Volkswagen Fox Urban Fox 1.2

June 2006

picture of car from the front

Bold VW badge does not make up for plain looks

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 9Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 9Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 6Comfort

Security Rating 6Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


Likes

  • Interior space impressive for so small a car
  • Interior feels solid, not cheap
  • Keen 1.2-litre engine is fun to use
  • Excellent value for money

Gripes

  • Performance and economy not class best
  • Exterior lacks flair or excitement
  • No five-door option
  • Ride can become choppy at times

While recent new models have expanded the Volkswagen range of upmarket cars, the introduction of the Fox signals the least expensive car to come from the manufacturer. Cheaper than the Lupo it replaces, it competes in the smallest sector, aiming at city drivers and first time car buyers on a small budget.

Building on the success of the Lupo, Volkswagen designed the Fox to be more suited to the demands of modern motoring. Bigger than the outgoing car although still smaller than the Polo, it is substantially taller than the previous car in order to increase passenger space without compromising its exterior dimensions. From the outset it was designed to accommodate four large adults.

In keeping with its city car status, the Fox has a simple, if not stripped out feel. The three-door body shape is quite chunky, with a high window line giving it a solid feel. As is often the case on cars of this size, the standard steel wheels with hubcaps look a little small for the car, and don't quite fill the wheelarches leaving it with a slightly toy-like appearance.

Inside the story is much the same, with a small pod for the instruments mounted on a plain and straightforward dashboard. That said, the door mouldings look quite smart for a car of this price, and there is no bare metal on show. The seat trim may be a little bright for some tastes, but the overall feel is relatively mature - possibly too mature for the younger buyers that the car is likely to attract.

Mechanically the Fox follows the template for cars in this class, with a choice of two small transverse engines driving the front wheels. As well as simplifying the layout it also maximises interior space, as does the compact rear axle design. Although designed with urban driving in mind, both versions can cope with more demanding roads, and have enough power and refinement to make motorway journeys viable.

Our verdict on the Volkswagen Fox Urban Fox 1.2

Competition in this sector is tougher than ever, but the Fox has a broad range of abilities. Good value, a desirable badge and excellent space efficiency will make it a popular choice, although the comparative lack of flair and average economy puts in behind some rivals.

Costs
Costs rating 9

Running costs are one of the Fox's main strengths. With a low purchase price, average economy and a modest insurance groupings depending on engine size, the Fox should be a very cheap car to run.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

Given its compact dimensions the Fox offers remarkable interior space. Headroom is very good front and rear, while legroom, even in the rear seats is impressive. This helped by the sliding bench seat on Urban models which allows the split between boot space and rear leg room to be adjusted.

picture of car from the rear

Tall body shape is highlighted by shallow windows

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

With a simple cabin and a relatively modest specification, the interior of the Fox should present no problems for the driver. The ventilation controls are simple rotary items, although they are set quite low in the dashboard, while the fog and hazard warning light switches are mounted clearly on the top of the fascia. The instrument panel is also simple and clear, taking up little space.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 6

A good level of refinement and decent seats means the Fox offers impressive comfort, with low levels of wind and road noise. At higher speeds and on coarse surfaces road noise is more apparent, but it rarely becomes discordant. In terms of ride quality the Fox is not exceptional, for although it copes well with a variety of surfaces it can struggle with harsher bumps.

Car security
Security Rating 6

All Fox models are fitted with an engine immobiliser, while the higher spec Urban models also come with remote central locking. This is also available as an option on the entry model, as is an alarm system.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

Standard safety features on the Fox are quite generous, with twin front airbags as standard, and the option of side airbags. ABS is also standard, as are Isofix child seat mountings on the rear outer seats. Volkswagen also claims improved body stiffness thanks to the use of laser seam welding.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

For a simple city car, the Fox is quite fun to drive. The three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine is not powerful but it revs keenly, so it is not a hardship to keep the right pedal pressed to make decent progress. All the major controls are easy to use, and visibility is good. When pressing on the Fox does suffer from body roll in corners, but it hangs on well and will not surprise or catch out inexperienced drivers.

picture of car interior

Sturdy and simple interior is easy to use

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

Despite its size the Fox could perform the role of a family car. With a full complement of passengers and luggage even the 1.4-litre version may struggle, but it has enough space to manage a family of a reasonable size. The lack of five doors may be more of an issue.

First car appeal
First car Rating 9

The Fox has all the right attributes to make an excellent first car. Ease of driving, low running costs and a low purchase price are all desirable factors, although the interior and exterior design is not as exciting as some rivals.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 3

While the Fox is clearly a vehicle designed to be inexpensive, the quality of the materials and their construction is good. The plastics are clearly sturdy and well finished, if mostly hard to the touch. This feeling of quality is also reflected in the cars image, as the Fox feels like a good car even though it has a small price tag. It also benefits by association from the quality image of other cars in the Volkswagen range.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Although only available in three-door form, the Fox has very large doors for easy access to the front seats. For rear seat passengers access is helped by the sliding seat mechanism fitted to Urban models as standard. The high roofline also contributes to the ease of entry, while the boot has a wide hatch for simple access.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Both models receive a CD/tuner as standard, with six speakers. The unit is large and easy to use, while radio reception is good. CD playback is also good, with distortion only creeping in at higher volume levels.

picture of car seats

Sliding rear seat is standard on Urban Fox models

Colours and trim

Inside the Fox is a mix of light and dark colours. Much of the dashboard is finished in varying shades of grey, while in stark contrast the seat fabric is finished in multicolour stripes. The overall effect is a little dull, and a mix of colours all over the cabin would have been more pleasant. The trim itself is of good quality, although not entirely soft touch it feels robust.

Parking

With compact dimensions and good visibility, parking the Fox is easy. The vertical rear window makes judging the vehicles length simple, while the power steering is ideal for squeezing into small spaces.

Spare wheel

Full size spare wheel mounted beneath the boot floor

 

Range information

Two engine options: 1.2-litre petrol (54bhp) and 1.4-litre petrol (74bhp), both mated to a five-speed gearbox. Trim levels are Fox and Urban Fox, with Urban models gaining remote central locking, body coloured bumpers, front electric windows and easy entry front seats.

 

Alternative cars

Toyota Yaris Distinctive, well made and fun to drive

Vauxhall Agila Tall body gives space, but ageing design feels flimsy

Ford Ka Ageing baby is good value, fun handling too.

Kia Picanto Capable small car with good equipment levels



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June 2006