New Wheels - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long-Term Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long Term Road Test

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: New Wheels

October 29, 2012


Scott wasn't a big fan of the so-called "Twister" 18-inch wheels that came on our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo. A few others in the office have been luke warm on them, too.

They're supposed to resemble the Porsche 914 5-lug wheel conversion that was popular back in the day on early Beetles, but with their extra long spokes and flat profile you have to squint real hard to see them that way.

So we asked VW if we could try out a set of the 18-inch "Disc" wheels shown above, which have a more obvious -- by still stylized -- vintage look. That old-school chrome disc is in reality an oversized plastic center cap that snaps onto 8-spoke alloy wheels. The wheels come on the Beetle 2.5SL, but only when you get the loaded version with the "Sunroof, Sound and Navigation" package.

We didn't want to go all the way to the more accurate vintage look of the "Heritage" wheels, though, because our plan was to swap the Turbo's P235/45R18 tires straight across onto the new wheels, and the Heritage wheels measure just 17-inches in diameter.  

When the wheels arrived, however, we discovered they came with new TPMS sensors and tires already mounted and balanced. This is going to be a very simple swap indeed.

The new rubber is the same size (P235/45R18), has the same load & speed rating (94H) and is still rated for all-season duty. But these wheels came with Continental ContiProContact all-season tires instead of the Hankook Optimo H426 tires we had before. Apparently this is a second OE fitment in the same size, a common practice employed by carmakers to guard against natural disasters or strikes at tire supplier plants. 



The Twister/Hankook combination weighs 52.0 pounds...



...and the Disc/Continental pairing weighs 50.2 pounds, almost 2 pounds less per assembly.

It goes without saying that we'll be retesting this combination at the track in the coming weeks to see if there's much difference. But the result is secondary because this was never about performance. It was about cosmetics, a desire to change up the look of our Beetle Turbo with other OE parts.

So, as my optometrist is fond of asking, do you prefer this...



...or this?



Either way, the latter is what Erin is rolling on during her trip to New Mexico. You don't have to make up your mind just yet because we'll be seeing more photos of these wheels on the open road in the coming days.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 6,766 miles 

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