New Cross Up variant caters to unique Brazilian market demand for pseudo off-roaders - cars that look the SUV part but lack 4WD, any real off-road ability and, in this case, even an SUV-like ride height boost

New Cross Up variant caters to unique Brazilian market demand for 'pseudo off-roaders' - cars that look the SUV part but lack 4WD, any real off-road ability and, in this case, even an SUV-like ride height boost

Media and car enthusiasts visiting the São Paulo Auto Show (media days were Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 October) will see evidence of Volkswagen’s new strategy of playing the market more nimbly here in Brazil.

At pre-show preview for local motoring media, the automaker presented six exhibit debuts:

  • Jetta: mild front and rear restyle. Highline version powered by the two-litre/122 cu in 208 bhp TSI engine and 'robotised', double-clutch DSG automated gearbox
  • Fox Pepper: concept car featuring the new EA211, 1.6-litre/97cu engine delivering up to 118bhp [depending on ethanol/petrol mix] with manual six-speed gearbox 
  • SpaceFox: design upgrade, new technology and safety features like static turning lamps, front and rear parking assistants, stability control (ESC) and integrated GPS navigator
  • Space Cross: Catering to Brazilian buyers who like an SUV look without the weight/fuel consumption penalties of all wheel drive. Higher ride height, triple-function ancillary lamps and robust bumpers enhance the 'pseudo-off-road character'. 
  • Saveiro Surf: a pickup with youthful buyer appeal, a standard cab and double-reflector, black masked lamps.
  • Amarok Dark Label: import from Argentina, has matte black trim and new 17-inch alloy wheels.

For the auto show’s two press days - 28 and 29 October - and the public days (30 October to 2 November, the automaker held back the Cross Up which has been planned since the rest of the Up line was launched here - with a number of detailed changes compared to European-built models sold elsewhere - late in February.

Up front, the Cross Up features chrome effect appliqués in the lower and central bumper and fog lamps are standard. There also are appliqués on the wheel arches and side trim plus the roof rack and rear bumper.

Ride height remains unchanged as does the powertrain.

Under its plan to spend BRL10bn/US$4bn by 2018, Volkswagen has announced the new Jetta will be built at its São Bernardo do Campo factory in the Greater São Paulo area from the second quarter of 2015.

Space once used for the now defunct Kombi utility has been reserved for the Jetta which will be built at the rate of about 18,000 a year with steadily increasing local content. High-end versions will, however, continue to be imported from the parent company's main Jetta plant in Mexico [taking advantage of Brazil's somewhat one-sided 'free trade agreement' with Mexico - ed.]

Another recent investment announced was enlarging VW's engine plant in São Carlos, inland São Paulo state, spending BRL200m/$80m to add 50,000 sq m/538,000 sq ft of roofed area.

Besides the plant boosting global output of the the 1.4-litre TSI, the flexible-fuel engines to power the locally made Jetta, Golf, A3 saloon and Q3 from late 2015/early 2016 will also come from there.