Of all the performance labels in the automotive sphere, GTI is undoubtedly one of the most respected.

Slap those three letters on any car and you’ll immediately have the attention of any petrolhead and that rule isn’t exclusive to Volkswagen; Peugeot have applied them with great effect to the 205 and 308 in the far and not so distant past.

Volkswagen up! GTI badge

So when VW announced it was going to crank up the heat on its Up city car – the baby of the current VW range – it’s suffice to say interest was rife.

Now the mainstream motoring media has had its wicked way with the pocket-rocket, we’ve taken a look at what they make of the Up, post GTI treatment…

‘Seriously competitive’

Auto Express awarded the Up GTI three-and-a-half stars out of five, which seemed a particularly average score considering all the nice things they had to say about it.

Volkswagen up! GTI

The motoring weekly magazine hailed the Up GTI as “well priced, well made and well equipped” for its £13,750 asking price (£14,120 if you want the five-door).

While the 113bhp three-cylinder TSI engine was labelled a strong point (enabling a 8.8-second 0-62mph time), the brakes and chassis were deemed to be less so.

Volkswagen up! GTI rear

However, AE concluded the car was “seriously competitive” when placed alongside the almost £18k Fiat 500 Abarth and the slower, “less good” Renault Twingo GT.

With a headline like ‘pound for pound, the most fun you can have on four wheels’, you’d have reason to suspect that The Telegraph let VW write its four-star review.

Tunnel trouble

The Telegraph’s Ed Wiseman was keen to clarify that the Up GTI was definitely a ‘warm hatch’ rather than a hot hatch, if only due to not having a power output that started with a ‘3’.

Volkswagen up! GTI action

Regardless, Ed believed the car’s fun factor is more important than its pace and its ‘tiny footprint and light steering’ delivers a bootload of thrills.

There’s the tacky matter of artificial sound augmentation to discuss though, with a physical box mounted in the Up GTI’s footwell that loosely amplifies the engine note.

Volkswagen up! GTI interior

“It also makes it one of the few cars that don’t sound better in a tunnel,” writes Ed. “To the outside world, the Up GTI sounds a lot like a regular Up.”

Car Magazine didn’t hold back, dishing out all five stars. They admitted that 113bhp doesn’t sound very powerful, but like the Telegraph, its success lies with how it drives and they reckon “it’s an absolute hoot”.

Volkswagen up! GTI wheel

“It’s all about nippy fun and thrashing it for all of its worth – it just puts a huge smile on your face,” they add.

Top Gear gave it a reserved seven out of ten, saying the car was “designed to give buyers a taste of what a GTI is, but not the full experience”.


Volkswagen up! GTI side

So there you go, the general consensus is that the Up GTI is lots of fun, with verdicts ranging from quite positive to outright approval.

One thing you’re guaranteed with this car is a great time, so if you have £14k to blow, the Up GTI would be a sound option.

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