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by Sam Rawlings

Volkswagen is rumoured to be developing a range-topping GTI variant of its small Up! hatch, according to a new report.

British car magazine AutoCar claims officials at the firm’s headquarters in Germany are planning the new GTI model as a rival to the Abarth 595.

It is believed that such a model would help to improve the image and overall appeal of the company’s entry-level hatch to offer with the offer of sporting looks and performance.

The report says the car will be powered by a tuned version of the company’s EA211 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine.

The engine is currently used in the Golf Bluemotion TSI and the new Audi A3 range where it has been tuned to produce 85kW/200Nm.

2016-volkswagen-up-2

The regular version of the engine is set to power the soon-to-launch facelifted Up! in some markets.

By comparison, the purported Up! GTI’s key competitor – the Abarth 595 – makes 103kW/206Nm from its 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit and can reach the 100km/h mark in a claimed 7.9 seconds.

A prototype of the Up! GTI – which AutoCar claims to have driven – has a top speed of 200km/h and a 0-100km/h time of 8.0 Seconds.

The GTI’s engine would likely be matched to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Should the reports prove accurate and an Up! GTI enters production, the variant would likely also gain a number of chassis and suspension tweaks as well as the usual GTI-specific visual enhancements like larger alloy wheels, wider skirts and a twin chrome exhaust.

Given the Up! hatch was discontinued in Australia back in 2014, it’s extremely unlikely a ‘hot’ Up! GTI will makes its way to local dealerships.

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