By on 2021-01-15 -
Volkswagen Beetle -
Used Car Review
ANYONE who wants the excellent capabilities of the Volkswagen Golf in a funkier and more stylish shape need look no further than the last series Beetle.
There is even a soft-top cabriolet to add to the summer fun with wind-in-the-hair motoring at the couch of a button.
Both models went out of production in 2018 despite selling well in many countries around the world, which I thought was rather odd at the time.
The company has said it may produce a new version of the car in the future, with an electric drivetrain.
So what does the Beetle give you that the Golf doesn't? Well it certainly has retro appeal, with a shape that goes back to 1939 in the original VolksWagen - or people's car.
Its comfortable, comes with excellent reliability and build quality and it has good to excellent performance with very good handling.
However, it's nowhere near as practical as the Golf, and although the ride in lower order models is good, this is spoilt in those fitted with sports suspension, which seems to be most of the higher powered versions.
It shares many parts with the Golf and improved on the Mk1 with a higher level of standard equipment, better engines and improved practicality.
The boot, for example, is a massive 44 per cent bigger, and space for rear seat passengers is vastly improved.
Engines range up from a 1.2 TSI turbo petrol with 105bhp, to a 1.4 turbo with 125 or 150, and a 2.0-litre with 197 and up to 220
Diesels are the well-known 1.6 TDI with 105bhp and the 2.0-litre with up to 150. The 1.6TDI is the economy champion, managing an average of 66 miles per gallon, while the 1.2 and 1.4 petrol models are both rated at around 50.
All are reasonably quick with acceleration to 60 taking 10.5 seconds even in the lowest powered 1.2 TSi petrol and 1.6 TDi diesel.
The 150bhp 1.4 brings this down to 8.4 seconds and the 210bhp 2 litre takes just 7.1. Quickest diesel is the 2.0TDI with 150bhp, and that covers the sprint in 8.6.
Gearboxes are the standard and very good VW 6 speed manual, or the excellent but very expensive dual clutch DSG auto.
I have sadly been hearing of some major problems with these DSGs in VW, SEAT and Skoda models, where owners have had to fight for replacement or repair costs at low mileages..
The suspension was completely revised for this Beetle Mk11, and turned what was quite a basic handler into a something much more enjoyable.
There's plenty of grip even when pressed hard, and the balance is as good as that in the Golf. The excellent VW group steering is precise and full of feedback.
Avoid any with large alloys and sports suspension. These ruin the good ride.
The 1.4 and 2.0-litre TSI versions are fitted with VW's electronic differential lock, which improves cornering and traction by preventing wheelspin.
Small details add interest and make the cabin stand out from the ordinary, like a unique dash with two glove boxes, elasticated door pockets and drop-down grab handles for those in the rear.
The seats are comfortable with good adjustment for all sizes, and the steering wheel adjusts for tilt and reach.
Pay about Â£10,750 for a '15 15-reg entry 1.2 TSI, or Â£13,500 for a '17 17-reg 2.0 TDI Bluemotion. Cabriolets cost about Â£2,000 more.
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