Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (2011 - ) review
Read the Volkswagen Beetle (2011 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.5 The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is the third incarnation of VW’s most iconic car and takes a step back to the 1938 original in terms of styling, plus a step forward from the New Beetle in terms of driving and practicality.
- Better-looking than its predecessor
- Improved practicality
- More fun to drive
- More expensive than other “style” or retro cars
- Space still limited
- Ride over-firm for some tastes
At a glance
The new Volkswagen Beetle is now bigger and lower than its modern day predecessor and the once cartoon car style has been ditched for a coupe-like shape more reminiscent of the original 1938 vehicle. The rear is a strong reminder that the Beetle has a shared family history with Porsche. The design also reflects Volkswagen’s desire to attract more male buyers.
It probably won’t do Volkswagen’s chances of attracting male buyers any harm to have got rid of the vase which adorned the dashboard of the New Beetle. A pairing of upward-folding and downward-folding glove boxes now dominate the dash, harking back to the first Volkswagen Beetle as does the mounting of instrumentation dials atop the dashboard which can be specified as an option. Unfortunately, some of the interior plastics are disappointingly hard in places.
As with much of the MINI range, practicality is the price buyers pay for a slice of retro. However, there have been big improvements with this second generation New Beetle. The 310-litre boot capacity falls somewhere between supermini and family hatchback and compares very favourably with the 209 litres offered by the previous generation model. Flipping the rear seats forward increases this area to 905 litres, compared with the New Beetle’s 767 litres. The Volkswagen Beetle is a three-door car with just two rear seats and while those two rear seats offer somewhat restricted legroom, rear access is very good and the coupe-styling means a big improvement to rear headroom.
Ride and handling
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle boasts vastly improved driving dynamics partly thanks to an all-new suspension set-up. Some might find this a little firm, especially those opting for the Sport version of the car, but the trade-off is a much more involving drive than previously.
The range will be launched with a choice of three petrol engines: the 104bhp 1.2 TSI, 158bhp 1.4 TSI and the 197BHP 2.0 TSI as well as one diesel version the 104bhp 2.0 TDI. These will be available with DSG automatic gearboxes or five or six speed manual gearboxes depending on trim-level. The range-topping 2.0 TSI we tested sounded fruity and the 6-speed DSG gearbox shifted cogs seamlessly.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle will start from around £15k, which is slightly pricier than its predecessor. However, the 105bhp 1.6-litre TDI version offers supreme economy, returning 65.7mpg on the combined run and 114g/km of CO2.
This is an all-new car but features engines and components found in other Volksawagen models. Volkswagen finished 10th in a list of manufacturers according to customer feedback in the 2011 JD Power Survey while the previous New Beetle had a strong reputation for reliability according to the Reliability Index.
All derivatives of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle come with two front and two side airbags, anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and an electronic stabilisation programme (ESP). The previous-generation Beetle achieved a four-star rating in Euro NCAP crash testing, but this version scored the full five stars.
The Volkswagen Beetle will be available in three trim levels: Beetle, Design and Sport. Standard equipment will include air-con, DAB radio, multi-function steering wheel, two front and side airbags, ABS and ESP. Design adds multi-function leather steering wheel and Bluetooth. Sport adds black wing mirrors and parking sensors. Optional extras include sat-nav, keyless entry and start, panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, parking sensors and dash-mounted gauges.