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ENGINE We’re in­debted to the ex­perts at the ex­cel­lent, in par­tic­u­lar Pete Rus­sell, Jon Nixon and Martin Wright, for their in­put here. All agree the Lupo GTI is fun­da­men­tally well­built and gen­er­ally re­li­able, but it’s not with­out is­sues. The main thing to check for is whether the engine is burn­ing oil. Higher mileage cars (usu­ally 110,000-plus) have seen pis­ton ring fail­ures lead­ing to scratched bores; oth­ers have blown valve-stem seals, so be­ware oil specks on the tail­gate and any blue smoke on the over­run.

The engine should warm up to 90deg C and stay there; if it doesn’t, it al­most cer­tainly needs a ther­mo­stat and/or tem­per­a­ture sender: a com­mon fault, though not an ex­pen­sive one to fix. Ditto any mis­fir­ing or fluffy idling, which usu­ally points to coil packs and HT leads need­ing re­place­ment.


Both five- and six-speeder are stronger than the no­to­ri­ously weak ’box in the Polo GTI, though some five-speed­ers do suf­fer shaft and syn­chro fail­ures, which will even­tu­ally lead to jump­ing out of gear, so if you’re looking at an early car pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the ’ box. If the shift it­self is dif­fi­cult, it’s prob­a­bly the tur­ret on top of the box that needs lu­bri­ca­tion. The gen­eral view is the sixspeed is the one to have.


Be­ing a light car, the Lupo is quite easy on its sus­pen­sion and brakes. Any knock­ing is al­most cer­tainly the anti-roll bar bushes. Af­ter­mar­ket coilovers are a com­mon mod and shouldn’t give any is­sues pro­vided the car hasn’t been dras­ti­cally low­ered. Just check they’re good qual­ity ones. For fu­ture value, though, orig­i­nal is best.


Orig­i­nal­ity is key here. Use a mag­net wrapped in thin cloth to check the car still has the alu­minium doors, front wings and bon­net. If it’s been crashed, these may have been re­placed with steel items (the orig­i­nal bon­net is no longer avail­able; the other alu­minium pan­els are ex­pen­sive).

Some cars rust on the roof, around the gut­ter rails. Also check the front wings for bub­bling at the bot­tom and edges. The whee­larch lin­ers should be re­moved reg­u­larly and the in­ner wing and sill cleaned out – it’s a wa­ter and dirt trap that leads to cor­ro­sion in the sills.

Check the third brake-light works and look for bub­bling on the spoiler around it (both com­mon is­sues). In the boot, lift the trim and ex­am­ine the bat­tery tray for cor­ro­sion. And while you’re round the back, check the con­di­tion of the ex­haust if orig­i­nal – a new back­box from VW is nearly £600.

At the front, get some­one to turn the head­lights on and check the bi-xenons come on to­gether and have match­ing in­ten­sity – they’re pricey to re­place. Also check the car still has the thin­ner (i.e lighter) Seku­rit-branded glass (apart from the heated rear screen, which is the same as on a nor­mal Lupo).

En­sure that the cen­tral lock­ing works on all the locks, and that the elec­tric win­dows both work.

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