VW Beetle Review

OUR TEST CAR: VW Beetle Turbo 2.0 TSI 2012

VW Beetle - Page - 1
It all starts in the ground, where iron ore seems to have been carefully hidden by giant invisible hands over the course of history. These rocks and minerals are extracted and then transformed by fragile, human hands, and step by step, the metal is brought to a form that allows humans to turn carbon drawings into reality.

Fire is an essential element in this process and as the temperature increase, molecular structures perfectly follow the scripts written by engineers. No line is forgotten and all the rules of physics and chemistry are strictly followed.

In the end, it all becomes a car, a self-propelled object that allows humans to travel from A to B much faster than they would using their again fragile legs.

However, this isn't the end of the process, but just an intermediate stage, as the metallic contraption starts growing on humans, pushes their buttons and becomes a powerful generator of feelings and emotions.

So, how can a car end up playing a role that's far greater than functional in one's life? How car a motor vehicle end up becoming a cult object, something that deeply influences people's lives in a way that's so complex it can barely be described in words?

There are multiple good answers to this question and the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the best. This is a car that was born in Germany in the late 30s and ever since has developed as many faces as a diamond.

The Beetle has to be the best actor in the world, with its portfolio including roles such as a people's car, a military vehicle, a hippie symbol, a four-wheeled definition of VW, a surf culture symbol, a drag racer, a button for becoming cool - frankly, we could go on forever, but we're not here for that.

The reason we are using our keyboards to manipulate 1s and 0s today is that we want to tell you what the name "Beetle" means nowadays.

The first generation was produced up to the early 2000s, while the second generation, which appeared around the same time and was put to sleep last year, was an example of how not even the greatest laurels are worth sleeping on.

Yes, the second incarnation of the Beetle was some sort of a disappointment, as it didn't have the necessary assets to make its name shine in the modern world.

However, VW launched a third generation of the Bug late last year and this promises to everything its predecessor couldn't and bring the "Beetle" name to the post-modern era.

Vee-Dub markets the car as an unisex one and the company has fitted the car with features that try to back this claim, but we feel a "she" under the cold metal and we want to tell you that we've recently had an affair with her 2.0 TSI version (Beetle Turbo in the US). Let's see how things turned out when we were left alone with the Beetle.

When the Beetle was told that she'd have to put on a new set of clothes for the premiere of her 3rd generation movie, she realized that, since she was basically going on a date with a world of people that are much more demanding than they were in the past, she has to do anything she can to look good.

Thus, she allowed doctors to do whatever it took to achieve this goal. The Bug is now longer and wider, but comes with a lower profile. Our test car had swapped her high heels for a pair of winter boots, but didn't keep everybody that saw the car from complimenting it with a smile.

The Beetle rides on the VW Golf (it's actually closer to the Jetta) platform - we are talking about the VW A5 architecture- and also shares the Puebla assembly plant in Mexico with her cousin.

Designing the Beetle was no easy task, as her predecessor was one of the leaders of the new-age retro movement, so just pulling of a classic-design-turned-modern move wasn't enough. In addition to that, the American market is just as important for the Beetle as the European one, so the car has to please both sides of the ocean.

In case you're wondering why we're calling her a... "her", this is because this is the impression that its styling cues left on us, despite the fact that Das Auto wants us to believe that we are dealing with a unisex car.

It's actually a matter of taste, but we challenge those who support VW's claim to get behind the wheel of this mix of round and angular shape, take a short drive and then survey those who are passing by - we can assure you that thiscar has a special way of making everybody notice its presence.

This trendy girl is a master of turning heads, but what happens when you get to sit together for a little conversation? Well, she doesn't quite manage to deliver what you expect, but she does play some games that can generate attraction.

The first thing you notice when you climb aboard is the low glasshouse, which gives you a dynamic impression. Next, our attention was drawn by the carbon-like trimming, which cover a generous area of the dashboard, with this shape, together with the classic layout of the glove box, reminding us of the classic Beetle.

Her sport seats manage to deliver a good compromise between comfort and a little bit of attitude, even though they lack proper lateral support. She constantly likes to play with your mind, so she'll also hit you with light rings placed around the front doors speakers.

As for the ergonomics, these deserve a high mark, which was predictable, since we're talking about a VW interior.

However, in the Beetle's case, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. While you can also add good interior space in the front (the rear individual seats, a trick borrowed from the Scirocco, are decent) you'll expect the conclusion to be a top one. But it isn't.

This is because while miss Beetle has many good interior cards, in the end she doesn't play them right, due to the fact that it lack that something special called "fun factor", which means that the cabin can't raise to the standard brought by the exterior. However, compared to the previous generation of the car, the interior is a major improvement in all areas.

While the Beetle Turbo is well suited for trips outside the city thanks to the multi-faceted character offered by its powertrain and increased cabin space, the vehicle seems to feel better on urban roads.

The 2-liter turbocharged engine delivers its power in a linear way up to the red line, which means that you never have to worry about keeping the car in the optimal power band. This cheeky girl also has another trick up her sleeve: the six-speed, double-clutch DSG gearbox, which not only changes gears seamingless, but always knows what the driver knows.

Thus, every date with Miss B.T. is a perfect one, regardless if the location is the crowded morning rush hour, or the lounge-like night driving.

Despite it's low profile, the cabin offers good visibility and, especially if assisted by parking sensors, like in our test car, persuading her to wait patiently in a corner for you to finish what you have to id fairly easy.

She now carries a purse that can swallow about a third more than before - we're talking about a girl so it's only natural that she's fit for shopping.

However, she's just a tad to proud when walking, which means that certain flaws in the urban asphalt will be transmitted to you. Our test car was wearing her winter boots, but we're pretty sure that when she put on her high heels certain areas of the city can become a bit unpleasant to visit.

In spite of the fact that she packs 200 hp, she doesn't necessarily like spending time at Gasbucks (our urban fuel efficiency sits at 17.8 mpg  or 13.2 L/100Km) , mainly thanks to the DSG gearbox and turbocharged, direct-injected engine.

The combination between the Golf GTI engine and the low glasshouse means that, when you step on her gas, she really knows how to make you aware of the fact that you're gathering speed, which in the city means that you don't have to drive dangerously in order to have fun.

When we took the first look at the Beetle Turbo, we expected to meet a fashionable girl that had received an explosive family heritage but wasn't all that sure what to do with it. We were wrong- this is a cheeky one that isn't shy in putting its 200 hp to use.

OK, you won't beat any hot hatch, but you'll get pretty close to the segment's benchmark, the Golf GTI, which is also the donor car for the engine and gearbox.

On paper, the Beetle is around 45 kg (100 lbs) heavier than the GTI, while being 10 hp short on power (compared to the Euro version - the US-spec version of the GTI offers the same 200 hp).

On paper, this can be translated into a 0.6 second delay for the 0 to 62 mph sprint. In the real world, you'll have to be extra careful if you're willing to challenge any hot hatch at the traffic lights, as you have many chances of getting the rear end hazard lights.

However, the Beetle's purpose is not to be raced, but to provide a pleasant dynamic experience in a chique package and this is exactly what it does. In isolation, the vehicle delivers top thrills, with the engine pulling well throughout the rev range and offering a delicious soundtrack as a bonus.

By the time we finished drawing these conclusion, the Beetle looked us in the eyes and invited us to a dance through the bends. The result? the conclusion is the same, but for a totally different reason.

The Beetle has a tendency to let its back end out if you drive it at the limit through the bends, which is pretty nice if you're an enthusiastic driver. So, you think you can play rough little one? OK, let's ditch that ESP and see what you're really made of!

Wait, what? We can't turn on the ESP? How are we supposed to exploit the playful nature of the rear end then?

Fine, we'll remind ourselves once again that the Beetle is not actually a hot hatch and we'll drive it accordingly. But then we end up with a car that wants to slide and can't be driven in a 100 percent safe manner , since the rear steps out, but can't, as the electronic nanny is always present, which is frustrating.

However, if you use her as a pretty girl with some spice hidden in its purse, the Beetle starts making sense. Just don't push it to the limit and you'll discover a car that had very many ways of making you smile.
57user rating 36 votes
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autoevolution Jan 2012
In the city
Open road
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57user rating 36 votes
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