2012 Volkswagen Beetle First Drive Page 4

July 14, 2011

Driving Impressions

Sitting inside the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, the first thing you notice is simply how roomy it feels. Head and shoulder room is generous, as is legroom. That is, if you’re sitting up front. Two bucket seats are fitted in the rear but a lack of legroom means they are best only for children.

The other thing you notice is that the cutesy look has gone, with Volkswagen now going for a more sophisticated look and feel, with much higher quality than on the previous model. The Beetle Turbo also gets an Audi-like flat bottomed steering wheel with leather trim, which felt great.

We didn’t get to drive the standard manual but the dual clutch DSG is a great shifting gearbox with manual mode that even blips the throttle when you shift gears to ensure revs are matched properly. The gearbox is so fast and smooth that shifting up and down the gears can get very addictive.

Power delivery is decent, though there is some lag until the tacho hits the 2,500 rev mark. From here performance is reasonable though it won’t match the pace of the GTI or most sports cars. Acceleration in the higher gears is strong thanks to the turbo, with high speed passing no issue on the autobahns around Berlin.

When it comes to handling, it’s obvious that the Beetle has been tuned more for comfort than performance. The steering is very light, which is good around town but on twisty roads could do with a lot more feedback.

There’s plenty of grip from the 235 mm rubber on all four tires but tall sidewalls and medium-set suspension means the car certainly leans into corners. Understeer also likes to rear its ugly head when going fast into a corner, with the steering wheel needing plenty of adjustment, but even after a few short hours with the car it’s easy to predict the handling and always remain on track.

There’s some noticeable wind noise at highway speeds, most likely due to the boxier roof design and tall side mirrors. However, with the radio on this is hardly an issue,

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