Should you go out and buy a new VW Beetle?

The original Volkswagen Beetle is considered by many as the world’s first people’s car. It’s not, because that title belongs to the Ford Model-T.
However, you can say that after the Second World War, the VW Beetle was the first mass produced car and the mandate was simple, it should be reliable and happily transport a family of four with their groceries.
The original Beetle was a humongous sales success, selling in vast numbers all over the world. It also stayed in production for a very long time, being produced in Mexico for the local market up until 2003. Over 21-million of these things had been produced, and that is not the kind of success you can ignore.
Hoping to capture that success once again, VW launched a new Beetle in 1998. Unlike the original, it was not rear engined, but it was a huge success, especially in the beginning.
I liked this one quite a lot, and since my brother owned a 2000 model year example, I drove it quite a bit during my last year of college. His Beetle only had a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that produced 115-hp, but it revved happily to its redline and handled really well, so it was lots of fun to drive.
Perhaps the best thing about it was it’s interior. Every knob, button and dial had a unique look to it, making the Beetle a very special car.
Starting from the 2012 model year, VW is offering another new Beetle. It is the biggest Beetle ever and sits on a new platform, but is it as good as the one it replaces or is it better?
Let’s start with the styling. The 2012 Beetle looks undoubtedly like a Beetle. The roof-line is not as rounded as before, and the rear lights has taken an all-new shape, but it is still undeniably a Beetle. Parking it next to the outgoing model, it looked better in a few areas but also poorer in some. Not fully convinced on the styling then.
The interior causes no confusion regarding which one is better, the old or the new. I think the older model was much better. Like I mentioned before, in the previous model, everything about its interior looked unique for this car, especially the instrument cluster with the needle caps having its unique design and that wonderful little rev counter nestled in that small cluster. It really looked like VW spent a lot of time and energy designing and making that interior. The 2012 Beetle has bits taken from all the other VW products currently made and the distinctive details are no longer there. This interior seems to have been put in a hurry and at a lower cost.
Otherwise the interior in the new Bug is still quite roomy and decently comfortable, as long as you sit in the front seats, anyone who spends any amount of time in the hard rear seats will have back issues.
Open the trunk and you’ll find decent amounts of space for your groceries, so it is quite practical.
It is also quite fast. My old Beetle only had a base 115-hp motor as I mentioned, the 2012 Beetle has 170-hp on offer in the base model. Not only does it have an impressive horsepower figure, it also has lots of torque, 177-lb/ft at 4250-rpm to be exact, so be in no doubt, this things moves, especially in its ‘sport’ setting.
The power comes courtesy of VW’s 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine, which has been used in various VW vehicles before and was offered in the 2006 and onwards version of the previous Beetle also. It just produces more power now and more power is always appreciated.
Power is fed to the front wheels via a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 6-speed automatic. My test car had the latter.
While this gearbox is smooth and shifts quite quickly, I wished my tester was a manual, because given how nice VW’s manual gearboxes are, the manual would be more fun to drive.
If you want even more fun, you can opt for the Turbo model which gives you a 2.0-liter, turbo-charged, four-cylinder that produces 200-hp. This model can be had with either a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch gearbox, but it will cost you extra.
The model I had, called ‘Comfortline’ was decent enough for everyday driving. The one thing I wish it was better at was it’s handling.
The previous Beetle had a very solid feel on the road, you could actually feel that its tires had four-square contact patches against the road and that is the sort of feel that had been mastered by the German’s. The newest Beetle doesn’t feel like that at all. It has a wobbly, balloonish feel that is more reminiscent of American cars from the 1980’s. Not good.
The steering also lacks the feel of the previous model and is a bit too soft for my taste.
So to sum it up, the latest Beetle has decent space with plenty of pace, but not much else.
Prices start at $21,975 and can go quite a bit higher from there. So it’s cheaper and more powerful than a base Mini Cooper, but not as nice to drive, yet it’s also more expensive than a Fiat 500 and is not as creatively put together. Plus at 9.0-liters/100km during my week of driving, it drinks a bit more than the competition also. So, would I buy a 2012 Beetle? Umm… No!

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One Response to Should you go out and buy a new VW Beetle?

  1. Casimira says:

    Fantastic article, man. Just can’t wait for your next one.

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