Saturday, August 12, 2017

(Used) Devon test drives the redesigned Beetle

File:2012 Volkswagen Beetle -- NHTSA 2.jpg

The Volkswagen Beetle has always been regarded as a chick car. With a large portion of its buyers being female. Now Volkswagen has decided to change up the Beetle formula. Giving it a more masculine design and a dose of sport to help shape up its new image, but has it worked? Let's find out.

Performance: There's two engines available with the Beetle. A familiar 2.5-liter five-cylinder with 170hp and a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 200hp. Pick of the bunch is the turbo engine. It's the most fun to drive form of the Beetle. There's plenty of punch and fuel economy isn't that much different than the 2.5. 

Ride & Handling: The Beetle features two different rear supsension setups. The turbo forms offer a multi-link arrangement from the GTI. In this form, body sway is well controlled and there's plenty of sideways grip. The lower trims have a more basic rear suspension set up which doesn't feel as sporty as the turbo forms. Both suspensions however offer a firm ride at low speeds and steering is quite slow to react. 

Refinement: The Beetle is generally refined, although the frameless doors generate quite a bit of wind noise. The turbo engine also generates quite a bit of induction roar. The DSG gearbox is generally smooth, but it can be jerky at low speeds. 

Behind the wheel: The Beetle's dashboard has been inspired by the original. This means its taller than in most modern cars and has a squared off front. You can go even further with the retro vibe and have the dashboard painted the same color as the car. All of the switches and controls are clearly laid out and easy to operate. 

Space & Practicality: The Beetle only has four seats. There's plenty of room in the front for people of all shapes and sizes. The back seats however are cramped. The boot is a decent size, almost as much room as you'd find in a Golf. The sloped bootlid makes it difficult to carry tall items. 

Equipment: The Beetle comes with an array of trim levels to choose from. The base trim offers cd-player, air-con, Bluetooth and electronic stability control. Turbo form offers a rear spoiler, 18 inch alloy wheels and sport cloth seats. Top of the range offers an upgraded sound system, navigation system, leather seating surfaces and a sunroof. 

Buying & Owning: The base trim of the Beetle cost a few thousand more than a two-door Golf. So its not really all that cheap to buy and discounts will be hard to comeby as the Beetle was just redesigned. Resale value is too soon rate. Fuel economy is decent which means running costs shouldn't be too bad. 

Quality and Reliability: The Beetle's interior trim feels a bit cheap in some areas. You'll find softer feeling plastics in a Golf, for example the plastics on the center console and around the front center armrest are hard and scratchy. At least most of the switches and controls feel weighty. Underneath, the Beetle shares most of its parts with the Golf, so reliability should be good. 

Safety & Security: The Beetle comes with side-curtian airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. Not to mention the reputation of Volkswagen safety. On the security front, you get an alarm, deadlocks and a visible VIN with plenty of marked parts. 

The redesigned Beetle pushes all the right buttons. The new design is much more sporty, with a more retro interior to match that of the original. However the Beetle once again chooses style over practicality. You can buy a two-door Golf for less money if you want the extra space for rear passengers and boot space. But you'll be missing the point of the Beetle. It's a retro-throw back to the original, offers a nicer interior and is more engaging to drive than the pervious form. If you desire a car that stands out and don't mind the compromised practicality, this car is well worth the look.

Devon's Pick: The Turbo form makes the most sense. It's the most exciting to drive all while being not too much more expensive than the 2.5. Running costs are decent and equipment is also decent. 

Devon M 

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