ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: Volkswagen Beetle
As VW’s new Beetle goes on sale, DAVID HOOPER has a look at the new range and previews the 1.2-litre model which goes on sale later this year.
The Volkswagen Beetle is surely one of the most iconic cars ever made and now, a new generation of the Beetle is hitting our roads.
Production of the original Beetle finally came to an end in Mexico in July 2003, but meanwhile in Europe, its successor had been on sale since 1998. Incredibly, since the Beetle was created in 1938, over 22.5-million of them have been sold.
In the UK, 68,000 “New Beetles” have been sold, so this new model is sure to find a receptive audience – even if the little flower vase is no more.
This new model looks and feels quite different to its predecessor. Built on the Jetta platform at VW’s factory in Mexico, the windscreen has been moved further back and the sloping rear end of the car is also noticeably different and provides more boot space.
I like the look of the interior – classy, but retro, especially if you choose the mid-range Design model, which was my personal favourite, with its smart wheel styling and colour-matched dash panels. The entry model is simply called Beetle, while the Sport sits at the top of the trio.
There are plenty of options on offer to make the Beetle your very own, from panoramic glass sunroofs, sat nav systems and keyless entry to name just some things which are available for the first time on this car – not forgetting a Fender sound pack, which sounded superb on the models I tested.
There is a choice of petrol or diesel engines, although the 1.2-litre petrol won’t be available in the UK until much later this year. There is even a BlueMotion model for those who like to make their Beetles crawl as far as they can on every drop of fuel.
During the launch exercise, I tried two of the petrol versions, the 1.2-litre petrol with a DSG gearbox and the 1.4-litre petrol powered models. Both drove nicely and have the quality feel you expect to find in a VW. The instrumentation has been kept simple and easy to use, but has all the mod cons.
I drove the smaller-engined car first and was pleasantly surprised by how rapid it feels, despite only having a relatively modest 105bhp. The benchmark 0-62mph time takes 10.9 seconds, but with seamless acceleration due to almost unnoticeable gearchanges by the 7-speed DSG gearbox, it accelerates relentlessly but cruises quietly and smoothly.
The 1.4-litre engined car felt even quicker, providing a hot-hatch rivalling 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds and a top speed of 129mph.
I loved the Denim Blue paintwork of the Design model I drove, and thought the 17in Orbit wheels, with their white rims and chrome hub caps, looked brilliant.
The much-improved Beetle is on sale now, with prices starting from £16,490.
THE VITAL STATISTICS /FIRST DRIVE FACTS
MODEL: VW BEETLE
BODY STYLES: Three door hatchback
ENGINES: 1.2, 1.4 and 2.0 petrol and 1.6 and 2.0 diesel
TRIM GRADES: Beetle, Design, Sport
PRICES: From £16,490 to £21,220
IN THE SHOWROOM: Now
• All data correct at time of publishing.