen up! GTI is a fabulous car to drive and a welcome tonic to the lardy SUVs and performance cars.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The up! GTI will accelerate to 62mph in 8.8 seconds before hitting a top speed of 122mph. Brisk rather than rapid, then, but you’ll have plenty of fun testing Volkswagen’s claims. The Suzuki Swift Sport manages the same benchmark in 9.1 seconds, although is capable of a 130mph maximum.

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