8 April 2004

Volkswagen will bolster its small car ranks early next year with a new Lupo city car. The conservatively styled newcomer is based on this Fox model (pictured), and will be built at VW’s sprawling Sao Jose dos Pinhais factory in Parana, Brazil.

The Fox name will change for Europe, and the new car will replace the six-year old Lupo in both three- and five-door forms. Our exclusive pictures reveal the five-door for the first time.

Despite a competitive £6800 starting price in the UK, VW’s new baby has allegedly been developed to exacting quality and technical standards and will be sold around the world. Insiders claim that annual capacity at Sao Jose dos Pinhais can stretch to more than one million cars, making the new Lupo a car worthy of VW’s ‘people’s car’ tag – something that could not be said of some of its more recent models.

Based on the same front-wheel-drive platform as the Polo, the Fox is 288mm longer, 85mm higher and shares the same 1640mm width as the outgoing Lupo. A 2465mm wheelbase adds a generous 145mm in cabin length over the car it replaces and Brazilian versions offer an optional sliding rear seat that lets owners juggle rear legroom/boot space.

With the rear seats in their forward-most position, boot capacity is 355 litres – up a huge 225 litres on the Lupo’s. Fold the rear seats away and capacity extends to 1015 litres. European versions of the Fox will offer standard anti-lock brakes and ESP electronic stability control, and even base models will come with front, side and curtain airbags.

In Brazil, the Fox is sold with 72bhp 1.2 and 103bhp 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrols, but these will be dropped to make way for engines meeting Euro4 emission standards.

Expect updated versions of the Lupo’s four-cylinder engines with VW’s FSI direct-injection technology in 75bhp 1.2, 90bhp 1.4 and 115bhp 1.6-litre forms. Diesels will include 60bhp 1.2 and 75bhp 1.4-litre TDi engines already seen in today’s Lupo and soon-to-be-facelifted Polo.

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