Top Gear is getting ready to declare a Performance Car of the Year, but before it can do that it needs to thoroughly examine the cars on offer. Among the supercars and the hypercars, there’s one contender that you’d struggle to even call a sports car: the Up! GTI.

Yes, the Up! GTI with its 100-ish hp and 8.8 seconds-to-60 acceleration figures seems like it’s outclassed in the field. But like golf, performance isn’t always about the biggest numbers.


Unlike the competition, which is actively involved in the conspiracy to end your life with high speeds and Gs, the Up! is a friendlier kind of performance car. Tipping the scales at less than 1,000 kg (just a shade under 2,200 lbs), the Up! has nearly the same power to weight ratio as the original Golf GTI. That makes it one of the only performance cars on this list whose performance can be achieved.

As Top Gear puts it, “This car is all about tactility, it’s about agility, it’s about involvement. It’s not really about going as fast as possible.”

With tiny little wheels, placed all the way out at the corners, it’s more like a go-kart than any of the race-car-wannabes that it’s competing against. And though we all dream of a race car, nothing’s more fun than karting.