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27th of May 2017

Automotive



The VW Up! GTi is the sub-Golf hatch America needs

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European automakers routinely keep smaller and more "reasonably priced" cars out of the U.S., and Volkswagen  is no exception, having denied the States the sub-Golf Polo and Lupo models. But that doesn't mean the current crop of pocket-size VeeDubs isn't fun. Wolfsburg unveiled the GTi version of its popular VW Up! city car this week, packing a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder good for 113 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque. That's more horsepower than the original Golf GTi, which produced 108 hp and 104 lb-ft of torque all the way back in 1976, courtesy of a 1.6-liter four-cylinder and, more importantly, more power than a new Fiat 500.

With a curb weight of 2,198 pounds, the Up! GTi doesn't need a lot of power to move itself around. Paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, the Up! GTi offers a 0-62 mph sprints in 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph. It's quicker than the original Golf GTi, but not by a huge margin: The 1976 Golf GTi could sprint to 62 mph in 9.0 seconds flat and had a top speed of 113 mph, but we have a feeling the VW Up! GTi serves up much crisper handling in addition to far better stopping power.

2018 VW Up! GTi rear

The GTi model features a revised body kit, suspension and appearance package.

Volkswagen Lupo

What else does it have to offer? In addition to revised front and rear fascias, the GTi model features a MacPherson strut suspension up front and a torsion beam in the rear, sportier springs and dampers compared to the base Up!, and a lowered ride height along with larger 17-inch wheels. Red-painted calipers, a black stripe and a cap-bill spoiler complete the list of visual tweaks.

VW plans to officially reveal the Up! GTi at next week's Worthersee VW enthusiast gathering in Austria, ahead of the start of sales in Europe and other markets later this year. As you've probably guessed by now, there are no plans to offer any version of the Up! in the U.S. -- VW wants you to splurge on the Golf -- but we're sure many VW fans (or just commuters) would love to see a small city car from VW offered in the U.S.

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