Visual heat, anyway.
We’ve seen many custom vehicles from Vilner. Usually, they involve something rather exotic like a Porsche 911 treated to leather and wood, or at least more muscular like an upgraded Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. This time around, attention is given to an unlikely but often-loved automotive hero: The spritely Volkswagen Up! GTI.
In a world of 1,000-horsepower hypercars, the subcompact Up! hatchback generally qualifies as basic transportation. Even in hotter GTI trim the car manages just 113 hp, but it carries the soul of the original hot hatchback, the first generation Golf GTI and for that reason, it shines brightly in the hearts of hot hatch enthusiasts. In fact, it burns so brightly for the owner of this particular model that Vilner was called upon to make it shine even brighter.
Gallery: Volkswagen up! GTI by Vilner Garage
If this Up! GTI looks familiar, that’s because it’s nearly identical to another customized Up! built by UK-based Milltek. We say nearly identical because the red and gray graphics are a dead match, but various brandings on Vilner’s creation are different. The number on the door is also different – 35 was the original number but here it’s 21, which holds some special significance to the Up! GTI’s owner. The wheels are factory original, but minor additions to the interior complement the traditional plaid trim.
The upfit by Vilner is purely cosmetic. It certainly gives the Up! GTI a boy racer presence, but the boosted 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine is untouched. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed manual, and when everything is working just right, the little hatch reaches 60 mph in just under nine seconds. That’s not asphalt-scorching by any stretch of the imagination, but with a tuned suspension and a weight of only 2,200 pounds, it’s a veritable go-kart that loves to three-wheel its way around corners.
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