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Volkswagen Lupo (1999 - 2006)

WOLFIE SCHMIDT (some text hidden)

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introductionword count: 110

The Volkswagen Lupo Citycar suddenly turned Volkswagen's reputation for staid design on its head. With its wacky interior trims, cutesy face and jaunty colour schemes, the Lupo acted as a precursor to the even more extrovert Beetle range, showing that the bosses of Volkswagen had something other than sensible shoes in their locker. What the Lupo brought to the Citycar sector was a palpable sense of quality - a factor that had been sorely lacking in many of its rivals, although the Volkswagen was based on the impressive SEAT Arosa. As a used buy it's at the expensive end of the sector, but few rivals have such an upmarket appeal.

Modelsword count: 15

Models Covered: (3dr hatch 1.0, 1.4 petrol, 1.4, 1.6, 1.7 diesel [E, S, SE, Sport,GTI])

Historyword count: 172

Launched in February 1997, the Lupo was named after the Latin word for wolf. Its appearance certainly didn't appear particularly menacing, however, but the name was apparently chosen to appeal to females who had a habit of 'naming' their cars. Cynical or smart? You decide. The range consisted of a base 1.0-litre 50bhp E model, E and S trim levels with a 1.4-litre 75bhp unit and the same designations accompanying a 60bhp 1.7-litre diesel engine. In May 1999, a more powerful version of the 1.4-litre unit was developed, generating a punchy 100bhp, and this was installed in a new model, the 1.4-litre Sport. A 75bhp 1.4-litre TDI turbo diesel was launched in summer 2000, which boasted an impressive three-cylinder engine. At the same time a high-value 1.0-litre SE trim level was added for a limited period, undercutting the prices of all other Lupo models, whilst still offering a decent level of equipment. Early in 2001, a hot GTI version joined the line-up. The Fox arrived to replace the Lupo in Spring 2006.

What You Getword count: 266

Until the Lupo arrived, Volkswagen interiors were renowned for quality and were about as much fun as a thumb in the eye. All that was about to change. Instead of the usual rather boring layout, it's all rather a shock. In a rush of blood to the head, the German designers decided on silver-rimmed Italianate twin instrument dials featuring Allen bolts and soothing blue backlighting at night. It's all rather funky, creating the kind of car that makes you feel good about yourself. Yet at the same time, it all feels comfortably sensible too. There's the unrivalled Volkswagen build quality as well as a host of nice detail touches that set the Lupo apart from sensible Citycars: the expensively textured dash plastics, the soft-return grab handles, the standard seat and wheel height adjustment. It's all screwed together with just the same kind of quality you'd find in a £25,000 Volkswagen Passat. And, just like the Passat, twin front airbags are standard on all models - uniquely in this class. Standard power steering is nice too, and new buyers also got a three year unlimited mileage warranty and twelve years of anti-corrosion cover which will be of benefit to used purchasers. Accommodation? Well, it's much as you would expect. There's plenty of room at the front but really comfortable only for kids at the back. Don't go expecting too much of the boot either, it's one of those items that makes you laugh aloud when you first encounter it. Rear seat passengers will find their heads uncomfortably close to both the tailgate window and any close-following traffic.

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Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Small Runabouts

Performance
60%
Handling
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Comfort
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Space
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