Beetle fun but

flawed

Volkswagen Beetle, rear
Volkswagen Beetle, side
Volkswagen Beetle, front
Volkswagen Beetle, interior

THE first modern VW Beetle is based on the Golf, with front wheel drive and the same levels of excellent finish and reliability.

But for us in Europe, it has some failings despite its undoubted retro appeal.

It was designed in California, where they don't have much rain, and when it's wet, water pours onto the back seat when you open the hatch and drips onto the front seats when you open the doors.

It's not very practical compared to the Golf, with a tiny boot and minimal rear legroom but despite all that, it drives brilliantly, even if it's expensive for what is a small car.

Beware of inflated second-hand prices. They do hold their value well, but some prices are plainly ridiculous.

A wide range of engines includes 75bhp 1.4, 100bhp 1.6, 150bhp 1.8 turbo petrol and 2.0-litre with 115bhp. The odd but good V5 2.3 petrol was also fitted for a time and the turbo diesel options is a 1.9 with 100bhp.

Base 1.4 and 1.6 models are very sparsely equipped, while most others have a reasonable range of kit including alloys.

The soft top is much more fun but will cost £2,000 more and all have stability control and six airbags. 1.6 performance is plenty for most people.

FAST FACTS

Price: Pay about £5,500 for an '08 08-reg Luna hatch, or £9,900 for a '10 10-reg Luna Convertible

Mechanical: 100bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 111mph

0-62mph: 11.2 seconds

Combined MPG: 37

Insurance Group: 11

C02 emissions: 185g/km

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