Beetle 1.2 TSI DSG Design
to the Volkswagen Beetle.
the new Beetle, as distinct
from the New
which is now
the old Beetle...
CONFUSED? ER, SORRY ABOUT THAT. I'm
still getting my head around the naming strategy for VW's
latest 2012 Beetle, which has just arrived on UK shores.
It's a Beetle, but not as we know it. The just-replaced 'New Beetle' was very
much aimed at the ladies, what with its cutesy-curvy styling and a flower vase
in the dash. In contrast, the new 'just call me Beetle' Beetle has 'manned'
For a start, it sits lower to the ground with more of a coupe look than a hatchback.
And as for the flower vase, well, you can look but you won't find one. Sales
of sunflowers around the globe will no doubt be tumbling…
But down to business… let's get the beastie started. My test machine was a 1.2
TSI the entry-level petrol-drinking powerplant with 103bhp. Despite the
relative lack of power, owners really won't feel short-changed by the performance.
a kick from the turbocharger to keep things flexible at low revs, and because
this is an engine that loves to rev, it's more than happy spinning away at the
upper end too. Actually, it's an all-round-sweet-spot engine that totally belies
its modest on-paper figures (0-62mph in 10.9 seconds).
Theres a kick from the
turbocharger to keep
things flexible at low
revs, and because this is
an engine that loves
to rev, its more than
happy spinning away at
the upper end too.
Actually, its an all-round-
sweet-spot engine that
totally belies its modest
And I'd go so far as to say the 1.2 TSI is easily the pick of the engines in
the range although, sadly, you can't buy one for the moment because the
factory in Mexico is so flat-out that the only right-hand drive cars available
during 2012 will be 1.4-litre twin-charged petrol with 158bhp and a manual 'box.
Other engines available at the end of 2012 are a 197bhp 2.0 TSI and two diesels
a 1.6 with 103bhp and a 138bhp 2.0-litre.
The DSG six-speed semi-automatic gearbox that's standard-fit in the 1.2 TSI
is slick, quick and smooth better still, it has a Sport mode that keeps
the engine spinning in the sweet zone at speed. However, it does lack VW's normal
DSG steering wheel 'paddles' for manual shifts instead, you must push-pull
the gear lever.
How does it behave on the road? The answer is Very Much Like A Golf. Which is
not too surprising since that's basically what underpins this latest Beetle.
For the most part, that's good news and the new-shape model is certainly
way more fun than the one it replaces.
The handling is assured; it feels safe and predictable. Is it a driver's car,
though? Not really. The steering feel doesn't have that precision or confidence
that enthusiastic drivers will crave.
The suspension, while stiff, gives a comfortable enough ride quality
at least it does if you select the right wheels. In Sport trim, the suspension
is set up very stiffly, and while 18-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres
might look good, they can make life quite crashy. My advice: stick to the retro-feel
Inside, there's decent space for four adults and with much more headroom than
the previous Beetle provided. The cabin still narrows quite a lot in the rear;
leg room for taller people might be tight. There's a lot more boot space than
before but it's still much smaller than a Golf. And while it's easy enough to
fold down the 50:50 split rear seats, you're left with a step in the load floor.
will be an issue for some drivers: the rear pillars are huge; the interior mirror
is tiny; and there's no rear screen wiper.
Design trim the
Beetle looks very retro:
1950s-style Denim Blue
paint scheme and
chromed hub caps
when was the moment
abandoned these cool-
Three trim levels are available: Beetle, Design and Sport. I drove the Design,
which looked very retro with its 1950s-style Denim Blue paint scheme and chromed
hub caps (when was the moment when designers abandoned these cool-looking things?).
VW has revived the original Beetle's flip-up dashboard glovebox another
neat retro touch, even though the glovebox itself would struggle to hold a pair
My test Beetle was also fitted with another item of achingly cool hardware:
a Fender sound system. Yes, the same people who tooled-up Jimmy Hendrix are
now also making audio systems for Beetles at £495 a pop, including a subwoofer
in the boot and illuminated speakers. Cool, but not in fact terribly hi-fi
companies like Bose do car sound systems so much better.
However, the Beetle is not all about cute retro charm. Choose the right Sport
trim grade and the right options and you can end up with a pretty masculine
looking machine. With chunky alloys and a rear spoiler, the Beetle even starts
to look a bit like a miniature Porsche 911 Turbo no coincidence, perhaps,
since the original Beetle and 911 were much closer related than kissin' cousins.
Even with these butch tweaks, the Beetle may still look too cute and retro for
some customers. The more masculine target market may still regard it as not
sporty enough, but to satisfy them VW has the Scirocco. For everyone else, the
Beetle has a charm and a style that's got undeniable smile appeal. Chris
Beetle 1.2 TSI DSG Design | £18,895
Maximum speed: 111mph | 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds | Overall test MPG: 47.9mpg
Power: 103bhp | Torque: 129lb ft | CO2 137g/km