The Golf GTI is beloved for a reason. In its current version here in the U.S., the GTI is a five-door Volkswagen hatchback that can go get groceries just as competently as it can go autocrossing. But in markets abroad, the Golf is not the only VW that wears the GTI badge. In some European countries, the Polo and its little brother, the Up, bear the initials, too.
That’s not to mention the special models of the Golf GTI that we don’t get, like Mexico’s Golf GTI oettinger or Germany’s Golf GTI Clubsport 45. Never mind those for a sec, though, because we don’t get enough Polo and Up as it is.
VW announced a new Polo range, including the Polo GTI, days ago, after teasing the reveal. The Polo has a new design language and some mechanical reworking. We haven’t seen the GTI version, but we know how the new base Polo looks, and the GTI will build off of that. It will be available in European markets soon, though neither pricing nor specs have been revealed.
The outgoing generation of the Polo GTI had a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made about 203 horsepower and went from zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds. In Germany, this GTI started at €26,405, or about $32,000 including VAT. The new Polo GTI will likely exceed both the output and cost of the current one.
The Up GTI, on the other hand, hasn’t had a refresh in a while, and I suspect it may not get one. Volkswagen already sells an EV version of the Up, called the e-UP, so it makes sense that further development will settle on EV tech for it.
The Up GTI available now is powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine that makes about 114 HP, and even if it’s significantly less powerful than its bigger GTI siblings, it somewhat offsets the deficit with a reworked suspension to tighten its handling and make the best of its power output. It also has a great smartphone dock on its dashboard. In Deutschland, this smallest GTI starts at €18,815, or nearly $23,000, with VAT.
What I love about these GTI cars is that they offer not only different price points but different cargo and passenger capacities. Nine times out of 10, I prefer a solo drive to that of a social one. So I’m partial to small cars.
With the Up, Polo and Golf GTI models you get a nice range of hot hatches that goes from small to medium to large. Well, it may be more apt to flip the model order above and say small, smaller, smallest. The only market where all three GTIs are available seems to be Germany.
It makes sense that all of them are in VW’s home country, but I’m still pretty jealous. I think the Polo GTI splits the difference between the other two best, and it would probably be my pick — even if I do find the Up to be the most charming of the GTI trio.