2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Odd Pedal Action
August 03, 2012
It's odd, our longterm 2012 Volkswagen Beetle's brake pedal. Oh, its outright braking power is plenty fine, it's the way the pedal feels that's unusual. Here's my attempt at characterizing how the pedal feels in routine stopping exercises around town.
There's a very light effort at the top of the stroke where nothing happens. This, while not ideal, is an appropriate relationship -- braking power should be commensurate with effort. No effort, no braking power. Makes sense.
Then, while you continue to press the pedal, effort still unchanged at minimal, you get a bunch of braking power all at once. It's practically a step change. Which, again, would be workable if the effort ramped up to match the response. In the Beetle's case, it doesn't, and its action makes smooth modulations more of a conscious exercise than it need be. It's too easy to over- (or under-) do it.
Furthermore, the brakes gain power at a fixed pedal position. I've noticed this in other VWs, too, like our Jetta TDI. You're scrubbing speed at the desired rate (pedal in one place) and gradually the brakes grow more and more effective, bootstrapping themselves, pushing you into the belts more and more. So to maintain your fixed-g braking, you actually have to back of the pedal somewhat.
Like I said, odd.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor