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Volkswagen Beetle Test Drive Review

Volkswagen Beetle - Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car Tested: Volkswagen Beetle 2.0 AT

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 25,51,731/-

It was way back in 1933 when Hitler ordered Dr. Ferdinand Porsche develop a Volkswagen, which quite literally means the ‘peoples car’ in German and immediately work was under way to make a small family car which could accommodate two adults along three children and would  hit a speed of 100 kmph. Soon after this, war broke out and the focus shifted entirely to production of military vehicles. It was finally in 1938 when Volkswagen finally came out with a rear engine, rear wheel drive combination economy car for the civilians and called it the Volkswagen Type I which soon came to be known as the Beetle.

The Volkswagen Beetle came out to be the most manufactured car based on the same design platform. At the 1994 North America International Auto Show, VW unveiled the Concept 1, a retro themed car with a huge resemblance to the VW Beetle. A warm public reaction finally led VW to launch a production version in 1998. Based on the Golf platform, the car was christened as the New Beetle. Over the years the design has undergone minor changes and the company has already announced that the completely new platform Beetle would be unveiled in 2012. We drive the Volkswagen Beetle and feel its journey through the decades to the modern car it is today.

Exteriors – The Beetle is a head turner and if you want to keep a low profile, this is certainly not the car for you. It will attract many eyes and expressions from the crowd. The Volkswagen Beetle. is a retro styled modern car and is similar to the old Beetle in many respects. It carries similar design cues such as separate wings, vestigial running boards, sloping headlamps and large round tail lights along with a high rounded roofline which runs directly from above the rear bumper.

The front carries the engine, unlike the original beetle which had the rear engine configuration. The VW sign sits right in the centre of the bonnet. Large round headlamps enhance the retro styling and side indicators on the external rear view mirrors add to the modern feel. The Volkswagen Beetle is pretty wide but the photographs do not convey it to the fullest. The window as well as the fixed glass slopes with the roofline and defines the car, thereby maintaining the shape of the original Beetle.

The rear houses retro styled stop lamps and a high mounted brake lamp in the centre of the boot. Fuel lid is placed on the right side over the wheel arch and is electromagnetically operated by the flick of a button placed inside the cabin.

Interiors – Well laid out black interiors of which plastic quality, fit and finish deserve a special mention. The centre of the dash accommodates the music system.

Sound quality is above average but at high volumes the sound tends to crack up. The brochure says that Aux support is provided but honestly we could not locate it. A 6 CD changer can be of some use though and is neatly stowed under the centre armrest. Audio controls on the steering wheel absent, not expected to be absent in a car of this price range.

No climate control for the Beetle. Ac is strong and effective. Notice the ESP switch just below, it can be turned off for some fun but the ESP automatically comes on, once it senses the car is going sideways.

Rear seats offer good thigh and back support but fall short on legroom. Technically the Beetle is desgined to accomodate kids in the backseat and for that, it does well. The front seats have adequate legroom and are comfortable. Drivers side seat is equipped with height adjuster.

Just above the mirror are two small digital displays which show the time and temperature.

Night light provided in the glove compartment for ease at night.

Both doors have red lamps to indicate when the doors are open at night (for safety sake). Power window switches are rather awkwardly placed as seen in the picture.

Instrument cluster shows all the important data.

A small but usable boot. More space inside than what appears from outside.

Ride, Handling and Braking – The Beetle rides on 195/65/15 Pirelli tyres which grip well and ABS along with ESP make sure you are safe. Braking is great and the car stops in one line without getting sideways. All 4 disc brakes may be a contributing factor to the excellent braking characteristics of the car. Handling is not the best but the Beetle does more than average. It is not meant to be driven like a sports car and sharp changes in direction are taken well but there is a hint of understeer more often than once. The suspension soaks up most of the bumps making it quite comfortable inside. Ground clearance of only 120 mm is less and the Beetle tends to scrape its underside over tall speedbreakers.

Performance – Powered by a 1984 cc, 8 valve, SOHC petrol engine, the Beetle delivers 116 PS @ 5400 Rpm and a torque of 172 Nm @ 3200 Rpm. The engine may not be the latest but it shows superior refinement. The same engine used to once power the Skoda Octavia 2.0 ltr petrol (Skoda is a part of VW group and they share many common platforms with VW). The 6 speed tiptronic gearbox is smooth and like most automatic transmissions, there is provision to shift manually if need be. On a 0 – 100 run, the Beetle stops the clock in about 14.5 seconds and hits a top speed of 160 kmph. The 2.0 ltr petrol engine is not really mileage friendly and delivers about 10 – 11 kmpl on an average city + highway run, drive full out and 7 – 8 kmpl is all you are going to get.

Conclusion – The Beetle is one of the ‘Cutest’ cars around and is just as curvy as the commercial suggests and attracts a lot of female buyers. It’s looks are bound to get you noticed wherever you go and it performs as per expectations too. The only thing which goes against the Beetle is its pricing, which is a bit too steep considering that the Fiat 500 is available for much less but overall its the heart that rules, and the Beetle sure wins many.

Whats Cool

* Stunning looks
* Ride & handling
* Overall quality

Whats Not So Cool

* No Audio controls on steering wheel
* Pricing
* Mileage

Volkswagen Beetle Specifications : –

* Engine: 1984cc, 4 cylinder Petrol engine
* Power: 116PS @ 5400rpm
* Torque: 172Nm @ 3200rpm
* Transmission: 6 speed automatic tiptronic
* Top Speed: 162kmph
* 0-100kmph: 14.50 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 8.5 kmpl (City), 11 kmpl (highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Tires: 195/65/15 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: All 4 Discs, ABS, ESP, EBD
* Safety: ABS, EBD, Dual SRS Front Airbags, Immobilizer

Volkswagen Beetle Dimensions : –

* Overall length x width x height: 4129mm X 1721mm X 1498mm
* Wheelbase: 2,502mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1515/1495 mm
* Ground clearance: 120mm
* Turning Radius – 5.5m
* Boot Volume: 214 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres

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