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The Volkswagen Up GTI is an adorable hot hatch

Can’t afford the Golf GTI? Maybe this one’s for you

This is probably the cutest hot hatch in the entire history of hot hatches. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

The Volkswagen Up is an award-winning city car that has found many fans around the world since its launch in 2011. Available in three- and five-door variants, the tiny town cruiser even won World Car of the Year in 2012 and has made a name for itself as a stylish and reliable runabout for busy city dwellers. Sadly, it is not yet available in the Philippines, but we sincerely hope this might change in the near future, as the German automaker has just unveiled a seriously tempting GTI version that looks like a proper bundle of fun.

Don't let that charming exterior fool you. This thing can zip faster than your car. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

Simply called the Up GTI, the latest model to carry the famous three letters comes with a modified version of the 1.0-liter TSI engine that produces 115hp and 200Nm, which is enough to propel the 3.6m-long and 1,070kg funbox from a standstill to 100km/h in 8.8 seconds, with a respectable top speed of 196km/h being part of the package. Gear changes are done using a six-speed manual transmission, and VW promises go-kart-like handling thanks to new sports running gear and a sharpened ratio of the electromechanical power steering.

The 1.0-liter TSI engine has been tweaked to produce 115hp and 200Nm. PHOTO FROM VOLKSWAGEN

Despite all this sportiness, the Up GTI is also designed to be kind to your wallet and the environment. Fuel consumption has been optimized by, among other things, adjusting the camshafts of the 999cc turbo block, with the result being a very respectable 17.5-17.8km/L under the new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, or WLTP, which checks fuel consumption in real-life operation on the road. Under the old way of measuring and reporting these figures, the car even returns 20.8km/L, but the really amazing thing about this engine is the new close-coupled petrol particulate filter that manages to reduce particulate emissions by up to 95%. This latest piece of clean tech and an extra three-way catalytic converter mean the car already complies with Euro 6 emission standards.

A quick, small car would be a godsend to Metro Manila motorists right now. PHOTOS FROM VOLKSWAGEN

In its press release, Volkswagen repeatedly compares the Up GTI with the hot hatch that started it all, the Golf GTI MkI. And although mentioning the fast forefather of this snappy little city car may seem like a move straight out of the emotional marketing playbook, the company has actually tried to keep some of the DNA of the original version alive. Buyers, for example, can choose from a range of classic GTI single-tone colors, such as pure white, red, dark silver metallic and black pearl. Plus, the red, white and silver versions can also be ordered with an optional black roof. A black rear door, double stripes across the side sill panels, and prominent GTI badges round up the exterior that stands on new 17-inch alloy wheels named after the legendary “Brands Hatch” racetrack in the UK.

Classic GTI design elements can be found inside. Check out the tartan seat fabric. PHOTOS FROM VOLKSWAGEN

Inside, passengers sit on the same classic red, white and black tartan fabric pattern that adorned the original GTI in 1976, with a black liner covering the ceiling above their heads while the six-speaker audio system and the red ambient lighting create the perfect atmosphere to think about the origins of the GTI.

With the current Golf GTI costing at least P2.29 million in our market, the Up GTI could be a perfect and very popular addition to the lineup of Volkswagen Philippines. In Germany, the car sells for €16,975 (P1,051,000). Even with import duties and other taxes added, it could still be a really affordable way to own a GTI. Considering the car’s low fuel consumption and high fun factor, we really want to get our hopes up—pun intended, obviously—that Volkswagen will bring it over to our shores. Fingers crossed!

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.