2012 VW Beetle: Interesting Looking GTI?
May 11, 2012
The new VW Beetle Turbo is based on the Golf platform, it shares the GTI's turbocharged engine and available DSG transmission. Logically, one could assume that the Beetle Turbo is essentially a GTI in a more interesting-looking package. That certainly sounds appealing to me.
However, that's just not reality.
Yes, the powertrain is the same and even though I'm not a fan of DSG (I'll stick with the manual thanks), the Beetle Turbo at least feels similar to the GTI in a straight line. Actually, according to our numbers, the Beetle might actually be a bit quicker.
But the steering is far more Jetta than GTI, with that numb spot on center that transitions into an elastic feel as you turn in. This significantly contributes to the Beetle feeling less sporting whether you're simply puttering along to work or actually trying to drive with some vigor. That eager nature of the GTI just isn't present with Der Beetle; that little shot of automotive caffeine that makes even the most mundane commute just a little exciting. Track numbers on a short-term Beetle showed a huge difference between the two cars as well.
So, the Beetle Turbo isn't a more interesting-looking GTI. It's just a quicker Beetle. Maybe that's OK, but I'm a little disappointed.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 843 miles