Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: Small Cars Are Big News

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Motoring: Small Cars Are Big News

Article excerpt

Byline: By Robin Roberts

BUYERS are looking for the most economical and lowest polluting models, particularly if you have to pay a congestion charge, but they are reluctant to give up creature comforts or have to worry about quality and depreciation.

It is against this backdrop that the Volkswagen Fox was introduced, essentially replacing the late Lupo with a car which in terms of size is longer than the old car, but shorter than a stablemate Polo.

It brings the latest highly-rated safety features to the sector and will accommodate four adults or two with a cubic metre of luggage space behind.

The Fox is in three-door only style available with a choice of 55PS 1.2 or 75PS 1.4 engines, five-speed manual transmission and two trim levels. Prices currently run from around pounds 6,600 to pounds 8,000.

I tested the perceived best selling 1.2 Urban, which has the lower insurance rating compared to the 1.4 version's group two listing, and that comes with power steering, central locking and immobiliser, electric front windows and CD player. It is a useful package for the commuter or when used as a second family car.

The three-cylinder engine is surprisingly smooth and naturally it spins away at the slightest opportunity, often sounding like a sewing machine, but it's not an unpleasant note, nor does it sound strained. Just busy.

The power delivery is modest, but useable, so the Fox Urban does what is says and easily keeps up with commuter traffic.

A light clutch and short, direct gear change make easy work of town driving and while the ratios are good for economy you have to carefully select what you are going to use to overtake and observation and planning are crucial as there is little in reserve when the ponies are summoned out of the stable.

The brakes are up to their task and the power steering means the Fox is very manoeuvrable in traffic or inching into a parking space.

You have a very low waistline and deep windows so as to clearly see the corners and you quickly learn that most kerbside gaps will take the car with minimum demands on the driver. …

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