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VW Up!s ante in small car war

Rohin Nagrani  |  Frankfurt 

Finally, Volkswagen has unveiled its new small car concept, the spiritual successor to Beetle and the one on which Europe's largest car maker will mount its most serious onslaught on many markets, including India.
The new small car, which will be based on Up!, may come to India in early 2011 and be the fourth car to be assembled by Volkswagen India. A few days ago, the company launched its first locally-assembled car, Passat. The next in line are premium C-segment Jetta and a premium small car.
Up!, shown at a preview to the 62nd Frankfurt Motor Show, measures 3,450 mm in length, 45 mm less than Maruti Udyog's Alto, the country's largest selling small car.
Volkswagen engineers say they have managed to liberate 200 mm in length by placing the engine at the rear, and still provide as much or more space than other cars in its class.
Up!, whose production is scheduled to begin in late 2010, is aimed at small European cities, and, as a senior Volkswagen executive mentioned, emerging markets like India, China and South Africa. It may not be able to match Tata Motors' Rs 1 lakh car, but could challenge the likes of Maruti's Alto and Hyundai's Santro.
The new car, based on the 'new small family', or NSF, is Volkswagen's attempt at getting back to its roots of small inexpensive cars for not only the European markets but also the emerging ones.
In a speech, Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Volkswagen group, said the new small family would spawn several variations and be a highly fuel-efficient car, delivering up to 30 km per litre (kpl), which the company hopes to extend to 33 kpl and beyond.
The company hopes to launch it in two-cylinder petrol and three-cylinder diesel engines, with the displacement ranging from 500cc to 1000cc.
Its wheelbase is as long as the Polo, a more premium hatchback in the Volkswagen stable, making it ideal even for India's highway. The power output could vary from 70 bhp to 90 bhp. The petrol engine may be turbo-charged.

First Published: Wed, September 12 2007. 00:00 IST