What they said when the Volkswagen Fox was new… (Apr 24 2006 )
VOLKSWAGEN was probably a bit disappointed with sales of its small city car, the Lupo. In Britain last year sales topped just 3,500.
So what makes the German carmaker think it can sell more than 9,000 a year of its replacement, the Fox, which goes on sale on April 28.
Price will play a big part.
The Fox is highly competitive against main rivals such as the Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1, Ford Ka and Vauxhall Agila.
With a starting price of just £6,590 for the 1.2-litre Fox, and insurance in the lowest group possible, it's sure to attract those looking for a bargain basement new car.
Volkswagen is also banking on the VW badge to lure people its way. The company's record on build quality is still high.
VW is also offering a new finance package with low deposit and interest rate plus free servicing for three years or 30,000 miles.
But what of the car itself?
At the moment, the Fox is offered with just two petrol engine choices, the 1.2-litre 55 bhp and the 1.4-litre 75 bhp. Both are already used in the Polo range.
Two trim levels are available: standard and Urban.
Volkswagen in the UK says its marketing boffins are predicting that 60 per cent of buyers will go for the 1.2, but for the additional money I'd rather go for the 1.4, with its superior performance.
The Fox is an attractive little car which has a surprising amount of interior space. Head and legroom front and back is excellent, even for six-footers.
The rear bench seat (an option on the entry level model), which is designed for two, slides backwards and forwards to give more leg or luggage space depending on your needs.
The boot itself isn't huge, but no smaller than most of its rivals.
Fox is a three-door only, but I found no trouble getting my lanky frame into the back seats and found it very comfortable.
It has a typically functional VW interior with no gimmicky features. Panels and seating are of good durable quality and there a few cubbyholes and a storage tray under the driver's seat.
I couldn't rave about the speedometer and fuel gauge dials which are set deep in the fascia and hard to read. Overall the cabin has a light airy feel and when on the move I really felt I was in a much larger motor.
The steering wheel is reach and height adjustable and the driver's seat also adjusts for height which allows you to achieve a good driving position.
On the road the Fox handles well, despite its light steering. It holds the road well on sharp bends and soaks up the bumps petty well.
I was disappointed with the amount of road noise with was very intrusive when I drove the 1.2 Urban Fox, shod with Dunlop tyres. But the 1.4, with Continental rubber, was much quieter.
Performance from the 1.2 isn't scintillating but once wound up it will cruise merrily along giving a claimed 46 mph on a combined run. Top speed is 92 mph and 0-62 mph comes up in a leisurely 17.5 seconds.
The 1.4 version, which I preferred, can top 104 mph and takes 13 seconds for the sprint. It is claimed to return 41.5 mph on a mixed run. The five-speed manual gearbox is slick and easy to use.
Standard equipment on the basic Fox is reasonably good with anti-lock brakes, driver and front seat passenger airbags, immobiliser, radio/CD, power steering, steel wheels, and adjustable steering wheel.
The Urban Fox trim level adds front electric windows, remote central locking, sliding rear bench seat, easy entry sliding seats for access to the rear.
Disappointing that air conditioning is an optional extra at £945. Many of the Fox's competitors offer this as standard.
Prices for the new Fox, which should have a diesel version making its bow later this year, are £6,590 for the 1.2 Fox, £7,395 for the 1.2 Urban, £7,190 for the 1.4 Fox and £7,995 for the 1.4 Urban.
Overall the Fox is a smart looking little car, built to VW's high standards and at a competitive price.
Words by Stewart Smith.