you been foxed
while looking for a
compact city car thats
small on the outside
and roomy on the
inside? Look no more!
Not only will VWs latest
baby solve your
problem, but it will
save you money into
CALLED THE FOX, Volkswagen's smart and spacious new entry-level model goes on sale in the UK on 28 April. Competing in the city car class, it's a direct rival to models such as the Peugeot 107, Toyota Aygo, CitroŽn C1, Ford Ka and Vauxhall Agila. In the UK in 2005, this class accounted for 140,823 units. That's 5.46 per cent of total UK sales. And in Western Europe as a whole, sales of cars below the Golf class such as these increased between 2005 and 2006 by over 200,000, to around 5.4 million units equivalent to a third of the total market volume. Small cars are definitely very big business.
Having just driven both models, there is no reason to doubt Volks-wagen UK's prediction that they expect to sell around 9,000 Fox models in a full year. The top-selling version expected to take just over half of the UK Fox sales volume is sure to be the entry-level 55bhp 1.2-litre. It's the right product for so many people that we think VW might even sell more than expected.
Available only as a three-door hatchback, the Fox is at 3.83 metres longer than the Lupo it effectively replaces, but it's a tad shorter than a Polo. Within its height of 1.54 metres it can accommodate four quite large adults or two, with one cubic metre of luggage with the rear seats folded. Not only is the new Fox larger than the Lupo model
it replaces, but it is lower priced too. The starting price is £6,590 on-the-road for the Fox 1.2-litre a substantial £1,290 less than the cost of the entry-level 1.0-litre Lupo.
There is a choice of two petrol engines a three-cylinder 1.2-litre or a four-pot 1.4-litre, both with 5-speed manual gearboxes and two trim levels. The base-level Fox comes as standard with speed sensitive power-assisted steering, a CD player, ABS, twin airbags, Isofix child seat mountings for both rear seats and, in the case of the 1.2-litre engine, a lowest possible insurance rating of 1E.
The higher specification Urban Fox gains electric front windows, body-coloured bumpers and door mirrors, remote central locking, easy-entry sliding seats for straightforward access to rear seats, manual rear vent windows and a sliding rear bench seat with a 50:50 split folding rear seat backrest. Optional equipment available includes alloy wheels, Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning, ESP, fog lights, an electric tilt/slide sunroof and side airbags and even an iPod cradle.
The four-star NCAP-rated Fox has a durable galvanised steel body and benefits from extensive use of laser welding, which together ensure exceptional body rigidity and therefore safety, dynamic and refinement benefits.
The practical and highly-useful sliding 50:50 split rear bench seat, standard in the Urban Fox, provides two good-sized individual rear seats separated by a centre storage compartment with two cup-holders. It can be moved lengthways through almost 6 inches to liberate a class-leading 260 litres of extra luggage space. Double fold the rear seat forward and luggage space leaps to a substantial 1,016 litres with a virtually flat loadspace.
Being tall and employing some clever interior space solutions and the largest wheelbase in its class, the Fox is, in spite of its outer city car dimensions, very roomy inside. Getting in and out from either the front or the back is easy, thanks to wide doors that reach into the high roofline like those of a small MPV.
Front or rear, two tall people can sit next to each other without feeling cramped or banging elbows. In fact, four normal-sized adults can sit and travel comfortably. Head, shoulder, elbow, knee and foot room are all that good. Another benefit of the Fox's height is that everybody sits higher than in most small cars and consequently a better view is enjoyed.
On the move its rigid body structure endows the Fox with a feeling of quality, free from the noises and vibrations usually associated with small cars in this price category. Refinement on all roads is good, as is the ride and handling. We were a little brutal with our test cars but both models felt nicely manageable. Such would you expect from Volkswagen. Steering is well weighted and nicely in sync with the Fox's predictable handling. Motorway cruising was relaxing, with a smooth ride and no intrusive wind or road noise, and both the 1.2 and the 1.4 engines were happy 'running with the pack' on a busy stretch of the M3.
Externally the Fox is immediately recognisable by its interpretation of the new Volkswagen radiator grille, and the V-shape of the distinctly contoured bonnet that extends all the way to the A-pillars. Inside, the cabin design is visually 'clean', crisp and typically Volkswagen. That's good, by the way!
We rather liked the distinctive all-in-one instrumentation (see the pictures and you'll understand why) that groups all the important information directly in front of the driver's eyes. Upholstered in smart-looking striped cloth, the seats are supportive and feel as though they'll stay that way over time. There are a number of useful storage areas including a drawer under the driver's seat suitable for stowing valuables.
The driver's seat is adjustable for height and reach, while the reach and rake adjustable steering wheel ensures all drivers can quickly find their best driving position. Pedals are light and operate precisely and the four-spoke steering wheel is pleasant to hold. The ABS brakes
are progressive and provide all the stopping power you'll need in an emergency. Even the handbrake is nice to use, with a pleasing engineered action to it. The gearshift action is slick and accurate, making changing gear a simple procedure.
Which is good news because both engines like revving and being worked. Make good use of the gears and both powerplants deliver unexpectedly brisk performance. Although you wouldn't expect supercar acceleration, both are more than competent and make real-world everyday driveability something you can take for granted.
The entry-level engine is a lightweight, 1,198cc three-cylinder petrol unit with multi-point fuel injection that produces 55bhp and 80lb ft of torque for a top speed of 92mph. A combined fuel consumption of 46.3mpg makes this a usefully frugal car. Fitted with a balancer shaft to ensure it runs more smoothly than many a four-cylinder engine, the 1.2-litre aluminium engine is a free-revving unit that almost begs you to drive it hard. Officially it takes 17.5 seconds to get to 62mph from standstill but on the road it seems to whiz up to 50mph very quickly. We certainly didn't have any problems keeping up with the fast-moving urban traffic on the mixed Surrey roads of our test around Bagshot.
Seen previously in the new Polo but in the Fox with enhanced fuel consumption and torque characteristics the more powerful 16-valve 1.4-litre engine delivers 74bhp at 5,000rpm and 92lb ft of torque at 2,750rpm, providing nippy performance (0-62mph in 13 seconds and a top speed of 104mph) with low fuel consumption of 41.5mpg on the combined cycle.
For a comparatively small amount of money, you really do get a lot with the Fox. It's a pleasing, well-considered car and if that's not quite enough to tempt you, Volkswagen Finance is offering all retail customers who purchase a Fox with a Solutions finance package (£135 deposit followed by £135 per month) free servicing for three years' or 30,000 miles, whichever comes sooner available from launch until 30 September 2006. Our conclusion? A smart little car with a big heart. MotorBar
Volkswagen Fox 1.4 Urban | £7,995
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-62mph: 13 seconds
MPG: 41.5mpg | Power: 74bhp | Torque: 92lb ft