Volkswagen Beetle

Design 1.2 DSG

Volkswagen Beetle, interior
Volkswagen Beetle, rear
Volkswagen Beetle, side
Volkswagen Beetle Design

RECREATING automotive icons of the past has proved popular in recent times.

The success of the modern MINI has been unparalleled and the reinvented Fiat 500 wowed buyers worldwide too.

Not surprisingly the Volkswagen Beetle was also reborn (it was actually the first reinterpreted retro model to break cover) and between 1998 and 2010 more than a million of them were sold.

Yet somehow this new take on perhaps one of the most iconic cars ever made never quite hit the mark in the way the MINI and the little Fiat did.

Those modern versions of classics took some of the simple style and DNA of the originals but gave them a modern twist that was both appealing and compelling.

The new Beetle just didn't seem to have the same ‘je ne sais quoi' that the original had by the bucket load.

From a design perspective was just a little too basic and simplistic, almost as if it had been designed in something of a hurry.

But the second incarnation is a different beast altogether.

For starters it has much more of the spirit of the ‘people's car' and bears a much stronger resemblance to it too.

This time Volkswagen really have pulled it off.

Like BMW and Fiat's reinterpretations it crucially captures something of the character of the original, whilst also bringing something modern to the table.

The simple instrumentation of the interior - the colour coded panels, a retro-style glovebox and the high dashboard - all help to recreate a flavour of the original.

The high dashboard does mean the driving position feels slightly odd but it's something you get used to.

This car is also bigger than the version it replaces, meaning it's far more comfortable and practical overall.

Its hatchback styling ensures it has a decent sized boot (310 litres) and you can further boost its versatility by folding the seats down in a 50/50 split. A slight downside is the rear bench only holds two people and its roofline means there's far from an abundance of headroom.

The latest Beetle is based on the Mk 6 Golf, meaning it feels stiff and sturdy and drives well.

Here too it is a significant step up from its predecessor offering a far more engaging and rewarding drive and impressive handling.

The ride is on the firm side, though not unpleasantly so.

There's a decent choice of engines and the 1.2-litre TSI unit fitted to this car is a more than capable performer, even if it is the entry level option. Alternatives include a 1.4-litre TSI, a 2.0-litre TSI and 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesels.

There are three trim levels available - Beetle, Design and Sport.

One of the simple but elegant upgrades the Design has over the basic Beetle is a set of chrome effect Orbit wheels.

Those fitted to this car were veritable works of art in their own right and more than any other design touch helped to recreate the spirit of the original, with inspired styling that's the perfect fusion of the old and the new.

One of the current Beetle's claims to fame is that it is one of the safest modern cars on the road.

It boasts a laser-welded and galvanised body structure which has one of the highest torsional rigidity values in its segment. On top of that additional safety aids include electronic stability control, six airbags and anti-whiplash head restraints on the front seats.

Overall this latest Beetle is a refreshing entrant to the market and a worthy successor to the car that set the ball rolling back in 1938.

It combines retro classic elements with the best of the modern world - and unlike its predecessor should also appeal to male as well as female buyers.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Beetle Design 1.2 DSG

Price: £19,370

Mechanical: 105bhp, 1,197cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 10.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 47.9

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 137g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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