Volkswagen Up 1.0 TSI: Spotted

The Up GTI is a worthy winner, but could you achieve the same for a lot less

I agree with Dafydd that the Up GTI is a nice car. I’ve had a go in one earlier this year and loved its cheeky character, diminutive dimensions, lightness, but most importantly, the additional power over the weedy naturally aspirated Up. However, I’ve also driven a normal, turbocharged Up and was also impressed by its cheeky character, diminutive dimensions, lightness, but most importantly, the additional power over the weedy natural aspirated Up. This has gotten me thinking, could you do an Up GTI on the cheap?

Now, I know this is going to sound like the classic case of relieving oneself all over another person’s (or in this case, Volkswagen’s) bonfire, but I don’t think the Up GTI is significantly different over the regular car to justify the expense. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that like most modern cars it’ll err on the side of caution and the stability control will cut in early to kill any tyre-scrabbling antics just like the regular car, and both change direction just as quickly because of their relative lack of weight. Other than an extra ratio in the gearbox, you are actually splitting hairs trying to tell them apart.

Volkswagen could have gone quite a lot further with this car, but didn’t. And why should they have bothered to, because what competition does it actually have? The Renault Twingo GT is a dud and the only fans of the Abarth 595 are chiropractors because the ride does your back in.So, I propose that you could buy yourself a standard, used 1.0-litre TSI Up with its 89bhp engine and then employ the services of a tuning specialist to fiddle with the ECU to up the power. The GTI has 115hp and produces 148lb ft of torque from 2,000-3,500rpm, which are very healthy numbers for a tiddly little car. A quick search on Google brings up a number of tuning companies, but I found one that says it can up your Up’s potential to 131hp and 183lb ft of torque at 3,250rpm. Serious numbers that they say are within tolerance. So much so, they’ll back up their work with a 12-month/30,000-mile warranty.

Are there drawbacks? Well, yes. Firstly, I think Volkswagen will take a dim view of any modification you do and will use that to invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty on the engine. You’ll also need to inform your insurer to keep things above board. However, you’ll end up with the ultimate Q-car Up that will be faster than the more obvious GTI version. Get yourself a High Up like the one we’ve found and barring the sixth gear, you’ll have the same specification as the GTI, and all for thousands less than the £14,055 car PH currently has on its fleet. I know I’m tempted…


Engine: 999cc, three-cylinder, turbo
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power(hp): 89@5,000rpm
Torque(lb ft): 118@2,000-3,500rpm
MPG: 64.2mpg
CO2: 101g/km
First registered: 2018
Recorded mileage: 5,000 miles
Price new: £13,120
Yours for: £10,999

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