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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Lupo is a smart city car with VW quality

Against Expensive and hopelessly impractical for more than two people

Verdict Fun yet classy, but you’ll pay for the pleasure

Go for… The 75bhp 1.4 petrol

Avoid… 1.7-litre diesel

Volkswagen Lupo Hatchback
  • 1. Doors can drop out of alignment - not what you expect of a VW
  • 2. The 1.0-litre version doesn't like cold weather
  • 3. Electrical problems can dog all Lupos
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Volkswagen Lupo Hatchback full review with expert trade views

City cars are usually aimed at the buyer who wants the cheapest car they can find and don’t really care what they get for their cash.

The Volkswagen Lupo is a bit different. It looks smart yet funky inside and out, and has build quality that can rival many of Volkswagen’s bigger family cars.

Although the cabin is well turned out and easy to use, it’s a bit tight on space, even for a city car. Front-seat passengers won’t suffer too much, but anyone confined to the back will struggle for head- and legroom, and the boot is tiny.

On the other hand, the Lupo is a decent drive, with reasonable handling and decent performance, although it isn’t as much fun as a Ford Ka, for example. It doesn’t ride that well, either, and feels choppy at pretty much any speed.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Overpriced new kept numbers low. Seat Arosa much better value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The Lupo comes with a wide range of engines. Petrols include a 50bhp 1.0-litre (slow, but fine in town), a 75bhp 1.4 (less laboured and still pretty frugal, making it the best choice), a 100bhp version of the same 1.4 (faster but thirstier) and a 125bhp 1.6 in the Lupo GTI (quick but expensive to buy and run).

There are two diesel units – a 1.4 with 75bhp and a 1.7 with just 60bhp. The 1.7 isn’t worth bothering with because it’s gutless, but the 1.4 is much more punchy and still frugal.

The 1.0-litre motor comes in basic E trim only. This gets you power steering and twin front airbags. The 75bhp 1.4 and the 1.7 diesel are offered in both E and S trim, which adds central locking, deadlocks and electric windows. Sport trim adds alloy wheels and heated mirrors and the GTI gets an alarm, immobiliser and remote central locking.

Trade view

John Owen

Great city/first car and will last for ages

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Compare it with other city cars of a similar age and you’ll see that the Lupo is one of the more expensive choices. That said, it’s streets ahead of the rest in terms of quality and will hold onto its value better than rivals.

Your fuel bills won’t be too outlandish because all versions boast very competitive economy. The 1.0-litre will return an average of 48.7mpg, and the 1.4 will give you either 44.8mpg or 41.5mpg depending on the output you choose. Both diesels give an identical 64.2mpg, and even the GTI returns 38.2mpg on average.

Insurance costs will be reasonably cheap on all but the group 11 GTI. The other petrol engines range from group 3 to 6, and the diesels are in group 3 or 4. Servicing costs shouldn’t amount to much more than the class average, either.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Overpriced new kept numbers low. Seat Arosa much better value

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Volkswagen sells many cars on its perceived reputation for cast-iron reliability. That doesn’t seem to be the case these days, however, because VW’s performances in our reliability surveys have been overtaken by the company’s cheaper brands, Seat and Skoda.

Nevertheless, with the Lupo’s top-drawer build quality, you’d expect it to be more dependable than other more cheaply built city cars. Sadly, that's not necessarily the case.

Worst of all, the doors can drop out of alignment. Fixing the problem is an extremely awkward job and can take more time than it should. This could land you with a sizeable bill for labour if the car’s warranty has expired.

On top of that, the 1.0-litre doesn’t like freezing weather and niggling electrical problems can affect every model.

Trade view

John Owen

Great city/first car and will last for ages

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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