By Ian Strachan
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of those cars that puts a smile on your face. It was re-launched in 2012 with a freshen-up last year, and looks more like the original than the previous iteration, though you won’t find the engine in the back! This Beetle has the engine where it should be, and very good engines they are too.
The Beetle may look retro, with its slightly bubble shape and that distinctive sloping back, but it’s definitely a car for the here and now. It comes well equipped, with high quality trim and materials and a very pleasant ride.
I tested the R-Line trim level of the Beetle, powered by a willing 2.0 litre, 150 bhp turbo-charged diesel engine. It’s a lively unit with plenty of lower end power. The engine is linked to a pleasant six-speed manual gearbox and you can get 61.4 miles to the gallon despite the engine’s more-than-adequate power delivery.
To look at, the Beetle is still as distinctive as it ever was, though its features have been updated and softened. A large spoiler on the rear may sound odd for a Beetle but it looks OK. My test car came in a distinctive Habanero Orange with double black decal stripes across the bonnet, roof and rear spoiler. A real head-turner, particularly with smart 18 inch alloys.
Inside you get simplicity, an attention to detail and high quality materials. The seats are supportive and very comfortable, and the room in the back, although not wonderful, is adequate. Boot capacity is better than you would expect and can be increased by folding the rear seats.
Handling is crisp and positive – even a little sporty – thanks to a not-too-soft suspension set-up and nicely-rated power steering. Steering is always solid and predictable, with good feedback through the steering wheel.
Standard equipment on the Beetle R-Line is impressive and includes all-round airbags for front and rear passengers, remote central locking with electronic immobiliser, two-zone air-conditioning, eight-speaker MP3 compatible DAB radio and CD player with Bluetooth and colour touchscreen, electric front windows and mirrors, front fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, hill-hold function and split folding rear seat. My test car also came with satellite navigation with traffic information (£665) , voice activation (£195), and heated front seats (£255).
The manual Beetle R-Line 2.0 TDi which I test drove comes in at £23,275 on the road, which isn’t cheap for a car of this size, but you are buying into the Beetle legend, solid VW brand values and resale values which should hold up well, despite it being a diesel.