Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that the Volkswagen Beetle will always be a fun car.
The new model is a huge improvement on the previous one. Longer, wider and lower, it has a much more masculine appearance but retains its loveable, fun-loving character.
The newer car has remained true to its Beetle roots, although I was sad to see there is no longer a vase on the dashboard. It seems, however, I am very much in the minority with my disappointment.
There is a choice of five engines – three petrol and two diesels.
Three trim levels are available – Beetle, Design and Sport – each with its own individual features.
A wide range of optional equipment is also on offer, ranging from Keyless Access through satellite navigation systems and a panoramic sunroof to bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights – all of which are available for the first time on a Beetle.
Another new option is the Fender sound pack. Developed in conjunction with the legendary electric guitar firm of the same name, this audiophile’s delight offers a 400W output and a subwoofer, along with switchable three-colour illumination surrounding the front loudspeakers.
All models have standard Climatic semi-automatic climate control, allowing passengers to select a desired cabin temperature which is then maintained automatically, whatever the outside temperature.
The boot capacity is a practical 310 litres, and inside was more spacious than I expected.
It has also been designed to be one of the safest cars in terms of both active and passive safety.
ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) is standard, as is an effective network of front and side airbags that protects in the passenger compartment.
The car body, much of it laser-welded and galvanised, exhibits one of the best torsional rigidity values in the segment at 26,000 Nm/º. There is also ‘WOKS’ (Whiplash Optimised Head Restraint System) to counteract whiplash injuries by co-ordinating the movements of the head and upper body as synchronously as possible via the seat backs and head restraints.
On the road, new suspension contributes to a more dynamic driving performance. A very lightweight strut-type set-up at the front is completed by semi-independent rear suspen-sion.
You can’t fault its ride or handling either, and although it is a little on the pricey side its good points certainly outweigh the bad. Overall, it’s a great retro runaround.
Car: Volkswagen Beetle 1.4
On the road: £19,475
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 129mph
Fuel: 42.8mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 153g/km