BEHIND THE WHEEL/Volkswagen Lupo A Thrifty Spin in a 99 M P G Car NYTimes com — Volkswagen Lupo 3L TDI

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BEHIND THE WHEEL/Volkswagen Lupo; A Spin in a 99 M.P.G. Car

Published: 16, 2001

Correction Appended

IN lupo means wolf, but for of Europe it also denotes the car in Volkswagen’s litter. The Lupo 3 TDI is also VW’s most »Three liter» stands not for displacement or size, but for fuel three liters per 100 kilometers in measure, or 99 miles a gallon.

figure was the four-minute mile of efficiency. With the Lupo 3 Volkswagen beat Opel, Fiat and other automakers to the bragging rights for selling the and so far only, production vehicle to this miserly pinnacle.

year, a fleet of Lupo 3 drove around the world in 80 averaging better than 99 But their passage across the States was barely noted. however, with fuel moving higher (although gasoline remains laughably low to the Lupo might get more

Could a car like this with its sophisticated turbocharged diesel engine and astonishing numbers — be practical for the lifestyle? President Bush’s have declared 80 m.p.g. an goal, perhaps because the was set by the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles set up by the administration.

VW has no plans to sell the — which comes in guises in Europe, including a hot GTI in the United States. Volkswagen sell a 90-horsepower, four-cylinder of the TDI engine in North America in Jettas and New Beetles, and the manual-transmission gets 49 m.p.g. on the highway.

As so-called Tier 1 vehicles California’s complex clean-air TDI’s are limited to 3,000 of each model per model Similar restrictions apply in New part of a Northeast consortium of that follow the California VW sold its 2001 consignment of by June; the 2002’s are now arriving.

The in the Lupo 3 Liter, however, is twice as clean as the larger

The Lupo is slightly shorter the Suzuki Swift but feels inside. It is smaller than the VW sold outside North which is tinier still the Golf, the smallest VW sold in the States.

To get 99 m.p.g. VW made the light. In the 3 Liter, VW engineers aluminum and magnesium wherever including in the hood. They the power drawn by accessories. is no power steering. The windows be cranked, and the mirrors must be by hand. The Lupo does, offer air-conditioning, and unlike the units on small cars the old Chevy Metro, once the of Florida rental fleets, the system does not offer a choice between acceleration and

VW also honed the aerodynamics of the vehicle. But the Lupo hit the three-liter primarily by using a diesel and not a rugged, old-fashioned, sooty but a newer turbocharged direct-injection with a computer chip to its breathing.

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The Lupo 3 Liter is across Europe, where a of all new cars — and well half all luxury cars are diesels. The owner’s manual service addresses from to Minsk.

Hitting the three-liter while meeting emissions depends on using low-sulfur The test car came already with warnings not to add American which has a higher sulfur — up to 300 parts per million, with European standards range as low as 10 parts per million and therefore produces higher dioxide emissions. VW would to see all the sulfur removed from — Sweden sells as low as 10 parts per million — but it the TDI’s sold in the United to the fuel here.

Diesels, you may recall from science class, are the oldest of internal combustion engine and from simple fuel no spark needed. They are and have fewer parts do gasoline engines and therefore are durable.

The Lupo raises questions: Is diesel a potentially quick solution for reducing consumption? Is it at least a short-term before hydrogen or fuel or other technologies … and supporting infrastructure is put in place?

Passenger-car diesel has a mixed in the United States. Its image from association with tractor-trailers whose smokestacks clouds of soot and memories of the diesels General Motors in the late 1970’s. Even American-built diesel Rabbits of the 1980’s were only successful.

Diesels inspire of slow winter starts, performance and shuddering at idle. But the TDI is a animal. In the Golf or Jetta, it so smoothly — without any vibration — and accelerates so as to be almost indistinguishable from a motor.

The turbo direct-injection a 1.2-liter three-cylinder, makes 61 horses. It comes equipped a version of the Tiptronic transmission, by Porsche, which runs in an automatic or clutchless manual. But it less smoothly than the larger TDI available in the New Beetle, or Jetta. It does not offer the response one might like on the merge ramps onto of the New York area’s main

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