2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Voice Commands Only
March 8, 2013
As Scott said recently, Bluetooth pairing is a piece of cake in our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle.
One thing Scott didn't mention, though, is that in our version of the car (which has the RCD 510, Premium 8 radio, without navigation), you have to handle all phone call operations via voice commands. That's assuming you're not looking down at your smartphone, which you shouldn't do if you're driving. The voice-command control shown in the picture above is on the left side of the multi-function steering wheel.
I found the system to be less than intuitive to use, and a lot less user-friendly than being able to see and select contacts displayed on Volkswagen's very nice touchscreen.
Was there really no way to display any information from my phone?
The Beetle's manuals were not particularly helpful on answering this question. They are catch-all books for multiple configurations, and you have to figure out which scenario applies to your car. VW's online assistance wasn't much better. Most of the information was based on the assumption that the car was equipped with the RNS-315 radio/nav system.
On the other hand, a big shout out to Jovan at Volkswagen customer service. He listened to my questions and went off to research the issue, just to make sure I wasn't missing some magical submenu. He called me back to report that with this radio option, voice commands are indeed the only thing you get to drive your phone from the car.
If I were buying a Beetle, I'd spring for the nav system, which gets you the hard phone-button setup shown here. The screen will display phonebook entries and other useful stuff. For me, touch is way easier than voice commands for calling.
Some DIY-oriented buyers of the 2012 Turbo Beetle apparently have retrofitted their cars with the system.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @ 15,302 miles