VW Fox: Volkswagen's sly drive

VW's new Fox may be small, but it packs a deceptive punch for its price, says Ashley Hollebone
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Indy Lifestyle Online


Model: Volkswagen Fox
Price: from £6,590 to £7,995
Engines: 1.2 and 1.4 litre petrol
Performance: 0-60mph in 17.5 seconds (1.2) or 13 seonds (1.4); top speed 92mph (1.2), 104mph (1.4)
Economy: 46mpg (1.2); 42mpg (1.4)
Insurance group: 1 or 2
CO2: 146g/km (1.2); 161g/km (1.4)

The people's car is back. OK, we've got the overblown and costly Phaeton out there, and the vast Touareg SUV, but VW is edging back to its roots now with the new Brazilian-built Fox, which starts at a record low for VW of just £6,590.

This works out at £1,290 less than the Lupo, the model it replaces. At first glance, you could be forgiven if you thought it was a new Polo. It's much bigger and roomier than the Lupo, even for the tallest of drivers sitting in the rear: head and leg room have not been sacrificed.

You feel somehow lost in the Fox as it sits up tall and proud. It echoes the sit-up-and-beg style of the Ford Pop of the Fifties, but this is no utility special. True, it's primarily designed for Latin America and other emerging markets, but it functions equally well as a budget buy for the (supposedly) more style-conscious buyer in Western markets.

The Fox is aimed squarely at those seeking to purchase their first new car, and the distinctive Paul Smith-style stripes on the seats are designed to pull in younger drivers. It comes with a generous level of refinement for such a modest price.

Two engines are offered: a 1.2-litre three-cylinder and a 1.4-litre four-cylinder. Surprisingly, the 1.2 gets my vote because it feels more sprightly than the larger unit, but that is a purely subjective feeling. On paper, it is woefully slow (17 seconds plus for the zero to 60mph sprint) but around town its shortcomings are not so obvious. The smaller-engine model won't hit the ton but few of its peers could top 100mph either - it's probably not such a good idea to extend it that far anyway (the VW Polo fitted with the same engines are no faster).

There's no diesel option as yet, which may limit its appeal, but who needs one when the petrol engine is as economical (46mpg) as this one? With these ultra-small, light cars, there doesn't seem much point in going for a diesel, especially if it's at a premium, since you'd have to cover a tremendous mileage to get your money back from tiny differentials in prices and economy between petrol and diesel.

I love how easy the Fox is to get into and out of, thanks to its large doors. Even for people with back problems, this is a small car worth considering. Once inside, you are amazed at how much space there is in what would seem to be a basic car. It really does have that Tardis feel. The Fox comes with driver and passenger airbags as standard, CD player and a wheel in each corner.

So what of the competition? The key rivals here are the Peugeot 107, the Toyota Aygo, the Citroën C1 range (basically the same car built in the same factory), the funky Fiat Panda and the Kia Picanto. All very competent little machines, and proof that size isn't always the answer.

One thing the 107/ Aygo/C1 trio are outstanding on is emissions. They are much greener (at 109 of C02 per kilometre) than any of their peers and as good as the much-vaunted Honda Civic and Toyota Prius hybrids.

But in this company I'd say the Fox feels the best-built. The Fox drives smoothly on the road but at times you feel as though it wants to hop over bumps and around corners. The gear change is easy and the brakes are very sharp. A neat feature is the built-in moulded cup-holders on the door panels, which will take anything from a Lilt to a latte.

In the rear, the first thing you may notice is the lack of middle seating: this is a strict four-seater. Yet who'd want to travel five-up in a Fox? Instead, your rear-seat passengers get a tray and cup-holders. The boot size is OK for this class of car and with the rear seat folded flat it is perfectly competitive. Volkswagen has introduced an attractive finance solution for the Fox that will no doubt appeal to the younger sector. On the whole, the new Volkswagen Fox is a great, cheerful little car. There is plenty to be pleased about. And with such an attractive price, I am sure the Fox will hit the right button with enough people to become the people's car a VW always should be.

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