When the first VW GTI was released in 1974, the hot hatch introduced the world to a brand new segment of cars. The GTI has evolved over the years, getting heavier and faster, but its spirit still lives on.
VW wants to return to the yonder year of the its first hot hatch with the introduction of the Up GTI concept that has a similar petite frame and minuscule engine that doesn’t disappoint.
The VW Up GTI is a two-door hatch concept that carries more than just the spirit of the original GTI. VW’s Up GTI sports a modified version of the original GTI’s 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. The new engine is updated from 108 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque to 113 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Up GTI will hit zero to 60 in 8.8 seconds and tops out at 122 miles per hour.
The original version is still lighter than the Up GTI in weight by 302 pounds, but that’s mostly due to new safety equipment necessary in more modern cars.
The concept’s design is quite eye catching. It’s a big deviation from the current Mark VII Golf GTI, instead opting to pave its own identity. Aggressive front and back bumpers accent the rounded design complemented by the impressive 17-inch wheels. The honeycombed grill, red caliper brakes and rear wing are also nice touches.
The Up GTI also continues the tradition with signature plaid seats and the front red line GTIs are known for.
The Up GTI is all agility and fun, not specs and power
The Up GTI is not here to compete with 800-horsepower muscle cars. It’s supposed to be a blast from the past, when power was limited but the small frame made the engine feel like a rocket. It’s similar to the what Mazda has done with the Miata. Power and weight are kept a minimum, but it’s still a blast to buzz around corners.
Unfortunately, the Up GTI concept will never make to the U.S. market. A production model similar to the concept will only be made for Europe.
Check out the video down below VW made of a non-production Up GTI racing a first-gen GTI on a race track. It’s a lot of fun.