Volkswagen Beetle front

Volkswagen Beetle – Review

From the people’s car to a style icon, the Volkswagen Beetle has come a long way. Since the New Volkswagen Beetle was introduced into Ireland in 2000, VW and MINI have been battling it out for the most retro ride. But what gives the Beetle the edge?

Volkswagen Beetle front

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Volkswagen Beetle R-Line
Engine: 2.0TDI diesel – 150hp and 340Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed DSG automatic, front wheel drive.  
Price: Prices for the Beetle range start at €25,075. Price as tested – €35,350

You Want a Retro Ride? Say No More…

This is the Volkswagen Beetle’s party piece. Subtle retro touches compliment the coupe’s bubble yet masculine-lined Sandstorm Yellow body. Such as, the retro “duck-tail” spoiler, the chrome and black 17-inch Spin alloy wheels and Beetle font. Up front, the big innocent yet focused-eyed headlights take dominance over the two front wings. The thin-mouthed grill breaks the front end. The only thing the New Beetle is missing on the clam-shell bonnet is the chrome handle, otherwise it pays perfect homage to the original car.

Volkswagen Beetle features

Volkswagen Beetle front

Around back, the Volkswagen Beetle features a bubble-butt much like the Volkswagen Touareg. The rounded, bubbly arches give the car the extra bit of uniqueness. Seeing them in the wing mirrors from inside the cabin gives you the feels.

Volkswagen Beetle rear


Inside, the Sandstorm Yellow theme continues specifically on the dashboard. The old school panel stretches across the whole width of the dash housing an Original Beetle-style glove box. Above the dash are three dials; an oil gauge, turbo boost gauge and a clock/stopwatch.

Volkswagen Beetle glovebox

Volkswagen Beetle gauges

The interior helps the driver to come to the realisation of the sheer size of the car. The interior is spacious and bright, thanks to the optional panoramic sunroof. The Comfort cloth seats come as standard and are flexible so it is easy to get into a comfortable position for long journeys.

Volkswagen Beetle interior

Although, due to the “bubbliness” of the Beetle, the A, B and C pillars are chunky meaning blind spots are a problem. While the retro, gloss Sandstorm Yellow plastic panel on the dash breaks up the interior, it is surrounding by some cheap, scratchy plastics.

Volkswagen Beetle interior

Do the Beetle’s Bubbly Characteristics Translate Well onto the Road? 

The Beetle can be powered by both petrol and diesel engines ranging from 1.2 to 2.0 engines. The test car I had was the 2.0TDI with the 6-speed DSG. Although the Beetle has a sport mode and is equipped in R-Line trim, it is far from sporty. The 6-speed DSG is hesitant to change gears at times making the 150hp unit feel more sluggish than it is. Throw it into a corner and the body roll holds back your giddiness.

Volkswagen Beetle front

But rather than labeling the Beetle as a sports car, categorise it as a GT cruiser and it becomes a whole different car. The Beetle feels comfortable and composed in normal driving mode. While in this mode, the suspension is giving even with the 18-inch wheels specced. The DSG gearbox lacks responsiveness; up and downshifts can be slow. It would benefit from a seventh gear.

Volkswagen Beetle side

All of this aside, the Beetle is all about the image. The retro looks beat that of the rather dated-looking Fiat 500 and is on par with the MINI.

How Practical is the Volkswagen Beetle?

Up front, the Beetle has enough storage in the glovebox, door pockets and space for a phone in the centre console. The beefiness of the Beetle comes with benefit though as it has a 310l boot. This can increase to 905l with the rear seats folded.

Volkswagen Beetle glovebox

Is the Volkswagen Beetle Well Equipped?

As part of R-Line trim, the Beetle comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with parking assist, cruise control and gearshifter buttons on the steering wheel. Options on this test car included the 171 Pack (€1,217). This includes a panoramic tilt and slide sunroof, 18″ Twister alloys, app connect, discover media and a reversing camera. The Discover Media pack adds Apple Car Play and Android Auto along with a reversing camera, which is built into the rear VW badge.

Now for the Numbers

Throughout my week with the Beetle, I averaged 6.7l/100km. This was mainly based off city, suburban and faster country road driving. The Beetle emits 126g/km of CO2 so costs €270 per year to tax.

Volkswagen Beetle rear

Pricing for the Beetle range starts at €25,075. The test car, including options, costed €35,350.

What Else is on Offer?

The Beetle is a strange one. Obvious competition would be the Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper. But based on practicality and size, that rules the 500 out.

Audi TT – The Audi TT has set quite a trend since it was first seen back in the late 1990’s. It has been a successful coupe for the Volkswagen owned brand but the premium status and badge comes at a price. From €44,500 to be exact.

MINI Cooper – The MINI and Fiat are the go-to-cars in this retro segment. Being an R53 Cooper S owner, I can say that MINI do produce a fun car. Although, they have been making some brave moves lately with the introduction of the 5-door Hatch and Countryman, the latter of which I actually quite like. Plenty of choice from the Brits it seems.

Fiat 500 – Has it been done to death at this stage? Yes. But the 500 still wins over buyers in this segment. Much like MINI, the 500 has expanded it’s horizons with variants like the 500L and 500X. But for me, it’s getting old now. How much life is left in the 500?

Would I Buy a Beetle?

The Volkswagen Beetle is a good Summer cruiser. The 6-speed is sufficient for bopping around town or nipping down the coast. There is also no doubting the coolness of the Beetle. Spec it in a far-out colour and you’ll have the best smile factor car around.

Volkswagen Beetle front

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