Volkswagen is upping the stakes in the hot hatchback class – it’s brought back the original 1976 Golf GTI, daddy of all hot hatches!
MAY 19th 2017
VW Up! GTI might be the coolest modern hot hatch
Well, it’s brought it back in spirit at least – in reality, it’s a sporty version of the VW up! baby car. But in lots of ways – size, power, tartan seat trim – it mimics its ancestor, if not alas in the looks department. It still looks pretty neat though.
Shown here for the first time and to have its public unveiling at the annual GTI Meet at Lake Wörthersee in Germany (24th-27th May), the up! GTI is officially a “near-production concept” but Volkswagen is confident it will be in UK showrooms from early 2018, priced from around £15,000. Let’s hope we get right-hand drive from the start this time…
VW says the up! GTI (up GTI!?) is a tribute to the first GTI of 41 years ago, and “continues the creed of the lightweight and no-frills sports car… with key data reading like a Golf GTI MkI catapulted into the present day.”
Let’s see, shall we…
GTIs then and now
Model Golf GTI up! GTI
Year 1976 2017
Length 3700mm 3600mm
Engine 1.6 4cyl 1.0 3cyl
Power 108bhp 113bhp
Torque 104 lb-ft 170 lb ft
Weight 810kg 997kg
0-62mph 9.0 seconds 8.8 seconds
Top speed 113mph 122mph
Red grille stripes Yes Yes
Price £3986 (lhd) £15,000 est
There are still some gaps, as you would expect for a car at the concept stage. We don’t have all the dimensions, VW just saying that it is similar in size both inside and outside to the original GTI. It certainly weighs more but then safety gear like all the airbags account for a lot of that. And it does have a great deal more torque from the little turbocharged three-pot.
Apart from sportier looks and tartan trim, just as the original had, the up! GTI gets a lowered body, new design of 17-inch wheels and sports suspension for agility “akin to a go-kart”, according to VW, anyway. Inside there’s a leather steering wheel and a GTI gear knob – though for obvious reasons it ain’t no golf ball. Body colour choice is red, silver, black and white just like the original. There’s a blue as well.
Neat, nippy, compact and agile, VW’s baby GTI promises to be all these things, as well as half the price of some of the new breed of mega-GTIs. The up! in any form is a super little car and a sporty version of it has been a long time coming. Now it’s on its way, and invoking the name of its pioneering forebear, it’ll surely be a welcome 2018 newcomer.
We can definitely feel a twin test coming on…
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