Retro cars are all the rage these days – just look at the success of the Fiat 500 and BMW Mini – but there was one manufacturer that had put a modern twist on one of its cars from yesteryear long before these two were even drawn up: The Volkswagen Beetle.
One look at it and you can tell instantly it's a Beetle. Its curvaceous roof and wheel arches make it stand out from anything else on the road.
This second generation model sits slightly lower than its predecessor, giving it a more sporty dynamic demeanour. The retro styling from the outside has been carried over to the inside too, with a dashboard that’s slightly higher than in most modern cars, plus the steering wheel and controls are a bit more squared off than you might expect for a modern car. The hark back to bygone times continues with gloss plastics that match the body colour – albeit an optional trim upgrade. But the controls are easy to fathom.
The Beetle is only a four seater, and up front there’s ample space for driver and passenger. In the back though, its a different story – it's quite cramped and the sloping roof line means its not ideal for taller occupants. The boot is a decent size and almost compares to a Golf, but its odd shape means it’s slightly limited.
The Beetle was never designed to be a sporty offering, but over time it’s evolved into a more spirited run about. The range topping 2.0-litre TSI petrol offers hot hatch performance doing the 0-60mph dash in 7.3 seconds. Other petrol offerings include a 1.2 and 1.4 litre engine, both turbocharged. Diesel offerings take the form of either a 1.6 litre with 104bhp or a 2.0 litre with 138bhp.
The best handling version is the range topping TSI thanks to its multi link suspension, the same one used in the Golf GTi. The rest of the range though has a less sophisticated system which means it isn't as composed in the bends. The ride is also a tad firm, and the steering heavier than we’d expect for a car that will spend most of its time in urban life.
But what do some professionals think of it? Watch the video to find out.
April 30, 2015