“The Volkswagen Beetle offers strong dynamics, build quality and value for money in a fashionable package.”
Stylish Volkswagen Beetle hatchback mixes modern mechanical parts with a look inspired by the big-selling sixties original. It only comes as a three-door and in standard, Design and top-spec Sport trims. There are 1.2 turbo and 1.4 turbo and supercharged petrol engines, plus a 2.0-litre diesel. The Beetle shares mechanical parts with the VW Golf hatchback, but replaces the previous car's cartoon-like shape with a more flamboyant, masculine design. It's bigger and better to drive than before, too.
The Beetle drives well, even with the entry-level 106bhp 1.2-litre petrol turbo and seven-speed DSG auto. The engine is efficient and responsive, while the DSG box shifts smoothly, but can be hesitant at low speeds. The suspension is comfortable and steering sharp, while larger 18-inch wheels on Sport models improve grip. For more power, there's a 162bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine in Design and Sport trims and a 197bhp 2.0-litre TSI in Sport trim. Both are smooth and refined. And the 138bhp 2.0 TDI diesel provides decent punch, too. The 1.4-litre comes only with a smooth six-speed manual box.
The seats are supportive, and you even get leather trim on Sport models. All versions of the Beetle are well built and have logical, high-quality switchgear. Design trim adds chrome detailing, while Sport has a gloss black finish on the dash, steering wheel and the tops of the doors. The Sport also gets dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. The steering wheel and pedals are all evenly weighted, while all-round vision is excellent. Options include a touchscreen sat-nav and an upgraded stereo by guitar maker Fender.
As it uses the same platform as the VW Golf, the Beetle should prove reliable. All the engines are proven elsewhere in VW's range, too. Essentially, this is a Golf with a new body, but it's built at VW's factory in Mexico, rather than in Europe. The Beetle has stability control, ABS and integrated head and side airbags as standard, and it comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.
only small children will fit in the rear seats, and the curved roof line cuts into headroom. Visibility is good, although the curved bodywork can make parking tricky. Simple, intuitive switchgear will be familiar to anybody who has driven a recent VW. The rear seats split 50:50, which raises boot space from 310 to 905 litres, but the load area isn’t flat. The cabin has centre console cup-holders, two gloveboxes (one large, the other more to show off the upwards-folding retro-lid), while the door bins aren’t as large as a Golf's.
Value for money
Even entry-level Beetles include integrated driver and side airbags, Isofix child seat mounts in the back, stability control and anti-lock brakes. The top-spec Sport is a similar price to the less generously equipped and less efficient three-door Golf GT, and is an interesting alternative to the Vauxhall Astra GTC and Renault Megane Coupe GT Line TomTom. A limited edition Beetle GSR is also for sale and comes with an eye-catching yellow and black paint job. Numbers are limited to just 100 in the UK, though, with all cars commanding a price hike of around £500 over the standard Beetle Sport. The Volkswagen badge attracts a premium over its competitors in the used car market, so the Beetle should have lasting appeal as a second-hand proposition.
The 1.2-litre turbo Beetle returns 47.9mpg economy and emits 137g/km of CO2, while the 1.4-litre superturbo engine promises 42.8mpg and 153g/km. Most efficienct choice is the 2.0 TDI diesel, which claims 57.6mpg and 129g/km. The fact the Beetle shares components with other VW products reduces servicing costs, which should be in line with the Golf's. There is also a fixed-price servicing deal, which offers three years of servicing for £329.