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Volkswagen up! GTI, Golf GTI Performance and Polo GTI, 2018, track 3
Volkswagen up! GTI, 2018, front
Volkswagen up! GTI, 2018, rear
Volkswagen up! GTI, 2018, interior
Volkswagen up! GTI, 2018, steering wheel
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2018, front
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2018, side
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2018, rear
Volkswagen Polo GTI, 2018, interior
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, side
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, rear
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, interior
Volkswagen up! GTI, Golf GTI Performance and Polo GTI, 2018, track 1
Volkswagen up! GTI, Golf GTI Performance and Polo GTI, 2018, track 2
Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 with Golf GTI Performance, 2018,
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, badge
Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance, 2018, brake calliper

THREE hot hatches are now available in the Volkswagen stable as the German car brand expands its GTI line up to include the up! and Polo alongside the legendary Golf.

And there are some surprises in store for the baby of the bunch is a revelation.

The up! GTI is in every way the spiritual successor to the Peugeot 205 GTi - the iconic hot hatch of the 1980s.

Zippy, agile and so much fun to drive, the up! GTI may sit at the top of VW's current city car range but priced from £13,755 it's a veritable bargain.

We got the chance to sample all three GTIs at the Ascari circuit in southern Spain and none failed to impress.

Powered by a 1.0-litre three cylinder engine boosted to 115ps, the little up! is dressed in true GTI fashion with Jacara tartan upholstery, red stitching and a special GTI gear knob and steering wheel as well as smart red-check dashboard facing.

Outside, as well as GTI insignia front, side and rear, side stripes and bespoke sill panels it sits on 17-inch alloys and comes with lowered suspension while extra kit includes heated seats, air conditioning and an upgraded hi-fi system.

It's a six-speed manual and with a 0 to 60 time of 8.8 seconds and top end of 122mph it is as close to the original Golf GTI of 1976 as you can get in a modern VW.

With 200 Nm of torque on stream from as low as 2,000rpm, the up! GTI belies the performance data and its go-kart like handling is a delight. Five door versions start from £14,155 and it's little surprise there's a six month waiting list for VW's new pocket rocket.

The up! GTI is also the first Volkswagen to undergo the new WLTP and real driving emissions tests which rate it at between 49.6 and 50.4mpg with CO2 outputs of 129 to 127g/km.

Away from the track and on the road that proved highly accurate and we averaged 50 to the gallon with ease.

That wasn't far away from the 47mpg we averaged in the Polo GTI. Although some £8,000 more expensive it is the most powerful version of the new Polo so far with 200ps on tap from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Now almost as big as the Golf, the latest Polo GTI packs in plenty of performance and big car features such as the second generation of VW's Active Info display instrumentation and glass encased infotainment systems.

The acceleration is a brisk 6.7 seconds 0 to 60 and it tops out at 148mph. Officially it is rated at 48mpg with emissions of 134g/km and that's for a car with a six-speed dual clutch transmission. Manual versions are due for introduction early next year.

It's now a five-door model and cabin space has increased significantly over the previous Polo. So too has the boot which at 351 litres is some 25 per cent bigger than before.

On the road the Polo GTI is an enthusiastic performer with sports suspension and an electronic diff-lock for added composure.

In the GTI fraternity it is much more family-oriented than the more potent Golf which now comes with a 245ps 2.0-litre engine in Performance specification, up from 230ps in the regular model and accounting for almost half of Golf GTI sales in the UK.

The Golf GTI Performance is priced from £29,565 for a three-door manual to £31,390 for a five-door fitted with a seven speed DSG transmission and is aimed at those who want the latest from the car which first attained cult status 42 years ago.

Like the Polo GTI, the Golf comes with multi-mode drive patterns and a full suite of safety systems but all-round is in a league of its own.

With a top speed of 155mph and 0 to 60 time of 6.2 seconds the Golf GTI Performance is an awesome performer and rated at between 43 and 45mpg (148 to 144g/km) depending on gearbox, although we could manage only low 30s with the DSG version the most economical.

Each of the GTIs has its own characteristics - the Golf for the purists, the Polo for those who want a sporty hatch and the up! for those who just want to have fun - but all are immensely capable in their own right.

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