Overall rating: 3/5
One of the better looking retro-modern cars, the new Beetle is miles ahead of the last re-imagination with sharper looks, a more spacious interior and better engines. Its biggest problem comes in the guise of the car that replaced it at the top of the Volkswagen sales charts. But for those looking for something out of the ordinary the Beetle certainly has its appeal.
In the Metal:
Mercifully Volkswagen resisted the temptation to just fit the Beetle with a Golf interior, and instead came up with a bespoke creation complete with nods towards the past, but devoid of the silly flower holder that most people remember from the second generation car. The somewhat vertical dashboard houses a miniature glove box that harks back to that in the original car, even down to the way in which it opens. It is literally a glove box however with space in it for little more than a pair of mittens, but there is a regular sized storage area below.
Interior space has been put to much better use than before but the Beetle is still strictly a four-seater, with generous leg- and headroom in the rear for passengers. Boot space is up nearly 50 per cent - from 209- to 310 litres (expandable to 905 litres with seats folded) and benefits from a wide opening that allows for easy loading.
Undoubtedly the top sellers in Ireland will be either the 1.2-litre petrol or 1.6-litre diesel, but the 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine fitted to our car made a good case for itself. With 160hp it is an entertaining unit with enough verve to keep the new car's more masculine clientele interested, while fuel consumption of 6.2 litres/100km will not break the bank. The one blot in the copy book is the emissions of 153g/km that lead to Band C road tax. While the €390 is not unreasonable, figures show that unless a car is in the two lowest bands than it is not at the races in this market.
What you get for your Money:
Mid-spec Design cars start from €22,175 and get 16-inch 'Whirl' alloys, comfort front seats, auto wipers and extra gauges for turbo pressure, oil temperature and a stopwatch. Top spec Sport models, like the one tested, are fitted with 17-inch 'Spin' alloys, climate control, tinted windows and sports pedals, all from €26,585.
Our test car was spruced by further with leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, a Fender sound system and some other touches that pushed the price up to €32,084.
The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most successful cars ever with nearly 21 million examples sold. Unsurprisingly the 'Type 1' accounts for the vast majority of sales with the 1998 re-imagination only racking up a million sales. Volkswagen hopes this new car, with its broader appeal, can do better.
Volkswagen's new Beetle is immeasurably better than the car it replaces, with better looks, interior space and engine line-up. While we don't quite buy into the more masculine ethos behind the car it is certainly more asexual. With the Mark 7 Golf starting for less than the Beetle however you really have to want one not to go for the new 'People's Car'.