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Frankfurt show: Volkswagen hots Up

Featherweight champion: Volkswagen has turned its tiny Up city car into a hot hatch with the GT concept.

Spiritual ancestor of original VW Golf GTI among a host of Up concepts at Frankfurt

16 Sep 2011

VOLKSWAGEN might head back to the future with a sporty version of its recently-unveiled Up city-car that harks back to the original Golf GTI of the 1970s.

As we’ve already reported, the German company unveiled a slew of concepts based on the Up in Frankfurt this week in its public premiere of the production three-door mini that will spawn an entire family on the new small platform.

While the Wolfsburg marque has limited the engine line-up in the standard Up to a modest 55kW, it says the design could handle much more power.

As a result, the diminutive GT Up concept is powered by a 74kW version of the standard car’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine.

Hardly earth-shattering, but its feather-light 900kg kerb weight ensures the concept has a similar power-to-weight ratio to the conceptually similar first-generation Golf GTI.

The hunkered-down GT concept has a much more aggressive face that the standard Up, featuring a large honeycomb grille within the revised bumper, flanked by a pair of brake cooling intakes with integrated ‘wing-shaped’ LED daytime running lights.

Other cosmetic enhancements include painted side sills, black door mirrors, a rear roof-mounted spoiler and intricate 17-inch alloy wheels matched to wider tyres.

At the back of the car is a pair of chrome-tipped exhaust pipes, which come courtesy of a revised exhaust system that, according t the car-maker, gives the concept a “powerful sound”.

3 center imageLeft: Volkswagen Up family, e-Up, Cross Up, Buggy Up, Up Azzurra.

The inlays on the GT’s anthracite seats are finished in a blue checked pattern – a variation of the signature red trim pattern found on GTI versions of the Polo and Golf. Air vents have blue highlights.

While production has not be confirmed, the Up GT would slot neatly into the Volkswagen range beneath GTI variants of the Golf and Polo to give the German car-maker a hot-hatch triumvirate.

Among the six new Up-based concepts unveiled at the Frankfurt show, the only variants so far confirmed for production are the fully-electric e-Up and the Eco Up, powered by natural gas.

The e-Up – to be launched in 2013 – uses a 60kw/210Nm electric motor and 18kWh battery pack. It can reach a top speed of 135km/h and can travel about 130km on a single charge.

The Eco Up combines a gas-powered version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine producing 50kW with fuel-saving BlueMotion technology like idle-stop to keep emissions down to just 79 grams of CO2 per kilometre. Volkswagen says it will hit the road in 2012.

The Cross Up concept, meanwhile, previews what the five-door Up model will look like when it eventually lobs and which seems to be a lock for the local market.

Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Anke Koeckler told GoAuto’s correspondent at the Frankfurt show: “We recognise that if we want to release the best-selling Up, then it has to be the five-door model.”

The masculine design of concept car, with its chunky wheels arches and slim body cladding, also hints at the possibility of a crossover-type variant down the line.

A pair of beach-themed Up models also appeared at the show, with the lurid orange Buggy Up concept taking a leaf from the book of the rugged Beetle-based Baja buggys from California in the swinging 1960s.

The Up Azzurra, meanwhile, was partially penned by famed Italian design house Giugiaro, and takes its inspiration from nautical environments across the Mediterranean.

The concept – which derives its name from the Azzurra sailing team – features neither doors nor a roof, which Volkswagen says gives the feeling of being aboard a boat.

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