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Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen Up GTI

Overall verdict
You can tell it’s not had squillions spent developing it, but if you like hot hatches simple and scrappy, the Up GTI is a little tonic


Small size, low weight, peppy noise, tartan seats. Big smiles at sociable speeds with low running costs


The ride’s crashy and the gearbox gets crunchy when rushed. You might be happier with a regular turbo’d Up


What is it?

On paper, this is merely a VW city car featuring a lightly turbocharged 113bhp engine pinched from a Polo. Rocket science it ain’t. But the Up GTI is more important than such a clinical summing-up. It has the potential to be a new cult car – to kickstart a new generation’s obsession with hot hatchbacks. 

When the Up GTI first went on sale in early 2018, it cost just £13,000. Since then, it’s been off sale for a few months while VW’s constrained supply caught up with demand – and so did the company accountants. As of summer 2020, an Up GTI will set you back £16,140 for an option-free three-door. So, it’s not quite the bargain it once was. Then again, as the Suzuki Swift Sport has lost its way and costs over £20k, the Up GTI is arguably in a class of one anyway.

It’s available as a three-door or a five-door, but beyond that there’s little to decide beyond which colour looks best (we’d vote for red or white). There’s no automatic flappy-paddle gearbox on offer, nor adaptive suspension. You don’t even get a Sport driving mode. This is a simple car. A hot hatchback the way they used to be. 

The Up GTI has been on plenty of adventures with Top Gear. We pitted one against the other end of the Volkswagen Group’s fast car spectrum – the Bugatti Chiron. It joined us at our 2017 Speed Week extravaganza, and even won our Pocket Rocket of the Year award. Because while the Up GTI isn’t perfect, it’s certainly loveable. 

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
1.0 115PS Up GTI 3dr
8.8s 110g/km 58.9 115 £15,690
The cheapest
1.0 Take Up 3dr [Start Stop]
14.4s 100g/km 60 £9,955
The greenest
1.0 Beats 5dr
14.9s 100g/km 64.2 60 £13,305