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2001 Volkswagen Lupo 3L

Those who know me are aware I have a hatred for one vehicle stronger than any other: the Toyota Prius. As someone who travels a lot on business, the last thing I look forward to upon returning to the US is having to ride in one of these dreadful machines, be it a cab or Uber, back to my residence. Not only does the suspension crash about, providing a feeling similar to a 17th century horse drawn cart, but the CVT transmission is unnerving, especially when you have a driver who is on and off the throttle like grandpa. Now Toyota has unleashed a new for 2016 Prius. If you haven’t laid eyes on the latest eco warrior, careful. It may cause blindness. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Toyota has a lot of nerve selling something this aesthetically displeasing. Anyone who spends the almost $25,000 base entry fee to put one of these in their garage should have their head examined.

There, I’ve said my piece.

According to official government figures, the 2016 Prius can return just under 60 mpg in the city. However, over 15 years ago, Volkswagen brought to market the Volkswagen Lupo 3L, a car which can still beat any Prius handily in the fuel economy race. This little car was the first series production vehicle to travel 100 kilometers on three liters of fuel (hence the name). The Lupo 3L had a very impressive resume at the time of its launch, with a 1.2 liter turbocharged three cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed tiptronic transmission. In addition, the Lupo 3L included start/stop technology, low rolling resistance tires and styling tweaks that helped it achieve a low coefficient of drag of 0.29. On top of all this, through the use of aluminum and magnesium alloys for the doors, hood, rear hatch, seat frames, engine block, wheels and suspension, the Lupo 3L weighed in at just 1,830 lb. A new Prius weighs over 3,000 lb. Granted, it’s a larger car, but I question Toyota’s commitment to using innovative materials in order to improve economy. At least BMW is making good on this front with their i series of cars.

While we can’t legally import a Lupo to the US (yet), it’s fairly impressive that you can get all this fuel saving technology for practically peanuts right now. This Lupo 3L for sale near Hanover, Germany is a prime example.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Volkswagen Lupo 3L on

Year: 2001
Model: Lupo 3L
Engine: 1.2 liter turbocharged inline-3 diesel
Transmission: 5-speed tiptronic automatic
Mileage: 118,560 km (~ 73,669 mi)
Price: €3,200 (~ $3,648 USD)

Electric immobilizer,
Start/stop system,
New front disc brake pads,
New vehicle roadworthiness certification,
Four Winter Tyres,
Trade possible.
Sale preferably on Industry,
Private sale reserve,
Subject to prior sale,
*Tel. 0172-8270975

The words diesel and Volkswagen might seem scandalous at the moment, but I tend to doubt the current emissions scandal will do much to destroy the body of work that VW has invested in over the years with this technology. It’s rather sad that current US government regulations forbid this Lupo from coming to these shores until 2026. This is just another shining example of how backwards US legislation can be at times, because I’m sure there are those out there willing to go to the trouble to import what is still one of the most fuel efficient cars available. Perhaps someday the so called “leaders” will wake up in Washington, DC and let us enjoy our hobby. However, having lived there a number of years with a front row seat to the proceedings, I tend to doubt it. They are a pigheaded lot. Just keep in mind one thing while we sit here as enthusiasts, seething over what we can’t have. Freedom defined is, indeed, freedom denied.



  1. Stirling
    Stirling April 12, 2016

    Can’t bring it into the US, but you can bring it into Canada. Would be neat to have, probably, the only one here. Maybe they sold these in Mexico and one could actually drive it home.

  2. J
    J April 12, 2016

    It bums me out soooo much that a) we never got these (or other amazing little diesel cars–looking at you BMW F20/21 diesels) and b) we still can’t have them. Oh and c) why the F isn’t anyone making something like this today?!? We need a production version of the XL1!

  3. Molefunken
    Molefunken April 13, 2016

    I was secretly hoping the 3L meant displacement, not consumption.

  4. Tanktank
    Tanktank April 13, 2016

    What mpg does the Lupo diesel get?

  5. Carter
    Carter April 14, 2016

    @Tanktank, Top Gear had a test with one that managed 75 mpg or thereabouts.

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