Aggregated reviews, user reviews, videos, photos and stats
- Smart retro styling
- Modern engines
- Enjoyable to drive
- Cramped back seats
- Firm ride
- Interior quality isn’t great
Fans of the old car’s flower vase may be disappointed that it’s no longer present in this model, but in every other area, the new Beetle appears to be a significant step forward. The interior build quality has been noticeably improved, though not fully to the levels you may expect from a modern VW, and there’s now a bit more passenger and luggage space than before. A few new reminiscent touches have been added that were inspired by the ‘proper’ original Beetle, such as the positioning of the glove box in the dashboard.
Despite the improvements, though, there are a few practicality issues – some reviews thought that taller people may find there isn’t enough headroom in the Beetle, there are only two chairs in the back and, because the car’s only available as a three-door, access to them is a bit tricky.
Underneath the retro skin lies a chassis that is almost identical to the one you’ll find underpinning the current VW Golf, so it’s not too surprising to find that testers were satisfied with the Beetle’s ride and handling. Though by no means the last word in pure entertainment behind the wheel, most reckon it’s a pleasant enough car to steer in a variety of conditions, and the improved visibility makes it an easier car to navigate around town with than the previous Beetle.
There were a few negatives with how the Beetle drove, though. The most recurring complaint regards the ride, which even on the standard set-up seems to be a bit too firm and jittery at slower speeds. Others weren’t fond of the weighty yet not particularly intuitive steering, and one reckoned there was a bit too much road and wind noise at speeds higher than 60mph.
Currently, there’s a range of five engines to opt for – three petrols and two diesels – and all the motors that have been tested so far appear to be very good indeed. Though not all are brimming with power – the 1.2 petrol only has 100bhp on tap – all engines offer respectable performance, given their outputs, are suitably civilised and refined and most of them shouldn’t be too expensive to run.
None of the diesels have been tested so far, but based on other Volkswagen Group cars that are fitted with what are essentially identical engines, they should be quite good. They’re also, on paper at least, the most frugal – the 1.6 diesel, for instance, should be able to return over 60mpg.
Most reviews have concentrated on the 197bhp TSI petrol from the Golf GTI, which is smooth, flexible, happy to rev and at 7.5 seconds to 60mph, quick too. As ever, a speedy dual-clutch gearbox is an option.
Value for money
From some perspectives, the Beetle does look like good value for money. It’s a bit cheaper to buy than the Golf it’s based on, yet comes with more standard equipment – all the most basic cars come with a DAB radio, alloy wheels and dual-zone air conditioning, for instance, and the cheapest 1.2 can surprisingly be fitted with a seven-speed automatic.
Running costs are also highly similar to the ones you’ll find on the Golf and the combination of the distinctive styling and the VW badge means residuals should be quite good too.
However, the Beetle does look a bit pricey when compared with rivals, especially the more expensive models. It’s also worth pointing out it’s also not quite as practical or as spacious as some of them either.
Different variants of the Beetle are expected to arrive in the near future. There's rumours of a fully electric version. Performance addicts will also be pleased to know that a range-topping ‘R’ version is also being considered.
As with some other cars in this class, the Beetle comes with a wide array of personalisation and premium options – you can specify a Fender sound system, ‘Turbo’ badging on the boot and various other bits and bobs that make the VW uniquely yours. However, remember that it’s very easy to make the Beetle an expensive car if you’re not too careful!
Overall, the new Volkswagen Beetle is an undoubted improvement over its predecessor – not only is it a more fitting tribute to the original than the ‘New Beetle’ was, but it also better ride and handling characteristics, along with superior interior space and practicality, and the more mature styling hasn’t lost any of the visual appeal the old car had.
The Beetle isn’t brilliant in every area, and we’re more inclined to recommend other cars in this class that are better all-round propositions. That said, the VW is still a good overall car, and it’s highly likely that a majority of buyers will opt for the Bug purely for the way it looks.
If you’re interested in owning a stylish and unashamedly retro runabout, then the Beetle certainly makes a convincing case for itself, and is worth having a closer look at.
- Price range:
- £15,515 - £26,410
- 42 - 65
- Safety rating (NCAP):
- Date released:
- Replacement due:
- Not for many years!
- Model history:
- The 1.2 TSI and 1.6 TDI engines were added in September 2012. Full details here.
- Other variants:
- There's also a convertible! The Beetle Cabriolet.
- Engine naming:
- TSI engines are petrol, TDI are diesel
- The carbuzz team have been testing the Beetle, check out our full road test here.
- Find out what VW Beetle Deals we've got, compare prices and buy direct from official UK dealers
A quick tour round the outside and inside of the new 2012 Beetle.
Cool TV commercial for the new Beetle.
A really detailed video showing the interior. There's no sound, but it does the cabin really well.
Which? Magazine give a video review of the 2012 Beetle. Really useful video sharing what it's like to drive, what equipment comes as standard, the build quality and the interior. It seem they're impressed!