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VW Up GTI pays tribute to the original hot hatch

Yes, there's plaid inside.

VW Up! GTI Concept

The original Volkswagen Golf GTI was the hot hatch that launched a thousand ships. In the years to come, automakers would fill the segment that VW built. But now VW is going back to its roots with a small, yet no less hot hatch once again.

The Up is a Euro-market subcompact hatchback, and the Up GTI turns up the wick in just about every way possible. Its diminutive 1.0-liter I3 puts out 113 horsepower (115 metric horsepower, or PS), which is 5 more horsepower than the original Golf GTI.

Only 26 more years until I can import one.


Despite being some 400 pounds heavier than the GTI of old, the Up GTI will hit 62 mph in 8.8 seconds. That might seem slow for a modern car, but again, it's both quicker and faster than the GTI of yore. The Up GTI hits 62 mph with 0.2 seconds to spare on the Golf, and its 122-mph top speed trumps the 113-mph top speed of its inspiration.

But a hot hatch isn't just power -- looks factor in, too, and the Up delivers. The front and rear bumpers are a bit more aggressive, the suspension sits 0.6 inch lower, and its 17-inch wheels fill the wheel wells nicely. There's a whole bunch of black accents and, of course, GTI badges out the wazoo.

The GTI labeling continues inside, with a GTI-branded steering wheel and the same shift knob you'd find on the current Golf GTI. Plaid seating is a staple of the GTI name, as well, and it's not like Volkswagen isn't aware of that. Yes, the seats are plaid, and yes, they're amazing.

While this has a snowball's chance in hell of coming to the US, this concept will eventually become a production model in Europe. It's slated to arrive in production form -- which should look incredibly close to the concept seen here -- in 2018. That means we only have 26 years until it's eligible for importing and titling in the US. Better start arranging the paperwork now.

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