Motor1.com Podcast #139: Volkswagen Fox died wronged?

In 1999, Luis Alberto Veiga drew a sketch on the napkin of a bar where he was. Now retired, Volkswagen’s design director put in that simple role the car that could replace the legendary Gol with qualities such as a high driving position, high roof, good interior space and the same platform as the global Polo, the PQ24. It was VW Fox, which for 18 years was produced in São José dos Pinhais (PR) and said goodbye to us this week.

It was only in 2003 that VW Fox was released in Brazil. There was a lot of talk about being the substitute for Goal, but that never happened – so much so that in 2008 it was presented in the famous Generation 5, basically the same as today in terms of platform. But that didn’t mean that VW Fox ended up disappearing, on the contrary, it was a great pair of the then market leader in stores.

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In 2003, it was presented with engines 1.0 with 72 hp and the 1.6 with 103 hp (this one in 2004), both with 5-speed manual transmission. In 2005, the famous CrossFox was also launched, the adventurous version with a spare tire, one of the main reasons for the family’s success. In 2003, even reaching dealers in October, it sold 6,000 units and was the 35th best-selling car in Brazil – in 2004, 54,383 units were already sold, ranking 7th! In 2005, it has already registered 94,962 units, or 5th in the ranking.

VW Fox 2003 to 2008
VW Fox 2008
VW Fox Xtreme
VW Fox 2009 to 2014
VW Fox Run

In 2006, SpaceFox was born, a mixture of station wagon and minivan that followed all the Fox changes over the years, but ended up leaving this world in 2019, when it was produced only in Argentina and making room for the Taos medium SUV. About Fox, it continued to gain space and conquered 107,600 units and maintained the 5th position.

In 2007, for the 2008 line, Fox got its first restyle. Lightweight, changed the front bumper by the part used in SpaceFox, with a different lower part. In 2007, it sold 126,291 units and was the 4th best seller in the country and, in 2008, 115,059 units, dropping to 5th. On the 2008 line, a new bi-parabola headlamp tried to change the look of the Fox even more, which got into a controversy about accidents with the back seat, which hurt the hand of those who used the bounce incorrectly.

This turned on a warning light on Volkswagen. In 2009, 129,179 units were sold, but this was already a reflection of a heavier visual change at Fox. It received the same visual identity as the brand’s global models, mainly on the front. At this time, Fox received the I-Motion transmission with the new 1.6 engine.

VW Fox 2003 to 2008
VW Fox 2009 to 2014
Interior Fox 2015

The interior has also evolved considerably, improving the simplicity of the early years. The instrument panel followed the new Volkswagens, with a central TFT screen accompanied by 2 large round dials. For the first time, a sunroof was offered as an option. In 2010, there were 143,768 licensed units, returning to 4th place. In 2011, 121,584 Fox were registered.

In 2012, Fox BlueMotion was released. With a 1.6 engine, it had several aerodynamic improvements and changes such as the gearbox with extended ratios for 10% better consumption, with the help of low-resistance tires and a recalibrated suspension. This year, it was the largest number of licensed units: 167,083, still in 4th position.

VW Fox MPI Engine
VW Fox BlueMotion

The following year, Fox shows its strength within the brand: it makes the debut of the new 1.0 MPI 3-cylinder engine, which later became one of the main sales points of the Up! subcompact. Even so, it has already seen a drop in its sales numbers, with 129,925 units and a drop to 5th position. Time for a new change? Yes.

The 2015 line, introduced in 2014, had a difficult role. Volkswagen put the Fox as a replacement for the Polo, improving it in several points such as finish, engine options and equipment. From Gol’s replacement, he became a “premium hatch” within the brand. The headlights were Golf MK7 style and the 1.6 16V engine went into the vault with the 6-speed manual gearbox and the optional I-Motion.

At the rear, the flashlights invaded the trunk lid, which received an electric opening operated by the brand’s logo. It had the same nighttime signature as the more expensive VW’s like the Tiguan, new side creases and wheels up to 16″. It had an optional sunroof and traction and stability controls, something still rare at the time. Golf steering wheel and multimedia center too. This year, 101,336 units were sold, already falling to 8th position.

In 2015, the Fox Pepper was introduced with a 1.6 engine with 120 hp and a sportier look. In the same year, Fox stopped using the 4-cylinder 1.0 and adopted the 3-cylinder once and for all, something that was already expected in the restyled, but ended up staying in the Bluemotion version for a while longer. In 2015, 79,590 units were licensed, but with the 6th position. In 2016, with the brand already too worried about the new Polo, the Fox was off. There were 43,727 licensed units.

VW Fox Pepper

September 2017, Volkswagen presents the new generation of Polo. There was already a lot of talk about the end of Fox, already feeling a drop in sales, in addition to changes in versions months before. Highline, especially, had a high value even compared to the novelty of the house. Sales? 42,716 units, being that in September the CrossFox was discontinued and the Fox was sold just as it was until its end: Connect and Extreme 1.6.

When it was presented as a project in Germany, Fox caught attention. It was exported to Europe with several improvements compared to the Brazilian and replaced the Lupo from 2005 to 2011 – including the one that brought the look used in the first restyle. Mexico and Argentina also received it, with the neighboring country responsible for producing some versions of SpaceFox.

VW Fox exported to Europe

Fox was also famous for the amount of special versions it had: Route, Run, Rock in Rio, Seleção… several in all stages of the hatch. Virtually every edition that Volkswagen featured in its lineup, the Fox was included.

CrossFox is gone with the arrival of the new Polo. At the same time, Fox is gaining more and more rumors about its demise. In 2018, 39,260 units were licensed and a presence in the TOP 20 – he was betting on cost/benefit with the 1.6 engine for the price of 1.0. In 2019, SpaceFox is gone and Fox…follows: 38,487 units sold and 19th position in sales.

In a tricky 2020, Fox shipped 20,382 units. He says goodbye to 2021 with 15,957 units registered until September in a scenario where VW prioritizes the production of the SUV T-Cross and sees an old project quit due to emissions requirements from 2022. Too bad. See below for VW Fox’s year-over-year and month-to-month sales figures for 2021. Go in peace, Fox!

VW Fox Sales 2003-2021

YearBoarded units
2003 (from October)6,000
200454,383
200594,962
2006107,600
2007126.291
2008115,059
2009129,179
2010143,768
2011121,584
2012167,083 (record)
2013129,925
2014101,336
201579,590
201643,727
201742,716
201839,260
201938,487
202020,382
202115,957 (until September)
Month (2021)Boarded units
January1,283
February1,309
March2691
April2,057
May2,404
June1,625
July1,321
August926
September2,341