In-depth Reviews

Volkswagen Beetle hatchback (2011-2019) - Engines, drive & performance

The Volkswagen Beetle is an enjoyable car to drive

Carbuyer Rating

2.8 out of 5

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Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

2.5 out of 5

Being based on a VW Golf – even the previous model – means the Beetle enjoys solid, predictable handling. It’s not unexciting, either: on winding B-roads the Beetle is easy to place thanks to its accurate steering, while the suspension gets the balance generally right between insulating you from potholes and minimising body roll.

It’s not quite as entertaining to drive as the MINI, but it has the Fiat 500 soundly beaten in the handling stakes. We recommend the six-speed manual gearbox as, while the seven-speed automatic is generally decent, it can be a little slow to change gear, particularly at lower speeds.

Things are slightly less rosy around town, though, where the Beetle’s curved shaped makes parking tricky compared to a conventional hatchback. This is a price many are willing to pay for the distinctive looks, though, and all-round parking sensors are a reasonably priced option.

Volkswagen Beetle Petrol engines

There’s no bad engine in the Beetle’s catalogue. The turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol is eager and powerful enough to get the car from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds, but it’s worth upgrading to the 148bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre if you’re planning on doing a lot of motorway journeys. 0-62mph takes 8.9 seconds with this engine.

A 217bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is still available if you order a pre-facelift Beetle Turbo Black or Beetle Sport. This makes the car impressively brisk (0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds), although economy drops to 43.5mpg.

Diesel engines

Both of the 2.0-litre diesels are good. The 108bhp version’s 0-62mpg time of 11 seconds may sound slow, but once on the move progress is reasonably decent. Upgrading to the 148bhp diesel reduces the 0-62mph time to 8.9 seconds (9.2 seconds with the Dune model) and makes motorway overtakes more relaxing, but you’ll need Dune or R-Line trim to get this engine, so it’s a relatively expensive choice.

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