When I assume my rightful place as leader of our glorious country, I’ll make it compulsory for all those who are contemplating buying a fast car for primarily recreational purposes to drive an Up! GTI first. Not because I would seek to limit their right to spend more money on something less good, but because I think many would be surprised.
The formula is neither novel or new, but it is effective. Put a characterful little engine in an ultra-compact package and make sure those charged with tuning and delivering the finished article know what they’re doing, and it’s actually quite hard to go wrong. The Ford Fiesta ST is one shining example of this approach, and the Up! GTI is another.
It shouldn’t be as good as it is. The Up! isn’t fresh off the drawing board. In fact, it’s in its 10th year of production and the GTI’s 114bhp motor isn’t going to leave a trail of molten Tarmac behind it. But with a capacity of less than a litre in a car weighing under a ton, it more than makes up in growling, triple- cylinder charm what it may lack in punch.
In its preferred B-road environment, it feels not just fun, but fast, because it is compact, accurate, grippy and responsive. You could spend twice this amount and end up having half the fun in any number of more powerful machines. Just before you do, have a run in one of these – before I make you.
2020 Volkswagen UP! GTI statistics
- Price £15,895
- Engine 1 litre, 3 cylinders, turbocharged
- Power 114bhp at 5500rpm
- Weight 995kg
- Power to weight 116bhp per tonne
- Transmission 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
- 0-60mph 8.8sec
- Top speed 122mph
- Economy 53.3mpg
- CO2 120g/km
- Verdict Before you break the bank, all we’re saying is, give this a go