I have reviewed so many cars over the past six months that I may have been guilty of getting used to the thrills and spills of speeding. If this is the case, my assignment this week brought me back down to earth – very slowly I might add – with a bump. The car in question is the Volkswagen Fox, the baby of the German automaker’s fleet.
The car has a time of 0 to 100 km / h from … wait … to … that … 17.5 seconds. Top speed is 91 mph and no, there is no turbo hooked up to the puny 1.2-liter engine. However, to criticize the Fox for being slow and unexciting is to completely lose the sense of the car. The giveaway is in the name of the car model I tested: the Volkswagen Urban Fox. In this day and age when gas prices are skyrocketing, roads get more congested, and the car is the villain of global warming, Fox might as well be where the smart money meets when it comes to getting around town.
I don’t like to use the word ‘cheap’, but there is no other way to describe the Fox, with prices starting at £ 6,430 to be precise (in the UK I should add). Putting four new wheels on the road, with a Volkswagen badge adorning your car for this money, is simply a remarkable feat. The cost savings don’t end there either, with Fox falling into insurance group one: the cheapest group. Fuel economy almost seems offset by combined urban and extra-urban figures of 46.3 mpg.
Wow, this is starting to make a lot of sense. The Fox is also quite tall, so despite the diminutive length, the driving position is not much different from that of a larger 4×4 vehicle. The advantages of making the car tall are not limited to the driving position, as the head and leg room is also enhanced by the extra inches at the top. There is a lot of glass around the car which makes for excellent visibility and parking a breeze.
Outside of his favorite habitat, things are going a bit wrong with the Fox, especially on the highway. Now before yelling “small is not for big roads!” If we are objective, there will be times when you will leave the big smoke and hit one of the multi-lane snakes that crisscross the country. Ignoring (no pun intended) the 0-60 mph time, the Fox is, and I hate using this word as much as “cheap,” slow. An overtaking maneuver requires the advance planning of a chess master and a billiard champion all rolled into one. Shifting from fifth to fourth made little difference to my forward movement and, worryingly, not one more shift to third.
The high sides also act as a very large pair of hands that grab every gust of wind or blows from a passing truck, making the Fox a bit nervous in the outside lane. Once off the highway, however, the Fox feels much safer navigating the twists and turns of the field, thanks to a longer wheelbase than most in its class and a wider track. In fact, instead of welding the gas pedal to the ground, a gradual movement combined with a flawless gearbox brought great rewards in the great outdoors.
Parked in front of his rivals, Fox sits comfortably in the ‘not ugly’ group, but also struggles to reach the ‘pretty’ range. As with Volkswagen’s other small hatchback, the Polo, the Fox has subtle styling compared to its rivals, in this case the Citroen C1, Toyota Aygo, and Peugeot 107. However, there is something more grown-up and civilized about it. Fox when seen alongside the almost immature styling of the other city cars.
An interesting fact for your next pub talk: Volkswagen is committed to reducing the environmental impact of car production and is keen to promote recycling and greener vehicles. In the case of Fox, it is built in Brazil where the Curana plant grows. Fibers from this pineapple family plant are mixed with a recyclable synthetic material that forms the material for the headliner and rear parcel shelf. No, the car is not edible.
The Fox has been built using the latest laser welding technology, which means it’s a very stiff car that helps it earn 4 stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and comes with ABS as standard. Optional extras include alloy wheels, air conditioning, and a CD player.
The Fox has a big fight on its hands, not necessarily from its competitors, but from the car it replaces: the much-loved and cute Lupo. Either way, the evidence is clear. The next time I get behind the wheel of a 2.0-liter turbo monster, I wish I was a very sensitive human being and drive a Volkswagen Fox.