Volkswagen Beetle hatchback (1999-2010)
“If you love classic motoring style, cars don’t come much more recognisable or characterful than VW’s Bug.”
- Classic icon revisited
- Airy, light-filled cabin
- More characterful than most rivals
- Rounded bodywork makes it hard to judge car's position
- Curved roof and three doors limit practicality
- Dated Golf chassis
The rounded Volkswagen Beetle hatchback is essentially a cuddly Golf – albeit one that uses an outdated chassis from a few generations ago. The cool, classic vibe extends to the cabin, with a distinctive body coloured dashboard and big, round dials, while a fun colour palette and funky accessories enhance the youthful, trendy image. Good road manners and a comfortable drive, plus ample performance from a choice of petrol and diesel engines, add substance to the style.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Engines, drive & performance
The 1.4, 1.6, 1.8T and 2.0-litre petrol engines plus a 1.9 diesel give the Volkswagen Beetle a good spread of performance, while the Golf chassis ensures a comfortable drive. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard fit, although the largest petrol model can also be had with a six-speed automatic. Those dated underpinnings mean the car has been left far behind dynamically by rivals, though.
Interior & comfort
A decent driving position and comfortable seats make the Beetle a nice place in which to spend time, whether high-speed cruising on a motorway or sitting in city traffic. Even better, the power-assisted steering wheel is both height and reach adjustable. To relax you even more, there’s a standard-fit dash-mounted vase in which you can place a flower to match your mood!
Practicality & boot space
Three-door cars are never as practical as five-doors – but if you rarely carry rear passengers, the Beetle's sacrifice in the name of style is worth making. When you do have adults in the back, they may well get neck ache, as the sloping roof cuts headroom. The rounded silhouette means the boot isn’t very big, either, at 209 litres with the seats in place and 769 litres with them folded.
Reliability & safety
Volkswagen is renowned for its solid build quality, and the Beetle has been around so long that there should be no major problems. Minor irritations in older examples include a sticking fuel filler cap, squeaking front seats and a few electrical issues.
Price, value for money & options
What price style? The Volkswagen Beetle costs more than comparable versions of its retro-styled three-door rival, the MINI. As with its competitor, though, you’ll be buying into a legend, which means the Bug comes complete with a dedicated owner community – and such enthusiasts help provide camaraderie and ownership pleasure that money can’t buy.