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The Top Gear car review: Volkswagen Beetle
For:Looks, handling, good range of engines, much improved over the last one
Against:It's less practical than a Golf - as if you care a jot about that
1.2 TSI Design 3dr
What we say:
The new Beetle is a vast improvement on its predecessor and sportier, too. We like it
What is it?
This car is a vast improvement on its predecessor. Basing it on the current Golf platform is a good start. It’s not as practical as a regular hatch, but much more fun to own and be seen in.
The steering is more precise and, because of the wider track, there is an impressive amount of grip. But don’t go thinking you’ll be getting a cute Golf GTI - the Beetle doesn’t have quite the precision of the Golf. It’s just not as crisp.
On normal suspension and 18-inch wheels it picked up far too many surface imperfections. You can’t get the Beetle with the Golf’s clever adaptive damping - well, we can’t have the Beetle outperforming the halo GTI, can we?
You’ll be able to get it with the 2.0-litre TFSI engine out of the Golf GTI, only in the Beetle it produces a slightly lower output of 197bhp and 206lb ft. Other engines will be available, from the brilliant 1.2 TSI to a 1.6 diesel with Bluemotion tech. We only got a chance to try the top 2.0-litre, but reassuringly it’s still as smooth as ever. There’s plenty of punch in all the gears so 0-62mph only takes 7.5secs.
On the inside
Inside, there’s a nod to retro - the weird glovebox, the body-coloured dash plastic, the pulley grab handles - but mostly it’s stock VW parts bin switches. Weirdly, though, some of the plastics feel cheap and that glovebox is especially poor. Flimsy stuff, and not what you expect from Volkswagen.
The Beetle isn’t practical, because the sloping tail cuts out rear seats and boot space. But at least the rear seats fold. And the cabrio doesn’t lose boot space when the roof folds, because it just sits on top like a rucksack.
It’s available with a 1.4-litre TSI and a 2.0-litre diesel and petrol - that diesel returns 57.6mpg and emits just 129g/km of CO2.