The micro hot hatch category has been dominated by the Abarth range – though this is so niched only hardcore fans ever knew the segment even existed.
But the hardcore baby Fiat – which goes through the Abarth process and comes out incredibly expensive but also awesome sounding (performance is a bit shabby, but the soundtrack is great) – will soon have alleged competition. That’s because Volkswagen apparently took notice of the possible sales increase here and is secretly working on a facelifted Up adorned with the legendary GTI badge. VW is looking to increase the appeal of the entry-level model using this flagship GTI model, according to sources from within the engineering headquarters in Braunschweig, Germany.
This project will make use of an upgraded variant of the brand’s newly minted turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and come after the facelifted Up hits the markets. Inside the latter, the new EA211 unit has 90 hp and 118lb ft of torque. But the GTI should make use of the version that sits inside the Golf Bluemotion TSI, where it packs 115 hp and 147lb ft of torque – enough to bring the Up in line with the Abarth 595 due to its under one ton dry weight. By the way, this output matches the naturally aspirated 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine of the first generation Golf GTI, so the heritage goes down to that 1975 icon. The increased grunt will be matched by an upgraded chassis with new suspension settings and lowered ride height and a plethora of GTI-inspired design elements.