Volkswagen has launched simultaneously in Argentina and Brazil the new station wagon version of its Fox compact car.

The new variant was developed and designed by Volkswagen do Brasil but is produced in the company's Argentinean General Pacheco plant, near Buenos Aires.

The new station wagon has different names according to country - Suran in Argentina and SpaceFox in Brazil.

Compared with the Fox hatchback, the station wagon is 380mm longer, but has the same wheelbase (2,460mm). The load compartment has capacity of 430 litres compared with 260 litres for the hatchback.

The high roof body has prompted Volkswagen to call their new model a "sportvan", fitting between a conventional station wagon and a minivan. It's roughly equivalent to the Golf Plus or Touran models made in Europe.

"Our research showed that the model will lure buyers from both the station wagon and minivan segments. The likely buyers are young and want style but also internal space", said Berthold Krueger, vice-president of sales and marketing of Volkswagen do Brasil.

Initially, the station wagon will be sold only in Latin America countries.

It does, however, have the same new "V shape" nose styling and interior design as the Fox hatchback made in Brazil for Europe which is different from the models sold in Latin America, and that would allow Volkswagen to ship the new car to European countries without major changes.

For Argentina the new model is equipped with a 1.6-litre eight-valve petrol-only engine developing 101hp.

Exclusive to Brazil, is the same engine with flexfuel system that can run on petrol, alcohol or any blend of the two. As a result, the power output varies between 101hp and 103hp.

By the end of the year the Suran/SpaceFox model will be supplemented by a pseudo-offroader version similar to the hatchback-based Crossfox already on sale.

Volkswagen invested $US100m to build the new model in Argentina - it's the first Fox made outside Brazil.

Rogério Louro