We all love icons, as they are part of our times. The beetle is such a four wheeled icon. Volkwagen gave it even a new life with the New Beetle, which appealed also to many new drivers who never owned the original one. And now it has coupled this New Beetle, which is in its second generation already, to another iconic era, when flower power and its lifestyle conquered the world. The result is a car which turns heads, and wins your (and our) hearts… Just read on…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
As a proud owner of the first generation New Beetle cabrio, we are of course smitten by its character and appearance. Actually, your servant had an original 1960 Beetle with its legendary 30 HP air cooled boxer engine as his first car. Second hand of course, but it looked very smart with its dark blue exterior and light grey interior, complete with the American style big white steering wheel with heavily chromed claxon ring. A year later, I even had two. For the modest sum of 12 Euros, I acquired a dark green 1957 Beetle with the small “Bretzel” rear window from famous journalist and writer Johan Anthierens, and I drove this one too, as a second car, in winter weather. Later, I sold both cars to my local garage man Julien Mampaey, and you know his life story as BMW tuning specialist and distributor, starting his firm JUMA, which, as you can read it on our site elsewhere.
So we have our own love affair with the Beetle. It is to say, once you own one, you will continue to do so for the rest of your life.
The second generation New Beetle has stolen our heart too. It looks even better than the first series, its roof line and the overall proportions are even better balanced, and are reminiscent of the classic shape of the 356 Porsches.
The interior and above all the dashboard is a bit closer to the original Beetle, having an instrument layout which evokes the original no nonsense approach of the Beetle and also retains the painted dashboard surfaces and dashboard in the bodywork color.
Needless to say, we love it. All the controls have the typical VW group layout and functionality, so one feels well at home in this car. Seats and seating position behind the wheel are excellent, and this Beetle is a true Gran Turismo indeed. It rides on the VW Golf platform, so it has all the excellent qualities of this bestseller.
We just love the way this Beetle rides, how it steers with precision, how refined and vibration free the whole drivetrain is, as engines and transmissions come right out of the VW Golf or rather VW group stable.
Our test car was equipped with the latest generation 1,2 liter petrol engine, which emits a very pleasant growl when pushed a bit but actually remains very quiet throughout.
The 4 cylinder direct injection turbocharged unit develops 105 healthy HP between 4500 and 5500 rpm, coupled with 175 Nm of torque over a very wide rev range between 1400 and 4000 rpm, and all this warrants quite zesty performance. It will sprint from 0 to 100 in a good 11,7 seconds, and it is the delightful gearbox and the smooth clutch which makes a quick getaway an easy affair. The Beetle is therefore delightful to drive in town, and also on winding roads some sporting pleasure is to be had. Also on the fast Autobahnen this Beetle doesn’t feel out of place. It has a top speed of 178 km/h and will cruise at high speeds quite happily all day long.
This Beetle is quite frugal if driven with some anticipation and restraint, basically avoiding high rpms and full throttle accelerations. Consumption between 5 and 6 liter/100 km is easily achievable, with the official average consumption figure being 5,4 liter/100 km and CO2 emissions 125 g/km.
Handling is of course excellent, as it rides on the VW group platform and shares suspension technology with its brethren, as we said before. The New Beetle is sufficiently roomy, will seat four comfortable and offers 225 l luggage volume, which can however be enlarged with the rear seat backrests folding down, even in split manner. You can then stow away rather lengthy items, as the length of the luggage space with seats folded down is a good 1,495 mm.
This Beetle is a magnificent four wheeled icon, which charms you every meter you drive it. Superbly built, with excellent comfort, road manners and inspiring performance, it outclasses its famous predecessors totally, yet retains their original character, which indeed steals our hearts.
It is a present day classic, which truly stands out, and even more so with its Peace and Love color scheme. It turns heads, and by magic brings a broad smile on the face of women, young and old…and even more so when they are lucky enough to be behind the wheel!
Hans Knol ten Bensel