Do you remember the Volkswagen Lupo 3L? It was Volkswagen’s city car capable of returning 94 miles to the gallon – or three litres per 100 kilometres, the metric alternative, hence its ‘three-litre’ name.
An industry contact remembers it, too, and tells one of those stories whose origin I desperately want to be true. He was a journalist during the late 1990s and, at an upcoming Paris motor show, the tale goes, Volkswagen’s boss, Ferdinand Piëch, had got wind of the fact that Renault was preparing to unveil a Clio 3L on its stand.
Determined not to be outdone, Volkswagen executives hastily threw a plan together that involved whisking key motoring journalists from the Paris show, by helicopter, to Ceram, where they could not just see but drive the Lupo 3L. Take that, Renault.
Unperturbed, Renault went ahead with the launch of its own 3L Clio. Of a fashion. I would have loved to have seen the faces on VW’s executives when they realised it had a V6 engine where the rear seats used to be.