Independent review by Peter Hayward from Driving Force
- Retro styling
- Decent to drive
- Typical VW quality
- Not as practical as other VWs
- Firm ride
- The Golf it's based on is better
What's the VW Beetle like?
Anyone who wants the excellent capabilities of the Volkswagen Golf in a funkier and more stylish shape need look no further than the last series Beetle. There's even a soft-top cabriolet to add to the summer fun with wind-in-the-hair motoring at the couch of a button.
Both models went out of production in 2018 despite selling well in many countries around the world. The company has said it may produce a new version of the car in the future, with an electric drivetrain.
So what does the Beetle give you that the Golf doesn’t? Well it certainly has retro appeal, with a shape that goes back to 1939 in the original Volkswagen - or people’s car.
Engines range up from a 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol with 105bhp, to a 1.4-litre turbo with 125bhp or 150bhp, and a 2.0-litre with 197bhp and up to 220bhp.
Diesels are the well-known 1.6-litre TDI with 105bhp and the 2.0-litre with up to 150bhp. The 1.6-litre TDI is the economy champion, managing an average of 66mpg, whilst the 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre petrol models are both rated at around 50mpg.
All are reasonably quick with acceleration to 60mph taking 10.5 seconds even in the lowest powered 1.2-litre TSi petrol and 1.6-litre TDi diesel.
The 150bhp 1.4-litre brings this down to 8.4 seconds and the 210bhp 2.0-litre takes just 7.1. The quickest diesel is the 2.0-litre TDI with 150bhp, and that covers the 0 to 60mph sprint in 8.6 seconds.
Gearboxes are the standard and very good VW 6-speed manual, or the excellent but very expensive dual clutch DSG auto.
Its comfortable, comes with excellent reliability and build quality and it has good to excellent performance with very good handling.
However, it’s nowhere near as practical as the Golf, and although the ride in lower order models is good, this is spoilt in those fitted with sports suspension, which seems to be most of the higher powered versions.
The suspension was completely revised for this Beetle, and turned what was quite a basic handler into a something much more enjoyable. There’s plenty of grip even when pressed hard, and the balance is as good as that in the Golf. The excellent VW group steering is precise and full of feedback.
Avoid any with large alloys and sports suspension. These ruin the good ride.
The 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre TSI versions are fitted with VW’s electronic differential lock, which improves cornering and traction by preventing wheelspin.
Equipment and Practicality
It shares many parts with the Golf and improved on the Mk1 with a higher level of standard equipment, better engines and improved practicality.
The boot, for example, is a massive 44 percent bigger, and space for rear seat passengers is vastly improved.
Small details add interest and make the cabin stand out from the ordinary, like a unique dash with two glove boxes, elasticated door pockets and drop-down grab handles for those in the rear.
The seats are comfortable with good adjustment for all sizes, and the steering wheel adjusts for tilt and reach.
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Find your VW Beetle your way with CarStore
If you're a fan of retro styling and are not too fussed by a reduction in practicality, then the VW Beetle may be the used car for you. It's based on the textbook VW Golf and so has a great foundation, just in this particular package it's more unique and quirky, for those who like to stray from the obvious hatchback choice.
Here at CarStore, you're able to buy your car your way. Whether that be online, in-person, or a mix of both, the choice is yours. With an extensive variety of used cars available, we're sure to have a car that suits your lifestyle.