Volkswagen Beetle

Design 1.4

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

ITis one of the most famous profiles on the road and proves familiarity breeds contentment with the Volkswagen Beetle.

The model which originally relaunched the car maker after the Second World War is now fighting for sales among far less distinctive rivals, and it is all the better for it.

The Beetle range is extensive, based on the stablemate Golf chassis, running to nearly 30 models with a choice of three petrol engines; a 105ps 1.2, 150ps 1.4 or 220ps 2.0, and 110ps 2.0 diesel.

Depending on engine they have a five or six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed sequential automatic transmission which can be driven as a manual if desired.

The Beetle is unusual in being available as a hatchback or cabriolet. This year it also gets a higher riding and specially trimmed Dune version.

The 150ps 1.4 turbo-petrol driven here is available with manual gearbox and Design is the most popular trim sold in Britain.

With a sound pedigree behind it and a good powertrain beneath, the Beetle Design goes well if not rapidly but economically, and there is potential for more savings with a light right foot.

The 1.4 litreengine is strong, smooth and flexible making light work of urban and motorway driving and easy changes areseamless and sophisticated.

Match that with a well-weighted and tight turning steering for good manoeuvring as well as delightfully balanced brakes underfoot and you have a car to please both mamas and papas.

Secondary controls come immediately to hand on the wheel spokes or facia and the dials are big and clear if not marked in detail.

I liked the straightforward heating and ventilation which worked well and effectively and the oddments room is good though not exceptional.

You have a fairly small boot at 310 litres, so most bigger things will end up going on the back seat. For occupants the room is tight in the back but roomy upfront while headroom is good throughout.

Noise levels are mostly modest, the engine making itself heard under load while the tyre noise can become intrusive over bad surfaces.

When it comes to ride, the Beetle does a good job of soaking up the worst bumps and not alarmingly rolling around bends or wallowing over undulations.

You may think it's too softly sprung but in reality it tends to hold on well, turn with confidence and has no real vices to concern drivers or passengers. It's Golf underpinnings are evident.

The acceleration from rest is not remarkable but respectable, it cruises along motorways and it can easily return over 40mpg without trying to be economical.

Visibility is good to front and sides, more restricted to the rear when reversing or traffic is overtaking but the air conditioning, good wipers and lights do a good job in bad weather.

FAST FACTS

Volkswagen Beetle Design 1.4

Price: £20,940

Mechanical: 150ps, 1,398cc, 4cyl petrol engine drivig front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 126mph

0-62mph: 8.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 38

Insurance Group: 18

C02 emissions: 134g/km

Bik rating: 23%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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