The Volkswagen Lupo was first introduced in 1998 and was in production until 2005 when it was discontinued without any plans of bringing it back. The VW Lupo fared pretty well at the beginning as it was the smallest and cheapest VW hatchback, but is Volkswagen Lupo a good car?
As far as subcompact city hatchbacks from that era are concerned, the Lupo is a good car, but from every other perspective, it isn’t. This is because this segment is packed with many cheaper and newer cars and because this segment is fairly unpopular in the modern days.
The VW Lupo comes with small-displacement engines which lack power but are considered adequate for a small city car. The design of the VW Lupo is not special in any way nor it ever has been. The interior of the Lupo is more or less the same which means that there is little to be excited about.
Reliability-wise, the Lupo is decent, but there are some issues worth talking about. Practicality and value are two sides of the same coin which means that the Lupo is cheap, but it doesn’t offer all that much space overall.
VW Lupo – The powertrain
The VW Lupo engine lineup consists of 4-cylinder engines with displacement ranging from 1.0L, 1.4L, and 1.6L for gasoline engines and 1.2L, 1.4L, and 1.7L for TDI diesel engines. The former offer between 50hp and 125hp while the latter offer between 60hp and 75hp. All of these engines have nothing to brag about except for the 1.6L GTI Lupo with 125hp.
The Lupo is exclusively an FWD car, but you do have the option to pick between a 5/6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. The manual box is more fitting and more reliable for the size of the Lupo and because the automatic gearbox tends to be a bit more expensive as well.
You can expect up to 60MPG combined for the most efficient engines and about 35-40MPG for the least efficient GTI model. Acceleration times are between 8 and 14 seconds which means that even the fastest GTI model is not all that GTI after all.
VW Lupo – Design and chassis
The Volkswagen Lupo follows a distinct and well-known VW design language which means that it resembles its larger Golf and Polo counterparts and that it looks subdued. The four circular lights on the front are a classic VW design touch that can be seen even on some newer VW models.
On the inside, the Lupo is also fairly subdued which means that it looks very similar to the VW Polo, but dated and of lesser quality. Given the fact that the Lupo has been discontinued for a better part of a decade and a half, everything you see inside is not going to make you feel special.
As far as chassis and suspension tuning is concerned, the Lupo is dynamic given its lightweight, but it does not really enjoy anything besides just cruising around. The GTI model is a bit more exciting and many people even call it a pocket rocket, but 125hp is a smaller number even in a car as small as the Lupo.
VW Lupo – Reliability and common issues
The Volkswagen Lupo is a decently reliable car, but it does suffer from some issues we are going to talk about now. The most common VW Lupo issues are associated with the electricals which means that both the interior and the exterior lightning are prone to failing. Power windows are also a grip, and so is the A/C.
The Lupo also suffers from engine cooling issues and engine-related issues such as spark plugs and exhaust sensors. Many owners have also complained about huge and inconsistent panel gaps that even questioned the car’s ability to close all four of its doors.
VW Lupo – Value and practicality
The Volkswagen Lupo can be had for a few hundred dollars for the cheapest models and the more expensive ones can be had for a few thousand dollars. This means that the Lupo is cheap no matter how you look at it, and the reason why is that it is old, unpopular, and relatively unusable to be a true daily driver.
As far as practicality is concerned, the Lupo is as bad as they come because it is tight in every aspect. The VW Up somewhat represent the spiritual successor to the Lupo, but the Up somehow manages to beat the Lupo in practicality as if they weren’t similar cars after all.
Should I buy the VW Lupo?
If you are after a subcompact, used, and cheap city car, the Lupo could be an option. However, you need to keep in mind that the Lupo is not going to ruffle any feathers, and the reason why it might be worth it is if you are able to get one for a discounted price.
Compared to modern-day compact and subcompact city cars, the Lupo is lacking in every possible aspect. There are no modern-day safety systems, no wireless capability, no CarPlay or Android Auto, no parking sensors, no cameras, no nothing. As such, if you want a barebone small box with a tiny engine strapped to it, the Lupo is a good buy.
Is the VW Lupo better than the VW Up?
The VW Up is the spiritual successor to the VW Lupo where VW tried to pitch the Up as a more hip and youthful option. They tried to spruce up the Up with branded Beats audio system, cool colors, and lots of accessible options and it even worked, for a while at least.
All of this led to VW eventually discontinuing the VW Up as well which means that there are no subcompact VW cars on sale right now. Between these two, the Up is better than the Lupo in every way, even value-wise.
Is the VW Lupo safe?
When you take a look at a car as small as the Lupo, you’d think that it simply can not be safe. However, the Lupo did manage to get a 4-star crash safety rating which is understandable for the car’s size and era. Cars such as these are never going to be as safe as larger cars are, no matter what they do to them.
All in all, you should not worry about safety in the Lupo as you are not likely going to drive it on the highway anyway.