Volkswagen Lupo

Thanks to great build quality, an upmarket image and mature road manners, VW's baby has won thousands of fans since its introduction in 1999. Indeed, the German firm is so proud of the car, it named it after its home town of Wolfsburg - Lupo is Latin for wolf.

Thanks to great build quality, an upmarket image and mature road manners, VW's baby has won thousands of fans since its introduction in 1999. Indeed, the German firm is so proud of the car, it named it after its home town of Wolfsburg - Lupo is Latin for wolf. A broad range adds to its appeal, with everything from a thrifty diesel model to a fire-breathing GTI on offer. The only downside is the price. Some may argue that the SEAT Arosa, which shares the Lupo's platform and engines, is a better buy as the VW seems expensive in comparison. Cer-tainly, Lupos aren't cheap. But while strong residual values might make second-hand examples expensive, the cost works in your favour when it comes to resale time - expect a Lupo to be worth twice as much as a virtually identical Arosa when it reaches seven years old. If you're planning on keeping it for a while, then the Lupo makes real financial sense, while early impressions suggest it's living up to VW's traditionally excellent reliability.Checklist * Lupos are largely reliable, apart from the odd electrical niggle. Remote locking can fail, as can power window switches. * Airbag sensors can easily pick up a fault code if knocked, causing the dash warning light to illuminate. If the bag isn't faulty, a dealer can reset this in minutes. * Some owners have reported catalytic convertor trouble on early cars, caused by damage to the low-slung exhaust. * Aluminium panels on GTIs are prone to denting - and replacements are pricey. Look out for parking knocks. * Interior trim wears quickly compared to larger VWs. Door nets, grabhandles and heater controls are especially vulnerable, and can rattle with age.Glass's View The Lupo is one of the most sought-after second-hand city cars, according to trade bible Glass's Guide - and as a result, bargains are few and far between. But if you're looking for a cheap-to-run, compact and quality motor with a strong image and a great sense of fun, the little VW takes some beating. The popularity of the badge means you'll easily be able to sell it on when the time comes.My Lupo... Stephen Larkin had never considered a city car until his job meant he had to move from Porthcawl, south Wales, to central London. The 34-year-old civil engineer has always been a VW fan, and previously owned a Golf TDI, but decided to swap it for a Lupo. Initially, he bought a 1.4 TDI Sport, but a problem with the turbocharger meant he rejected it - and he decided to replace it with a GTI. He covers around 9,000 miles a year in the Lupo, and finds it good enough for his needs. "It has great character," Stephen told us. "I love the looks and performance - my only gripe is that the fuel tank is too small." That said, he doesn't find the car's size a problem. "There's only ever two of us in it, so it's big enough," he explained. "I even had a tumble drier in the back with the seats down!" Stephen is waiting for VW to sort the Lupo's brakes, which have been squeaky since he bought the car a year ago. "They have to be cleaned every couple of months or it sounds like a ship coming in to port," he said. "VW says it's a known fault and that a fix is on the way, but I've yet to hear anything."

Verdict

For all-round performance, our favourite is the 1.4 TDI Sport, which offers lively performance and great economy. But its popularity means prices are high. A 1.4 SE petrol Lupo gives the best combination of performance, economy and kit at a sensible price. The GTI is expensive new, but better value used, and a fine alternative to a MINI Cooper.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power
Vauxhall Astra render
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra to offer plug-in hybrid power

The new Vauxhall Astra will get a plug-in hybrid powertrain and a more premium image - here’s how it could look
17 Jun 2021
Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services
Tesla Model 3 police car - front
News

Tesla Model 3 police car all set for evaluation by UK emergency services

Tesla hopes to offer UK police forces a new zero-emission emergency responder option with the Model 3 police car
17 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
Dacia unveils new badge design
Dacia badge
Dacia

Dacia unveils new badge design

The new Dacia branding will feature on the company’s cars from 2022, with the Bigster being the first candidate
17 Jun 2021
'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'
Opinion Genesis Hyundai Ioniq
Opinion

'I was cynical about Hyundai's aim to be the world's 2nd biggest carmaker, not now'

Steve Fowler is impressed by Hyundai's electric cars, its N division and now its luxury Genesis brand
16 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police
police speed gun
News

Motorists think they can get away with driving offences due to lack of road police

Lack of road traffic police officers in the UK is making it easy for drivers to break the law, according to a survey of 15,500 British motorists
16 Jun 2021