May 09, 2012
"It's not a girl's car" we keep telling ourselves as we venture out in our new long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo. For 2012, the entire car has been redesigned and this new New Beetle drops the cute in favor of a more classic-looking design that's got some of us thinking Porsche 356 and not Barbie plaything. This new Beetle is longer, wider and more traditionally Beetle-y.
Three minutes into our first drive and we're stopped, first in line, at a four-way cross and all eyes are on our new 2012 Beetle Turbo. "It's not a girl's car. It's not a girl's car...." A young guy with beach-blonde hair, an RVCA shirt, board shorts and slip-on Vans slows to take a look. As he passes he mouths to a buddy, "That's cool. I want one." His buddy nods. He can't have this one, though; it's ours for the next 12 months and 20,000 miles.
What We Got
Volkswagen has two available options for the current Beetle. You can have either a 2.5-liter inline-5 or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The I5 kicks out 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, while the turbo mill manages 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Guess which one we picked?
Opting for the 2.0 Turbo model bumps the price up to $24,165 for the six-speed manual or $24,495 for the six-speed automated-manual DSG unit. We picked the DSG since it's the volume seller on this car. Besides, we know how the six-speed manual feels in this powertrain; it's the same 2.0-liter as in the GTI. The turbo model gets you all of the features that come on the Beetle 2.5L (heated and height-adjustable seats, second glovebox, Bluetooth, iPod interface) and adds 18-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, sport seats with turbo-specific cloth and alloy pedals. Our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo also has the Sunroof and Sound package which adds — wait for it, this is shocking — a sunroof and a Fender Premium audio system with three months of Sirius Satellite Radio. This kicks the price up another $3,000.
We weren't done there, though. The Beetle Turbo comes with a no-cost sport suspension so we added that, too. There's also a first aid kit ($35) and a $235 floor mat kit. We also get a $150 credit for not having the performance gauges. And surprisingly, that's it. VW offers a Sunroof, Sound and Nav package, and we liked the system in our 2011 Jetta, but it wasn't necessary here. There aren't even any fun colors for the Beetle anymore. No bright blue, no yellow or orange, no green. There are only white, dark red, black, silver, gray and dark blue. Mature colors. Boy colors. Grown-up colors.
Including destination, our Deep Black 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo with Sunroof and Sound rang in at $28,385. Volkswagen provided the vehicle for the duration of this test.
Why We Got It
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle got some new skin, sure, but what really sets this Beetle apart from the old one is what's underneath the handsome new exterior. This Beetle rides on the same platform as the current Golf GTI — an enthusiast favorite — and packs the same power, but in a 70-pound-lighter body with a wider track. It may still look like something that should be parked in front of a dollhouse, but the numbers say this car should deliver on the back roads in a way that makes us forget what anyone else thinks.
Over the next 12 months, we'll put 20,000 miles on our new Beetle where we'll no doubt see how the public reacts to this more masculine take on the Beetle, and how it works in the real world. Is it a more interesting GTI or is it still just a cute commuter begging for a flower vase?
Current Odometer: 537
Best Fuel Economy: 19.9
Worst Fuel Economy: 19.9
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 19.9 (One fill)
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.