While Volkswagen continues its sober-suited, super-successful sales push, hidden away at the German carmaker there is clearly a Ministry of Mischief at work.

Somewhere in the background it seems there are teams of designers and engineers developing playful cars just for the hell of it.

And every now and again, one of these naughty children sneaks out of class to bring a bit of fun to the outside world.

The latest is the up! GTI that comes with its own blizzard of facts.

The pocket rocket’s turbocharged 999cc three-cylinder 12-valve petrol engine delivers 115 horsepower, develops 200Nm of torque and has a 0-62mph time of 8.8 seconds. All this with the prospect of fuel consumption topping 50mpg.

But the stand-out statistic is that it costs just £14,000. I say just because other manufacturers are pricing their hottest hatches at anything up to £5,000 more.

What you get for the money is a four-seater bundle of pure enjoyment. Slide into the driver’s seat and you are surrounded by full GTI trim from tartan seat fabric and GTI door sill panel trims, to a multifunction GTI steering wheel with red stitching and a GTI logo in the vertical spoke.

In addition to the GTI insignia inside and out the car is given an upgraded equipment package ranging from an upmarket six-speaker radio system and USB interface, to air conditioning, heated seats electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors and front fog lights with static cornering lights.

A special GTI gear knob sits on the shift for the slick six-speed manual gearbox that delights in playing a range of exhaust notes as you buzz up and down the box sending the little car towards its peak power at 5,000rpm.

Sitting a little lower on the road than other up! models, it is the kart-like handling that makes the front-wheel-drive up! GTI such fun to hustle around and its sound sticks in your mind long after you have finished driving.

As an illustration of how even small cars have grown over the years, the dimensions, kerb weight and performance of the up! GTI are pretty similar to those of the original Golf GTI, launched in 1976.

Volkswagen is on a sales roll with more than 4.1m cars sold in the first eight months of the year, with the Golf and Polo the second and third best-selling cars respectively.

In the UK alone, Volkswagen has sold more than 141,000 cars so far this year taking nine per cent of the market.

The up! is the fifth best-selling car in the Volkswagen range in the UK, with sales of 13,555 last year.

The up! GTI three-door is priced from £13,750 on the road, with the five-door version costing £400 more.

Scott Fisher, product affairs manager of Volkswagen UK, while outlining three reasons you have to drive the up! GTI, believes it is the ‘most fun you can have in a car for about £14,000’. I wouldn’t argue.

Auto facts

Model: Volkswagen up! GTI

Price: £14,150

Insurance group: 17E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 58.9mpg

Top speed: 122mph

Length: 360cm/141.7in

Width: 191cm/75.1in

Luggage capacity: 8.8 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 7.7 gallons/35 litres

CO2 emissions: 110 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles