Which Way Up?

We celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Volkswagen Up! and its siblings and wonder if the city car has a future.

(c) autoexpress

The 2011 Volkswagen Up! is Wolfsburg’s third generation city car. Unlike other models in its range, the smallest car received a different name for each iteration. This is explained, at least in part, by an apparent hiatus in product planning along the way, with the second-generation Fox being a stop-gap(1) import from Brazil.

Volkswagen’s first city car was the 1998 Lupo. It was introduced because the company realised that the increasing size and weight of its Polo B-segment supermini left room in its range for a smaller model. The original 1975 Polo, essentially a rebadged Audi 50, was a petite thing, with a wheelbase of 2,335mm (92”), overall length of just 3,510mm (138¼”) and kerb weight of just 685kgs (1,510lbs). By the time that the Lupo was launched, the Polo Mk3 was 72mm (3”) longer in wheelbase, 205mm (8”) longer overall and an extraordinary 236kg (520lbs.) heavier than the Mk1.

Even the scaled-down Lupo, while roughly the same size as the original Polo, was only 31kg (68lbs.) lighter than the Polo Mk3. This is largely explained by increasing crash safety standards that required more robust construction and more safety equipment to be fitted as standard. The Lupo was one of a pair of models, the other being the SEAT Arosa that preceded it by a year. The Lupo and Arosa differed only in their nose treatments, tail-light graphics and minor trim items.

1998 VW Lupo (c) volkswagen-newsroom.com

The Lupo/Arosa was a well-regarded car that offered typical Volkswagen Group qualities in a smaller package. Sales started strongly, with 155,530(2) sold in 1999, its first full year on the market, but drifted down thereafter to 39,396 in 2004, its last full year. A total of 649,773 were sold overall. This sales performance should have been enough to justify the development of a successor but that was, apparently, not the case. Perhaps the difficulty of making decent profit margins on small cars was already becoming apparent?

Instead, Volkswagen looked to its Latin American operations for a ready-made replacement and found the 2003 Fox(3) a city car designed by Volkswagen do Brazil. It was launched in Europe in April 2005. The Fox was a competent car, but seemed rather mundane and had an unmistakable whiff of cost-cutting and emerging markets utility about it.

It was offered in three and five-door bodystyles and three engine sizes, but had limited standard equipment and a list of options, in order to keep the entry price down. It was generally regarded as a backward step after the Lupo. The Fox was offered in VW form only; no SEAT or Škoda versions were made available. A total of 304,357 were sold over seven years, considerably underperforming its predecessor.

2005 VW Fox (c) rac.co.uk

When it became apparent that the Fox was struggling, Volkswagen decided that it needed to adopt a clean-sheet approach to its next city car design. The company spent some time considering (and talking publicly about) the possibility of using a bespoke rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive architecture. For very small cars, this can be an attractive solution because it frees up the front end to incorporate the required level of crash protection more easily, and allows for a tighter turning circle, something very useful in city driving.

The compromise in luggage space is not of great importance, since city cars are rarely driven with a full complement of both passengers and luggage at the same time. Volkswagen went as far as to show a rear-engined concept at the 2007 Frankfurt and Tokyo motor shows. The concept bore a striking visual resemblance to the production Up! although it was a rather more curvaceous and fuller shape.

After lengthy deliberation, Volkswagen decided in 2008 that the costs of a wholly bespoke architecture could not be justified. Even if the new city car were offered under all three of the group’s mainstream brands, projected sales volumes and, more importantly, unit profitability would generate insufficient return on the required investment.

Instead, the new model would be a wholly conventional transverse-engined front-wheel-drive car. According to a report published in Car Magazine in September 2008, this would save Volkswagen €750 million in research and development, procurement and production costs compared with the rear-engined layout. The downside of the switch to FWD was that it would add a year to the car’s development timetable.

The Volkswagen Up! and its siblings, the SEAT Mii and Škoda Citigo were launched in late 2011, with European sales commencing in early 2012. Collectively they were called the NSF (New Small Family) PQ12 platform cars. They would be manufactured in Slovakia at Volkswagen’s Devinska Nova Ves plant outside Bratislava in three or five-door hatchback versions. The different marques would be differentiated by unique, brand-specific front-end treatments and different tail light graphics.

www.autopro.com.au
2017 Škoda Citigo (c) autopro.com.au

The Up! would be further distinguished by having an all-black-glass tailgate. The Mii and Citigo instead had the lower part of the tailgate in metal and painted in body colour. The three-door Up! kept the upswept rear side window line of the 2007 concept, but the other two had a straight lower DLO line similar to all five-door models. The latter had pop-out rather than wind-down rear door windows. The exterior design was attributed to Brazilian Marco Pavone, under the supervision of VW design head Klaus Bischoff and group chief designer Walter d’Silva.

2012 VW Up! (c) autozeitung.de

The engine was a transversely installed 1.0 litre in-line triple-cylinder unit producing either 60bhp (45kW) or 75bhp (56kW). Transmission was via five or six-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automated manual. Wheelbase and overall length(4) were 2,420mm (95½”) and 3,540mm (139½”) respectively. Kerb weight was 929kg (2,044lbs.).

An electric version of the Up! called the E-Up!(5) was launched in September 2013.  This had an 18.7kWh lithium-ion battery and claimed range of 160km (99 miles). This was succeeded in September 2019 by a new version with a larger 32.3kWh battery that improved the range to 260km (161 miles).

An Up! GTI was launched in 2018 with an uprated engine that produced 116bhp (87kW), good for a 0 to 60mph (97km/h) time of 8.8 seconds and a top speed of 119mph (192km/h).

2019 SEAT Mii Electric (c) seat.co.uk

Apart from various tweaks to trim and equipment and a minor facelift, the Up! and its siblings have been in production fundamentally unchanged for almost a decade. Total European sales for the Up! and its siblings since launch until the end of 2019 were 1,305,434. The Up! was the most popular, taking 65% of sales, followed by the Citigo at 23% and the Mii at 12%. It seems that most buyers are happy to pay the £500 (EUR600) premium typically charged for the VW badge.

That it is still popular and selling well is a tribute to the essential ‘rightness’ of the original design, but it also indicates a problem: the economics of designing and manufacturing city cars are becoming increasingly problematic because of ever-increasing safety standards and customers’ expectations regarding standard equipment. In simple terms, it is extraordinarily difficult to offer a city car with a price differential to a larger and more practical supermini sufficient to make it sell, and still generate an acceptable margin, when both models are equally well equipped. The relative failure of the Fox(6) would indicate that there is little appetite for a decontented basic city car, at least not from the Volkswagen stable.

Perhaps the economics of EV production might help make the city car more viable again? Volkswagen has said that the Up! replacement will be an EV only. Time will tell whether a new generation of EV city cars will prove viable. If not, it will be a great loss from a consumption of resources and environmental perspective.

(1) It would turn out to be quite a long gap: the Fox remained on sale in Europe for six years until it was replaced by the Up! This was caused by the latter’s prolonged development process, as described above.
(2) All sales data from www.carsalesbase.com.
(3) Confusingly, the 2003 Fox was sold in Mexico as the Lupo, allegedly so as not to risk causing offence to the then Mexican President, Vincente Fox.
(4) Figure for the Up! The Mii and Citigo were slightly longer because of their different front-end treatments.
(5) This model name caused much amusement in England as it sounds identical to the colloquial greeting of ‘ay up’ used in the East Midlands.
(6) Volkswagen also investigated the idea of building an ‘emerging markets’ car, to be sold under a new brand name, but could not make an economic case for it, so abandoned the idea.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

35 thoughts on “Which Way Up?”

  1. Albeit that some of the increasing weight of city cars is due to safety kit, the other factor is width — for which you quote no figures. This extra width is caused by rapidly increasing obesity. I know I’m not going to be popular pointing this out, but them’s the facts.
    Fiat hasn’t gone much wider, because so many of Italy’s ancient town centres have roads which cannot be easily widened.

    As for the economics, too few buyers are prepared to pay for the extra cost of lugging around the results of too many sugary drinks. So electric is the only way out, as long as governments go on subsidising them.

    1. Good morning Vic. Happy to oblige on comparative dimensions. First, width:

      Lupo: 1,640 mm (64.6 in)
      Fox: 1,640 mm (64.6 in)
      Up!: 1,641 mm (64.6 in)

      Length:

      Lupo: 3,524 mm (138.7 in)
      Fox: 3,805 mm (149.8 in)
      Up! 3,540 mm (139.4 in)

      I think we can forgive VW for 1mm growth in width and (net)16mm in length over three generations.

      Your general point remains valid, however. I think the Up! looks a lot smaller in relative terms than the Lupo did in its day.

    2. Not really sure where I’ve heard or read it, but I think Gordon Murray said cars need to be wider now because of safety regulations. He didn’t mention obesity, but I agree with you that doesn’t help either.

  2. Vincente Fox was the President of Mexico, who always believed he was of Irish descent.

    1. Good morning Dermot, and thanks for the correction. Fox was of Irish descent? My goodness, we do get everywhere!

    2. Can’t seem to reply to your post, but he wasn’t. His anscestors had changed their name from Fuchs to Fox. Though Obregón was Mexican president in the 1920’s and his name is a Mexicanization of O´Brien. Nothing to do with VW Up!. Though I now start wondering which other cars have punctuation symbols in their name? The only one I can think of is the Kia Cee’d, but it now called the Ceed

    3. Hi Dermot. One of the quirks of WordPress is that you cannot reply to a reply, you have instead to reply to the original comment, as you have done in this case. (It makes sense insofar as repeated indents would limit space for the replies.)

      Dermot and Charles, regarding car names containing punctuation marks, there are lots if you include hyphens and slashes, for example the Ford C-Max and Fiat x1/9

  3. I feel bad for the modern city car because with all the current and future private vehicle restrictions in city centres (and beyond…), it suddenly makes little sense. Another problem is that technology is more expensive than materials. It seems to me there isn’t much difference in cost between a small car and a big car if they both need to feature direct injection, turbocharging, balance-shafts, particle filters, 48v mild-hybrid system, and ADAS. Their only difference being that one is a three-cylinder and the other is a four. Electrification wouldn’t help much either I think.

    There is a market for small, simple cars that doesn’t get mentioned enough and it’s that of the small towns and rural areas. Public transport in those places is usually not as abundant and convenient as in large cities or the towns that are near them. I’ve seen, at least here in Spain, how people in smaller towns need cars to access the shops and services not available in their towns, such as large supermarkets, and most importantly, to visit their social network as they generally relate to people in towns nearby, not just in their own. I’ve noticed that in many cases they make do with a small, simple car since they’re not driving that much anyway. They can drive older models too because for now at least, the environmental restrictions in large cities don’t apply to small towns yet.

    1. A car for a rural area doesn’t need to be small really. Small to me always meant difficult access to service items. Simple just doesn’t exist unless you choose something very old.

    2. Mervyn: It doesn’t needs to be small to be viable, but that helps a lot with driving down servicing costs, which is also a key for less wealthy Mediterranean countryside villages. My general perception is that stepping one category up in size usually means a 30-40% increase in annual running cost (insurance, tax, fuel, parts, labour, everything included). There are places where a Golf would be unaffordable luxury compared to an Up!.

  4. I really like the Up as a piece of design. It still looks fresh to my eyes to the extent that I nearly dropped my phone when I read that it was 10 years old. Strangely (given how similar they are to each other), the Up is also the clearly best looking of the three sister cars and I would suggest that people pay the premium for the VW for that reason as well as the cache of the brand.

    For me, the Up and Panda (which is now similarly aged) stand-out as the nicest of the city-car designs, coming from rather different design directions. We’ll miss them when they’ve gone (although, I suspect we might yet get another Panda).

    1. Fully agree, even though I don’t see both Up! and Panda as city cars, but as small cars. Over here I suspect many people chose small cars for budgetary reasons. When I look at the data available the average vehicle is occupied by 1.3 persons, which might have something to do with it as well.

      With more creature comforts demanded, more mandatory safety equipment, taxes and inflation the prices of the small cars are getting out of hand. A base level Up! is now € 16,890.

  5. Thank you for the article, Daniel – it is amazing that the up! has been on sale for so long – I don’t think it has aged. I recall mine with great fondness – I had to sell it, as we needed to have fewer cars in the household.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for the Fox, and it had a raised driving / seating position, which would suit many people. I think it was aimed at a slightly different market from the up! – it was meant to be a first, affordable car for young people, whereas the up! has a broader target market.

    We (Europe) only got the Fox as a 3-door and also didn’t receive the face-lifted version – I think it would have stepped on the Polo’s toes too much.

    I think Freerk and others are right – although the up! is marketed as a ‘city car’, many people just see it as an affordable car. I would also politely question Daniel’s comment about boot space mattering less – I think it can only be shrunk so far and I believe that this factor may have harmed the Lupo’s sales, along with its higher price. Further, some models of the up! were unable to tow and this caused some consternation, I recall, as some people occasionally wanted to attach trailers to increase boot capacity.

    I note that the next small-sized (Polo-sized?) electric car to be launched by the Volkswagen Group will be developed by SEAT. I believe that they’re hoping for some assistance from the EU with costs.

    https://www.am-online.com/news/manufacturer/2021/03/23/seat-plans-affordable-urban-ev-and-all-electric-cupra-tavascan-suv

    It’s possible that as the population ages and people travel less, smaller cars may become more in demand and I’m looking forward to seeing the next Panda / Centoventi (my small obsession, I know).

    Finally, here’s a short film where the up!’s designers talk about their creation.

    1. Thanks for sharing the video, Charles. 👍

      The boot (and passenger) space conundrum in small cars is an interesting one. When we came to replace our faithful Škoda Fabia in 2014, we started looking at larger C-segment cars on the basis that we felt we needed more passenger and boot space to accommodate visitors who come to stay with us. The more we thought about it, the more we realised that buying a car suitable for the 5% of the time we would need the extra space would be irrational. We should instead buy the car that works for 95% of the time and rent a larger car when necessary. Hence, we went for the Mini, and have rented a larger car on the few occasions over the past seven years when we needed one.

      This is, of course, a personal choice, but how many large cars spend most of their lives carrying only the driver (and their own greater bulk and weight) around? Food for thought, perhaps.

  6. Only yesterday did I see a nine year old Up! drive by which staggered me. My humble opinion thinks the car has aged well, apart from travel staining, most if not all Up’s ! I’ve seen appear to be well looked after, cherished even. The Fox always seems downtrodden, lacklustre and the pale colourings usually enhances this, to me.
    The Lupo on the other hand was a quirky little darling. A recently retired work colleague had a yellow Lupo until recently. The car needed some minor MOT work but he just couldn’t be bothered. He gave the car to a local carer who needed a vehicle quickly. Two new tyres, some brakes and a couple of hundred quid later, “Miss Daisy” is still doing the rounds some eighteen years since first purchasing. Not bad for a city car that few cared for. Will the Up! be kicking about after a similar period? Probably, yes. Shame the idea of a city car probably won’t

  7. I think there’s definitely a need for cheap, basic, economical city cars. If there’s ever been a type of “throwaway” cars, these are it. Buy new, use it for five to ten years, sell it, buy something similary new, rinse, repeat. Many people don’t care about cars as car culture, they just want cheap and above else, dependable transportation. It doesn’t have to be fun, but it have to work, always.

    The Up! Is like a more upscale Citroën C1, I’ve always seen them as Volkswagens iPhone to PSA:s Android. The Volkswagen even have a design language I would say was inspired by Apple, it’s exactly the kind of car Steve Jobs would’ve designed, had he been into cars.

    My brother lives in the city and commutes out of the city with a Citroën C1 every day, it’s a perfect commuter car. They use it for shopping and the occassional sunday excursions, but for longer vacations it is inadequate. My neigbhors in the countryside has a C1, they only need it for going the five kilometers into town for shopping. They were so happy with it they upgraded to a newer one after almost ten years just because they got a good deal on it. They are in their seventies and the car is all they need, they don’t need more car than that. And they use it like it was a throwaway.

    My point being, I think there will always be a need for that type of car, whoever makes the best compromise.

    1. I like this comment a lot! We had a Peugeot 107 (now with our son, 12 years on and mechanically lovely) and now have an e-Up!. I feel the 107 is a bit like a Renault 4 – here’s the minimum but it is completely honest about it. It feels unburstable and so willing to get on with the job. One of my favourite things about it when I drive it now occasionally is that although it looks tatty with pain peeling off the bumpers, threadbare carpet – there is not a rattle or squeak anywhere. The rigidity of the basic body is ingot-like.

      The e-Up! is also brilliant. It’s not so much an iPhone because it does something lovely and quite unique – it has completely analogue user interfaces coupled to a digital powertrain. You turn a key in an ignition barrel; you adjust regeneration level with an adapted automatic gearlever; the instruments are all analogue except for the trip computer, which is identical to the one in my Golf GTi Mark 2 (sold on in the mid 1990’s) – just brilliant. Space utilisation is as good as the Peugeot; both are narrow and I think the e-Up! will last better cosmetically. In crowded streets, narrowness is speed and the initial acceleration of the e-Up! is a hoot.

      The analogue bits that are less successful are the heating and A/C. The heating does not use a heat-pump and so can reduce mile per Kw/h from 6 on a mild day with no heating or A/C to 3.5 if used continuously. In terms of range, that’s the difference between 80+ miles and 50-something. At least it is easy to access the additional range if you don’t mind being a bit cold or hot! We bought ours second-hand and I am very tempted at times to trade to the new, short-lived version that has nearly double the battery capacity. The idea of nearly doubling the range is tempting, though the price of a trade-up is hard to justify at about £9,000. You can get another Up! – maybe even an early GTi – for that – which is a very tempting idea – with enough traditional VW bit to remind me of that Mk 2 Golf…!

  8. I find this all very strange. I have seen examples of the VW Up, but passing a Fox this afternoon I started to wonder when ? The rental companies bought the Skoda version, but there are no rental cars around Kerry these days because of covid. I tried to look up sales figures, but only found Jan/Feb 2021 (none sold) and 2020 (2 sold) in the Republic. The Up is invisible around here – much like the Citroen C1/107/Aygo.

    1. Hello Mervyn, it is odd. I looked back to 2019 and 2018 – the last ‘normal’ years and the up! and Citigo sold about 250 units each, which ranks them below 100 in the Republic’s sales charts.

      From the figures, it looks like C-segment cars are preferred. I wonder if there are more young families in the Republic – they would value a slightly larger car.

    1. Eh? You’re being even more enigmatic than usual, Richard

  9. We should not fail to appreciate some of the A-segment cars purely
    because the segment itself failed lately.

    The Up!MiiGo triplets are an outstanding design in my eyes, for many reasons. One of the trickiest aspect about this design, though, is that it manages
    to disguise its worryingly bulky build, whilst the dimensional “template”
    VAG used for the car was clearly the Hyundai Getz. If you made
    a clay mold around the Getz, and then use it around an Up!MiiGo,
    it would fit almost perfectly (apart from the Getz having a slightly
    separated angle between windshield and bonnet, avoiding an explicitely monovolume appearance).

    How they managed to disguise such a bulky car, and managed for it to look cute, is hard to explain, and deserves a profound analysis.

    At the same time, its ‘skin architecture’ is vastly reminiscent of the original Twingo, which probably works on a subconscious level, “selling” the design
    as a small one (the useful size, or the impression thereof, being the last argument in favour of the severely overpriced “A-segm.” offerings).

    To me, its biggest flaw is the slightly van-like ‘subjective ergonomics’.
    Its driving position (as a perceived one, not objectively ergonomically speaking), sits halfway between a proper, liberatingly low beltline monovolume position (Twingo), and a proper, orthodox VAG
    car. It thus seems to be compromised between those two extremes,
    making it feel incompetent whichever way one tries to perceive it.

    Still, they are very fun to drive, and the triple sound can be addictive.
    (The 90 TSi was probably the best from the range, although
    haven’t tried one myself).

    1. Good morning Alex. Wow, that photo tells a story about inflation in the size of cars over the 36 years between the debut of the Mk1 Golf and the Up! The latter is nominally two segments lower.

      I would rather like a red Up! GTI in my fantasy garage, as the Mk1 Golf GTI (sadly, not mine but belonging to a friend of mine) was an absolute hoot to drive and I hope the Up! would feel similarly ‘chuckable’.

    2. ” and the triple sound can be addictive.” Quote
      I remember a cousin coming to visit, out of the blue (as always, and always driving something different) in a rental three-pot Nissan (Pixo?) with his usual “Merv, you’ve gotta drive this”… and ” flat out it sounds like a V12 Ferrari at 1500 revs”!

    3. I try to get an Up! as a courtesy car whenever I have my Audi serviced and once I even was lucky to get a GTI.
      I really like the idea behind the Up! but not the way it drives and feels because it is not even half as much fun as it rightfully should be given its small size. Throttle response is flat, the engine like most of today’s turbo charged stuff is unwilling to rev but the really bad thing is the electrically power assisted steering that is excessively light and completely devoid of any feeling or feedback and makes driving the car feel like a video game. In addition there’s a permanent subconscious impression that the car might topple over at any corner, mostly caused by the high seating position and the lack of directional stability at anything over 100 kph on bumpy roads. The synthetic lifeless steering is a common feature of all current VAG products and it’s definitely no fun.
      Instead of an UP! GTI I’d take a Golf or 205 GTI any time (or a proper Alfasud Ti).

  10. Daniel,

    while the Up! GTi is commendable and really fun to drive, several well-knowledgeable VW enthusiasts do claim that the TSi90 is actually a better buy.
    Especially if the difference in price is offset by equipping it with decent
    light-weight wheels (eg. ATS DTC), better tyres and a freer exhaust/backbox (and even semi-bucket seats, which this notional “budget” actually allows).

    Even without an ECU upgrade, the TSi90 is only negligibly slower (in real-life)
    than the GTI. Plus, the GTI does not have proper sport seats, only a fancy fabric (and if one went for the GTI, its overly low-profile tyres/wheels would anyway need to be swapped for some smaller wheels and meatier, more real-life daily usage enjoyable tyres just as well).

    All summed up, the GTI isn’t exactly what it says on the tin, hence the slightly-modded TSi being the Up! of choice for enthusiastic drivers, provided you
    can find one that is for sale. But even a standard 75hp Up! is not dull
    to drive, with some very basic modifications.

    1. Hi Alex, thanks for the information. I hadn’t paid much attention to the Up! GTI, apart from admiring its sporty looks. It sounds like it might be aimed at the gullible, like me! In any event, it’s academic as I can barely justify the two cars we already own!

    2. Honest John’s YouTube review of the up! GTI thought that the 90PS version was better value.

      Even my (60PS, I think) version was great fun to drive and had fantastic visibility, too.

      The picture of the up! next to the mk1 Golf is very surprising.

  11. The Up! is a really well-designed VW product. I especially like the 3-door version – not that I would buy one, my love for VW doesn’t go that far anymore.

    If I remember correctly, the Up! is more or less a reuse of a design by Giugiaro for Daihatsu. (Wasn’t there once a revealing article here on DTW?).

    The picture with the Golf 1 is shocking. The Golf was a family car, the Up! is a small car in the eyes of today’s buyers – if not a subcompact.

    On the subject of “city cars”: City cars have not only become fat but also are dead. As the previous speaker has already written, even the sub-A class has to be equipped with the same technology as all other classes above it, and it is difficult to recoup this through the sales price.
    The other much more decisive point is that a certain circle of political crybabies does not want any more cars “in the city”.
    Our “let´s-call-it-city” has a schedule called “LG2030” (and similar schedules can be found in almost all cities in Germoney and probably everywhere in the EU.) “LG2030” means to get the whole city car-free by 2030. Only bicycles. Even with batteries, because everything with batteries ist totally eco, as we learned. (And maybe battery cars, who knows – but only until the greenies find out that battery cars are also “cars”.)
    In other words, the concept of the city car is “dead as disco”. In 10 years there won’t be any more buyers for it, not allowed to. The automotive industry (whatever is left over) will be glad that the small vehicle segments are (have to be) dying out, since a larger profit margin can be made with larger vehicles.

    So let’s be happy about every Up! and its colleague while we still can.

    And let’s always remember what today’s traffic landscape would look like if more people had behaved like Daniel, and instead of buying the 5% car, opted for the 95% car.

  12. The Fox’s woefully poor showing as the centre panel of VAG’s city-car triptych is at least in part down to the unexpected strength of the Brazilian Real against the Euro. The first-generation MINI’s Curitiba-built Tritec engine was another casualty.

    Given the disparity between Mercosur and European emissions and safety standards, reconfiguring the Fox for Europe would not have been a task to be taken lightly, and even when ‘naturalised’ its CO2 and EuroNCAP ratings were mediocre at best. Although Latin America got a five door, Europe-bound Foxes were all three doors. It’s possible that for much of its seven year European tour, the Fox’s availability was nominal – a loss-maker blighted by unfavourable exchange rates and high manufacturing costs.

    The term “showroom bait” once again comes to mind. Walk in tempted by a budget Brazilian bucket with a VW badge, leave having ordered a Polo for a few Euros more a month.

    1. Initially there were no plans for a successor to the Lupo. Then VW boss Bernd Pischetsrieder even told the press that he thought that the entry level VW was a used Polo. German press, always eager to blame anything at their domestic car makers started what we could nowadays call a shitstorm against Pischetsrieder. In the end VW succumbed to the associated press attacks and imported the Fox and in the end developed the you-peeh-exclamation-mark family of cars.

  13. Late to comment, but the Up was only on sale in Australia for 3 years and sales were 2300. Lack of an auto trans was noted as a big barrier to sales, but it was also more expensive than the competition (Mits Mirage, Suzuki Alto), but even the Audi A1 outsold it.

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