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VW Beetle: Test Drive Review

Date: 09 April 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £18,895
Key rival: Mini

VW has reincarnated the Beetle for the second time, following a 12-year production run of the previous 'new' Beetle.

Every inch as retro as its predecessor, the latest generation is longer and wider by 152mm and 84mm respectively. It's also more spacious inside and has a significantly larger boot at 310 litres, up from 209 litres.

The interior retains the hallmarks of solid VW build quality with much of the switchgear familiar from other models, while another retro touch is the flat, passenger-facing upper glovebox lid, which is extremely similar to that of the original. Liberal use of gloss-black plastic and colour-coded interior panels to match the bodywork boost its appeal.

Three petrol engines are available, and range from a 105hp 1.2 through a 160hp 1.4 to a 200hp 2.0. Diesels consist of a 105hp 1.6-litre TDI and a 140hp 2.0-litre TDI.

The smaller TDI unit is the cleanest and most economical of the lot, with 65.7mpg and 112g/km, but we tested the 1.2 TSI petrol, which offers 47.9mpg and 137g/km. Performance is lively for a small engine but the Beetle neither rides nor handles as well as other VWs. Nor is it particularly well suited to the firm's seven-speed DSG gearbox, which is jerky when mated to the petrol unit. While a manual may be a better bet, there is little the Beetle is capable of that a Golf cannot trump.

Entry-level models - simply known as 'Beetle' - come with a generous level of kit, including a DAB radio, Bluetooth and rear parking sensors. Although diesel prices have yet to be released for the UK, petrol P11D values seem quite reasonable, ranging from £16,490 to £21,220 for the 1.4 TSI Sport.

VW predicts an optimistic 30% fleet share for sales in the UK, which seems surprising for a three-door car that relies on styling as its main draw, but it just goes to show how much emotional appeal still counts for user choosers.

Volkswagen Beetle Design 1.2 TSI DSG
P11D price £18,895
Model price range£16,490-£21,220
Fuel consumption47.9mpg
CO2 (tax)137 (19%)
Service intervalVariable
Boot310/905 litres
Engine size/power1197cc/105hp
Top speed/0-60mph111/10.9
On saleApril 2012
VerdictRetro looks will
appeal to many
but it’s easily
bettered in other


Retro looks will appeal to many but it’s easily bettered in other areas