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Volkswagen Beetle Review

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  • Launched in 2012
  • Family hatch
  • Petrol, Diesel
  • Launch year
    2012
  • Body type
    Family hatch
  • Fuel type
    Petrol, Diesel

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heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
Iconic Beetle looks, Golf mechanicals

Best bits

  •  A charming, happy car
  • Decent range of engines 
  • Impractical compared to that Golf, but not against a Fiat 500 or Mini

Not so great

  • The Beetle would have made the perfect EV or hybrid, Volkswagen didn’t make it as one though
  • It’s really just a Golf in a retro frock
  • Just two rear seats and a relatively small boot, too

Read by

Volkswagen Beetle Front Side View

Overall verdict

Volkswagen Beetle Driver's Seat

On the inside

Volkswagen Beetle Front View

Driving

Volkswagen Beetle Left Side View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Beetle Rear Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict on the Volkswagen Beetle

"A happy car, that might not have sold in significant numbers, but the Golf was there to do that. That it’s no longer on sale makes us sad, as the Beetle was a ray of joy in a sometimes far too serious world. Easily dismissed as cutesy and pointless, the Beetle’s humour and charm is a sizeable part of its appeal, and if you ‘get’ it, then you’ll not need us to convince you either way."

Volkswagen Beetle Front Side View

Back in the late 1990s someone at Volkswagen was having pangs of nostalgia, and the Concept One was born, it showing the world how a new Beetle could look. It was put into production, that first ‘New Beetle’ arriving for the 1998 model year and staying in showrooms until Volkswagen replaced it with this model in 2012.


Like its predecessor, the new, new Beetle, dubbed the A5 by some, is based on its contemporary Golf relation, sharing much of its chassis and mechanical components, though topping them with a retro-looking body that shares its iconic shape with Volkswagen’s original people’s car. 


That shape might ape its multi-million selling predecessors, but with it comes some compromises, its hatchback body only offering two doors, and room in the back (and boot) is pretty tight. 


That does limit its appeal to those buyers sold entirely on how it looks, which is a small marketplace. The Beetle was a heart-over-head purchase, then, because if practicality is what you’re after then that Golf will serve you better, while if you like nostalgic styling in a fun to drive package then you’d be better off in a Mini. 


For all that the Beetle has masses of charm, and while some might consider things like the dash-mounted flower badge as twee, it’s a hard-hearted individual who can’t look at a Beetle and find cause to raise a smile. That’s true inside, which, like the exterior, is a modern interpretation of the classic Beetle. 


There are clear instruments housed in a cool body-coloured dash panel, a pair of gloveboxes and limited room in the back, the rear only seating two, with a retro nod, large glasshouse and a genuine sense of happiness that’s undeniably appealing. 


All that wasn’t enough to convince Volkswagen to replace it, and in 2019 Volkswagen finally crushed the Beetle, announcing production of it would end, the Beetle badge now consigned to history. For the first time in Volkswagen’s history it’s no longer possible to buy a brand new Beetle (unless you find an unregistered example languishing somewhere in a dealer’s stock) and while most people won’t miss it, we can’t help but lament the passing of Volkswagen’s most iconic model. 


If you're looking for the convertible version, you need our Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet review.

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1.4 TSI Design 2dr

  • 2014
  • 37,113 miles
  • Harratts Used Car Centre Wakefield
  • Yorkshire, WF43BB
Price:£14,790
HP: £400.41/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 36 Monthly Payments: £400.41, Customer Deposit: £2,218.00, Total Deposit: £2,218.50, Total Charge For Credit: £1,843.26, Total Amount Payable: £16,633.26, Representative APR: 9.5%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 9.06%

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Volkswagen Beetle

1.2 TSI Dune 3dr

  • 2017
  • 13,577 miles

Manufacturer Approved

  • JCT600 Volkswagen Wakefield
  • Yorkshire, WF29BE
Price:£21,890
PCP: £448.42/mo

Representative example: Contract Length: 36 months, 35 Monthly Payments: £448.42, Customer Deposit: £3,283.00, Total Deposit: £3,283.50, Optional Final Payment: £6,557.50, Total Charge For Credit: £3,645.70, Total Amount Payable: £25,535.70, Representative APR: 9.9%, Interest Rate (Fixed): 9.87%, Excess Mileage Charge: 6ppm, Mileage Per Annum: 10,000

Is the Volkswagen Beetle right for you?

If ever there were a car that defined the clichéd expression of being a Marmite choice then the Volkswagen Beetle is it. While the original, rear-engined air-cooled Beetle was the inexpensive tool of necessity for mobilising millions, the 2012-2019 Beetle is something bought by people wanting something that looked different and was fun, even if its shape was, by virtue of its retro styling, entirely familiar. 


It’s the automotive equivalent of a SMEG fridge, looking old, but using current mechanicals, though being compromised as a result of its retro looks. 


You’ll either be sold on the idea of one, or not, but for all the talk of compromise here, it’s not so unutterably hopeless to not work as a daily driving family car, so if you like those curvaceous lines and the undeniable happy demeanour that they bring, and like to name your car, then read on.

What’s the best Volkswagen Beetle model/engine to choose?

Powered by much the same choice of engines as the Golf, the Beetle can be had with anything from a 105PS 1.2-litre petrol, to a 2.0-litre petrol with over double that output borrowed from the GTI. The Beetle’s not tearaway though, it at its best when it’s unhurried, which means the smaller, less powerful engines are just fine. 


If you’re doing mostly city driving then that 105PS 1.2 will do fine, though if you’re likely to doing lots of motorway mile commutes, then the leggy ease and economy of the turbodiesels make more sense. There’s the choice of a Convertible or the hatchback, too, the Convertible losing some of the practicality of the hatchback to accommodate its folding fabric roof. As to trim, Design is the one that comes with the body coloured dash as standard, so that’s what we’d recommend. 

What other cars are similar to the Volkswagen Beetle?

Similar, as in being heavily retro-nodding takes in a disparate group of alternatives, including the MINI Hatch, Fiat 500 and even something like the Citroen DS3. It’s impossible not to mention the Volkswagen Golf, as underneath the Beetle’s curvaceous body it’s essentially a Golf, even if it doesn’t look like one. The Cabriolet takes that wide reach even further, it entirely possible that a buyer might look at any of those models above in open-topped guise, but also something like an Mazda MX-5, too. 

Learn more

Volkswagen Beetle Driver's Seat

On the inside

Volkswagen Beetle Front View

Driving

Volkswagen Beetle Left Side View

How much does it cost to run

Volkswagen Beetle Rear Side View

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Why did they stop making the VW Beetle?

The main reason Volkswagen took the Beetle off sale was that it shared its chassis platform and engines with the Golf Mk 5. This ageing design meant it was well behind current emissions targets, and sales weren’t strong enough to justify the expense of renewing the car. Volkswagen may revive the Beetle in the future as an electric only model, but this hasn’t been confirmed.

Russell Campbell

Answered by

Russell Campbell

How many different body styles of Beetle are there?

Just two. The three-door ‘fastback’ hatch, and the more expensive convertible, which just like on the original Beetle, had a folding fabric roof which stowed behind the rear seats.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

What is the Beetle Dune?

The Dune was a tougher looking version with off-road styling inspired by the desert racing exploits of the original ‘Baja Bugs’. What that meant was a 10mm raised suspension, wider track and more equipment than standard, plus some unique styling cues. However, like the rest of the Beetle range, it was front-wheel drive only, so its capability was rather limited.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

Is the Beetle a good used car?

The Beetle used a proven range of engines and components from the Golf, and it has only had a few recalls in its lifetime, mostly for minor issues. If you find a relatively low mileage petrol version in a mid-tier Design trim for sale you’ll be in good hands.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

Can I get the Beetle with an automatic gearbox?

Yes. In fact there are four different transmissions. Entry-level diesels come with a five-speed manual (most other variants feature a six-speed ‘box) but the 1.2-litre petrol has an optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and the most powerful cars get an older six-speed auto.

heycar editorial team

Answered by

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