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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

Owners Rating

4.1 out of 5

Read owner reviews
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.

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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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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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