The Up! GTI is the smallest GTI since the original and so has mostly been compared to the Mk1 Golf—the figures are pretty staggeringly similar, after all. But it’s easy to forget that it has actual competition.

The Renault Twingo GT is perfect competition for the Up! in a lot of ways. Both cars make around 110 hp, both weigh around about 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs), and both fit into Europe’s supermini segment. Best of all, the Twingo is French, so it’s a good old-fashioned European showdown.


And while we all feel a twinge of jealousy when we hear about the Up! GTI, the Twingo has a few advantages over the German. Whereas the VW dully puts its engine in the front, the French car intriguingly stuffs it in the back, sending power to that same end’s wheels.

Fortunately, in the 40-ish years since VW started stuffing engines into the front of its cars, they’ve learned a thing or two, and on a kart track in Milton Keynes—wherever that is—the handling advantage goes to the GTI.

In fact, as a package, Motor1's Vicky Parrot finds that the GTI is not only better on the diminutive track, but out on real roads, too. More comfortable, more practical, and more special, the Up! GTI is just better. Which, now that I think about it, is kind of a bummer because, since the Twingo is essentially a Smart Car, I could have probably driven it.

Crap.