2012 Volkswagen Beetle First Drive Page 3

July 14, 2011


One of the biggest differences between this new Beetle and the one it replaces is the level of technology. Underneath the cute sheet metal is a shortened Jetta platform complete with a strut-type suspension with a lower control arm and anti-roll bar up front and the basic torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs and telescopic dampers.

The Beetle Turbo, however, gets the more advanced multi-link independent rear suspension, with coil springs, telescopic dampers and another anti-roll bar. The Beetle Turbo also gets a slightly better brake package, with 12.3-inch vented discs and red calipers on the front axle and 10-7-inch discs at the rear.

One of the stars of the show is the XDS electronic differential that really helps with the handling of the Beetle Turbo model by maximizing traction under power. The XDS electronic transverse differential lock is an extension of the electronic limited-slip differential integrated in the stability system.

In fast cornering, as soon as the car’s electronics detects that the wheel at the inside of the curve on the front axle is starting to slip, the stability system hydraulics build up braking pressure at this wheel to restore traction. In essence, XDS acts as a type of transverse differential lock that compensates for the understeer that is typical on front-wheel drive vehicles when driving fast through corners by sending more torque to the wheel that needs it most.

Power in the Beetle Turbo comes from the responsive turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine found in the potent Golf GTI. Peak output remains at 197 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, which means this is essentially a coupe version of the Golf GTI--though suspension and steering has been tuned more for comfort in the Beetle rather than outright performance and this shows in the driving performance.

A six-speed manual comes as standard on the Beetle Turbo though we got to test the sweet six-speed dual clutch DSG.

Lucky U.S. customers get a premium Fender audio system. The setup relies on Fender’s experience with amplification while featuring a proprietary Panasonic speaker system that includes a massive subwoofer in the trunk and 400-watt output. The sound is fantastic and is well worth it. 

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