2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long-Term Road Test - Performance

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Split Shifts

April 8, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

I'm conflicted about driving cars in Sport mode for two reasons. First, holding the shift to a higher RPM and downshifting sooner isn't great for fuel economy. And with premium gas as the fuel of choice in this Beetle, it gets pricey.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Not Underpowered

April 4, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Back in the day, I owned three V-dubs: '65 and '70 bugs and a '68 microbus. I liked them all except for one thing. With an air-cooled, 50-horsepower engine in my '65 bug, it was the ultimate "couldn't get out of its own way" car. I had to drive it with my foot on the floor. And even that wasn't enough. To make matters worse, I lived in Denver at the time where the thin air robbed the engine of oxygen.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: 2.0 TSI Engine Makes Them Great

March 27, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Earlier this week, my spouse and I drove different cars to the same destination resulting in the scene above. The GTI is his, while I had our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle for the night. The lighting was poor obviously, but when the cars are side by side like this, the Beetle's extra width is striking. It's 1.2 inches wider overall with a 1.4-inch wider rear track, and it looks it.

I enjoyed what our modern Bug had to offer when I drove it to Albuquerque and back last year, but forced to choose, I'd end up with the GTI. Its bigger backseat and plaid upholstery tip the scales in its favor.

Yet, the thing that I enjoy most about both cars, and the one thing that makes them really great for me, is the 2.0 TSI engine they share.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: I want TDI, not TSI

March 12, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Variety is one of the better aspects of the current generation Volkswagen Beetle. You can order it as a coupe or convertible. Next you have the choice of three engines: a 2.5-liter five-cylinder, a 2.0-liter Turbo like our long-term car, and a 2.0-liter Turbo Diesel. If it were my money, I'd choose the Beetle TDI. Here's why.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: DSG Or Manual, Reconsidered

February 28, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Back in June of last year I wrote a post about whether I'd pick the six-speed manual transmission or six-speed automated manual (VW's "DSG") if I were buying a Beetle. In the end, I concluded I'd get the manual.

Having spent more time with our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo recently, I can tell you that the DSG's quirks (laggardly responses from a stop and uneven engine braking when slowing) are still there and are still annoying. Actually, they get on my nerves the more I drive. So, still thumbs up for the manual, right?

Well, sort of.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Top Five Qualities

February 20, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

I've spent a fair amount of time with our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo. I drove it for about two weeks in June of last year and then another extended duration this month. This seat time has allowed me to come up with what I think are our car's top five qualities.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Stomp and Go

February 11, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

I really love the get up and go of our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. I know I'm not being environmentally sensitive when I say this, but one of my favorite things to do is stomp on the accelerator as soon as the light turns green at a stoplight and I'm at the line. It's got turbo, it's got torque. Wheeeee!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Central Coast Road Trip

January 2, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

I've been meaning to drive our long-term Volkswagen Beetle Turbo on a road trip for quite a while. Though I'm not particularly a fan of it around town due to the steering, stiff-legged ride and delayed powertrain responses, I also know that Volkswagens usually come into their own on longer journeys.

With such a longer journey on the docket for the New Years long weekend, I finally got my chance. Very much mimicking our trip in the Mustang last year, Senora Riswick and I would take the 101 up the coast to Atascadero and Paso Robles for a little scenery, a little food and some post-drive wine tasting. Unlike last year, though, we would be detouring over to the Pacific Coast Highway for a visit to Hearst Castle.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Midrange Sauce

December 28, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

"You're driving that piece of crap tonight?" asked one of my colleagues.

It wasn't a totally fair assessment, but that's how it goes round here. Through collective experience, we eventually reduce each car in the fleet to snap judgments. It's a sort of Darwinian method of ranking the garage. But, as I told my colleague, I like the Beetle. I don't think it's a piece of crap. Maybe when you throw it hard into corners, rampage on the throttle and try to get it to change directions like an Elise it comes up crappy, but I'm not driving it that hard on my cross-county commutes.

And in theory, our Turbo shouldn't handle as crappily as, say, the base model. Ours has a thicker front sway bar and a multilink rear suspension (base and TDI models get torsion beam rear). But that's not the point of the Beetle anyway. It's simply just a comfortable and stylish set of wheels. Nice interior, nice controls layout. Cool thin-diameter steering wheel. Easy touchscreen media interface. More than that, the turbo 2.0-liter starts unloading its 207 lb-ft of torque from 1,700 rpm.

It's got sauce, plenty in fact for highway overtaking and breaking out from the pack. That part never gets old. And even though it's got shift paddles on the wheel, I find it more fun to push and pull the shifter from the DSG's manual gate.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 12,600 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Road Trip Wrap-Up

December 07, 2012

VW Beetle Cleaned Up.jpg
After five days in the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle I've gotten to know it pretty well. Basically, I love the way it drives.

Here are a few specific pets and pet peeves to share.

Here's what I like:

  • The looks, at least in black.
  • The throaty baritone exhaust note.
  • The look of the interior, except that the shiny black surfaces are dust magnets.
  • The handling, though the suspension might be too firm for some.
  • The fuel efficiency. I got about 33 mpg on the open road.
  • Voice recognition dialing.

Here's what I don't like:

  • The price: $28,265 is too much for this car. Maybe a four door GTI instead.
  • Having to fill up with 91 octane.
  • Poor rear visibility.
  • Limited cargo space.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 11,893 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Just One Question

November 23, 2012

Beetle no ESC button.jpg

Where's the damn ESC-off button? 

On the VW Beetle, even this Turbo model, it's nowhere to be found. In fact, you can't even turn off the traction control. Of course this bothers me, especially for testing purposes when we're running numbers.

But with most VWs we've tested recently, even if they have a "stability control-off" button, the system still isn't fully defeatable anyway. 

So does it really matter? 

Utilizing a response that I usually can't stand: Yes and no.

Yes it's a problem when you exit turns aggressively, because as soon as the front tires spin up at all, the traction control system starts cutting power. This is where a traction control-off button would come in handy.

No, it's not that big of a deal because a) it's a Beetle, it's not like we're talking about a performance machine here, and b) the stability control system has pretty high limits, especially with the new Continental ContiProContact tires we have on it now. You have to be seriously charging hard to get the system to freak out on corner entry.

So while I'm always a little miffed when the stability system can't be defeated...in this case, honestly, not that big of a deal.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 9,772 miles. 

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Wheels. All Of Them

November 12, 2012

Beetle steering wheel.jpg

I imagine Volkswagen is trying to be a bit retro with the Beetle's thin-rim steering wheel. 

It's got to be the thinnest of any steering wheel I've used in recent memory. Which is odd at a time when most wheels seem to be getting nicer. And by nicer, I mean thicker and with better quality materials. 

I'm not saying the Beetle's wheel should be as thick as a BMW M wheel (which are always awesome), but retro or not, it would be nice to have a little something more to hold onto than this. Especially since this is the Turbo model. 

As for the Beetle's other wheels

My personal opinion is that these new disc wheels we recently put on the car are pretty hideous. Your opinions may differ. And that's okay.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 9,441 miles.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Driving Route 66

November 07, 2012


After I refueled our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo in a very remote part of Arizona, I was free to enjoy the rest of U.S. 66 en route to Kingman. What a neat road this is... it's a shame it was mostly euthanized by the Interstate system. I've only encountered pieces of it in the past (the Ted Drewe's on Chippewa St. in St. Louis, for example), but Seligman to Kingman, AZ, is an uninterrupted 80-mile stretch.

There's a lot of desert scenery, but it drives like the major highway it once was, and never gets particularly twisty. And based on an earlier I took in a turbo Beetle on a much more technical road, this didn't come as a disappointment. At least with these tires (and the Hankook set we used to have) and this suspension calibration, the U.S. Beetle Turbo is a more relaxed version of the GTI. It's fun at a moderately brisk clip, but if you start leaning on it hard, it's less enjoyable... it's not big on changing direction, the steering is not overly talkative.

Oddly, though, it has a firmer brake pedal feel than the GTI in my driveway. And, as I mentioned, the ride quality is really good -- better I feel than our long-term GTI which had a different tire package: P235/45R18 Contis on the Beetle vs. 225/40R18 Dunlops on the GTI.

The engine in this car is great, too. Oh, I know, VW uses the 2.0 TSI in everything, but it's totally justified because it's one of the best four-cylinders out there. But after 1,800+ miles, there's no way I'd ever get it with this six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual gearbox.


This has to be the most relaxed state of tune for the six-speed DSG possible, save for the fuel-scrimping programming in our 2011 Jetta TDI. The Beetle feels lethargic leaving the line, and putting it in Sport mode doesn't seem to quicken it up much -- it just makes it more abrupt when the torque finally comes together.

Of course, I should I have taken advantage of the turbo Bug's steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and shifted it manually. But I'm lazy and it didn't even occur to me. Once I see the DSG shifter, I make the mental switch: "Oh, this car is an automatic (even though, no, it's not a true automatic), so I shouldn't have to make any effort to shift gears." Sadly, people like me are probably part of the problem... we expect the DSG to feel like an automatic, then we complain if it delivers firm, positive shifts, and so VW then retunes so it feels smoother and slower like a real automatic. Sorry.

Anyway, this DSG no longer feels anything like the awesomely quick version I experienced in the 2008 R32. So were I to buy a turbocharged Beetle, it would be the conventional six-speed manual version.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,121 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Never Enough Time on Road Trips

November 02, 2012


My one frustration with long road trips is that I never have enough time to go everywhere I want. I left Santa Fe around 2 on Tuesday afternoon, and after stopping for tamales in Albuquerque, and then, ice to keep the tamales fresh all the way back to California, I didn't make it to Petrified Forest National Park before nightfall. Darn. When will I get to come back here and see this natural wonder... next year, five years from now?

But I had to press on, as my plan was to stay overnight in Flagstaff. And thank you, deagle13 for suggesting Black Bart's. I would never have noticed this restaurant, because it's in an RV park as you say, but the food is good and the casual dinner theater vibe, complete with a pianist and a wait staff singing Broadway tunes, is just cool. Some of the waiters must be music majors, as they sound like they could belt out an opera.

And the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo is better than I expected. Not that I thought it would be not good for road trip, but I'd gotten into the habit of seeing it as a stylized, less practical version of the GTI in my personal driveway. But there's more to this package to that, and if I didn't need the GTI's rear legroom, I could see myself wanting a Beetle for general commuting and road-tripping.


First some context, the first "New" Beetle came out when I was in college, and at the time, I was in the target demographic: 20 years old and not male. I was smitten for a month or two. I never bought one, but I did drive one of our ancient, ancient long-term cars -- a 1998 Volkswagen New Beetle TDI with the five-speed manual gearbox.

Now the Beetle is new again, and I feel too old and mature to want one, but good grief, this is a much better car. Nicer materials. Better build quality. The frameless windows seal properly, and while they let in a little more wind noise than framed windows would, the cabin was pretty serene on my road trip.

Also, strangely, I prefer the Beetle's cockpit and driving position to the GTI. It's not the visibility I like, as placing the nose and tail isn't easy (you just have to remember the car is little more than 168 inches long which = short). But the upright windshield angle is neat -- reminds me of being in a Mini or our '85 911. And since the Bug is a little wider than a GTI, it feels like there's more shoulder room and I liked the added spaciousness during my 13-hour day in the car. Also, the weekend before my trip, I had two adults besides myself in the car. Legroom was tight, but I never worried about elbowing my father-in-law.

I like the engine note, too. Yes, it's simulated but it's done well. Lay into the throttle to merge or pass and you get boxer-like engine noises. It's a like a Subaru to the modern ear, but there's also a resemblance to the '73 Super Beetle I drove briefly in college. It's a nice detail, I think -- certainly better than a bud vase.

Driving the Beetle at night was pleasant. The gauges -- white lettering on black background -- are easy to read. Of course, I wish our car had the available bi-xenon headlights, because the standard halogens don't reach that far or seem that bright. But the reality is that I encountered relatively few situations where I was reaching for the brights. The standard headlights were just fine on I-40 through eastern Arizona.

Although I was bummed to miss the petrified forest, the next morning I pointed the Beetle north on U.S. 89 to check out Sunset Crater National Monument. It's a cool looking mountain with a big crater, and everything here formed during an eruption in 1064. And because it's in the desert, it's still only sparsely dotted with vegetation nearly 1,000 years later. It's not quite as dramatic as the Craters of the Moon monument in Idaho but worth checking out if you're in the area and into volcanoes.

More from the road later, including the mpg report plus stories from Route 66.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 8,784 miles

P.S. The pork tamales from El Modelo in Albuquerque survived the trip and rank among the tastiest tamales I've ever eaten. The Sportage pulled up while I was taking the photo, and the driver told me the Beetle looked cool.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Roadtrippin'

October 24, 2012

Last night I wasn't looking forward to the drive to Lancaster, California, after just getting off a flight from Portland. But it was either spend the night up there or wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to get up to The Streets of Willow from L.A. in time for our annual driving school's 7am call time. So I have to say that I was more than a little relieved that Mike Schmidt, keeper of the keys, left the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle for me. A fun, no-brainer car with power, it's just what I needed to stay awake for the late-night 70-mile run.

The automatic with paddle shifters made the bits of traffic on the Hollywood freeway leaving town bearable. I just sat back and enjoyed the journey. Only minor issues are the fact that this car doesn't have satellite or navigation. Yeah, I'm totally spoiled, but when you're driving out in the middle of the desert, these things are just nice to have. I made do with the Scan feature of the FM radio and it was fine.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 6,525 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Be a Sport

October 22, 2012

Be a sport.jpg

For around-town driving and until you get up to cruising speed on the freeway, Sport mode is really the only way to fly in the Beetle. I know chronic use of Sport affects fuel economy, but without it, the car is considerably less fun to drive.

After looking at the most recent Big List of Fuel Economy, I suspect I'm not the only driver who's shifting into Sport. We're getting 21.3 mpg in the car. The EPA's combined figure is 25 mpg. Keep in mind that the Beetle takes 91 octane, so our Sport habit is costing us extra.

Maybe a compromise is in order: Sedate use of Drive during the week, party with Sport on the weekend. If this was your car, would that work for you?

Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @6,425 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: The Low Rumble

October 16, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

In the six months we've had the Beetle Turbo in our lot, we haven't gotten around to its ride quality and quietness. Engineers call this NVH, for noise, vibration and harshness. So how is the Beetle on the road?

Our Beetle Turbo has the optional sport-tuned suspension, but the ride quality doesn't really suffer as a result. You can still feel every bump and rut in the road, but there's no annoying harshness. At least to me, there's just enough initial compliance to cancel out the initial jolt from a pothole.

In terms of road noise, you can definitely hear the tires rolling on pavement. It's muffled to a low rumbling on most surfaces and gives the cabin a sort of hollow sound. The good news is, the road noise never gets to the point where I'd call it intrusive. Wind noise, on the other hand, was never really detectable.

What I really like, however, is the growl that comes from the engine. The turbo lag at the bottom of the revs, I can do without. But all things considered, I wouldn't have any problem logging some serious miles in the Beetle on a road trip.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Aural Fixation

October 16, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

So my favorite thing about our Beetle has got to be that purring, baritone engine note. It's the kind of sound effect that makes you want to keep laying into the throttle.

My second-favorite thing would be the way it hugs corners, tight as a tourniquet, and low to the ground. All in all, this is a car that, for me, is very enjoyable to drive.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Track Tested

October 8, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Track Tested: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Automatic or Manual?

September 5, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Personally I can't quite figure it out.

The specifications sheet says the VW Beetle Turbo's DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) is a high-tech, dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

But I can't figure out whether it's an automatic transmission or a kind of fast-acting manual with an automatic clutch.

Developed by BorgWarner and licensed to the Volkswagen Group, the DSG was the first dual-clutch transmission in a series production car when it was introduced in 2003. As I understand it, the BorgWarner engineer who led the project moved to Ricardo, where he developed the fast-acting dual-clutch transmission for the Bugatti Veyron (not an easy task for such a powerful application).

This makes the DSG sound like it's a performance-oriented transmission, doesn't it?  And that makes you think of a manual transmission, doesn't it?  That's certainly what I thought of automated manual transmissions when fast-acting single-cutch designs were introduced for Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

BMW has always portrayed the automated manual transmission as a manual-style performance device, first with the single-clutch design for the previous M3 and now with the dual-clutch design for the current M3 and new M6. Same with the Mitsubishi Evo, for which its Getrag-developed dual-clutch transmission was subsequently developed for BMW, Ferrari and now others.

But then you consider Porsche, which adapted its ZF-built dual-clutch automated manual to push-button control for the Type 997 version of the Porsche 911 because it considered the design to be an automatic transmission, a convenience alternative to the six-speed manual transmission. Of course, 911 enthusiasts immediately complained (much to Porsche's consternation) and the company was forced to develop an optional, high-performance shift paddle design for operating the PDK. The same arrangement continues for the Type 991 version of the 911.

So, is the VW's transmission an automatic or a manual?  The DSG is meant to shift very smoothly, so the shift action is a little slow to keep things unobtrusive. I think of it as an automatic as a result. Ford has had to tinker with its own dual-clutch transmission for the Fiesta and Focus to counter complaints of rough shifting, so the design seems to be thought of as an automatic for these cars as well.

There's no pattern emerging here, is there?  I like automated manual transmissions because of the quickness of the shift action, and I'm really not fussy about whether it's a single- or dual-clutch design, just as the difference between an Audi R8 and Ferrari California isn't really important. Without automated manual transmissions, exotic cars would be undrivable garage queens, just like they were for decades before the Ferrari 360 Modena and Lamborghini Gallardo.

It really seems like the whole issue has to do with our prejudices about the vehicles in which the transmission is installed. A dual-clutch automated manual in a Volkswagen is an automatic, but a dual-clutch automated manual in a Ferrari is a fast-acting manual. You think?

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 5,166 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Aggressive Hill Hold

August 13, 2012


It's rare when a car with an automatic transmission has an aggressive hill hold feature. I'm not complaining. I thinks it's a good idea in any car. I sure wish more cars had hill hold when I was learning to drive stick. Everything seems like a hill when you are a newbie.

What's interesting about the VW Beetle's hill hold is that it works forward and back. I've never noticed that in any other maker's cars. So, not only will it keep you from rolling backwards, it holds you tight when you are facing downhill as well.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor@ 4,351 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Redline-ish

August 10, 2012


Here is the tachometer in the 2012 VW Beetle. It features a fading redline. It's not very specific. So, what exactly is the redline in the Beetle?

The answer: 6,500

Artsy or Annoying?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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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

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: My What a Big Fuel Gauge You Have

August 02, 2012


Yes, that's the first thing that struck me when I got in our Beetle for the first time. No idea why really, it's just huge. Big as the tach in fact, not sure I've ever seen that before.

That oddity aside, I was reminded how awesome VW's 2.0-liter turbo engine is once again. We had essentially the same engine in our Audi A4 Avant awhile back and it was great in that car, too. Not much has changed. It's smooth, has plenty of power and doesn't sound half bad for a four-cylinder. The mileage figures haven't been great overall, but that should improve as the mileage piles up. Too bad the new Passat doesn't offer the same engine, that would be a nice combo.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Inside Line

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Conehead

July 18, 2012


Dan Edmunds, our director of vehicle testing, says the Volkswagen Beetle Turbo is the perfect thing for the test track. But maybe not for the reasons you might have guessed.

First of all, he likes the long doors with a low beltline, so he can park the Beetle near the slalom and skidpad areas at Auto Club Speedway and get a good view as he records the test times relayed to him over the two-way radios by our test drivers.

But most important, the Beetle is an excellent cone picker-upper.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Throw Me a Curve

July 12, 2012


I like a car that feels confident going round a curve. For me the joy of driving comes in the twisties.

I'm very pleased when I drive our 2012 Beetle. It can really handle a bend in the road. Its low and wide stance keep it stable. Its Independent MacPherson struts and rear independent 4-link suspension help her stand up even in the tightest turns.

Combine that with a turbocharged 200-horsepower engine and 207 lb-ft of torque at only 1,700 rpm and you're laughing.

I know many people don't like the flat-bottom steering wheel but I think it adds to my enjoyment. And you can still get a Beetle with a manual transmission.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: I Like It, But It Doesn't Really Suit My Lifestyle

July 05, 2012


I enjoy driving our long-term Beetle. Highlights for me include the heritage-based exterior styling, the quick acceleration from the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, the distinctive interior design and the expansive amount of customization available. It's a cheerful small car.

However, as I'm a parent with two young children, it probably won't come as a surprise to hear me say that our long-term Beetle doesn't really fit my lifestyle.

By this I mean on a theoretical daily use and practicality standpoint. Mostly, it comes down to the hassle of dealing with kid shuttling duty (lugging my one-year-old in and out of his rear-facing safety seat was particularly not fun) and the Beetle's petite luggage area.

For me, I'd end up getting a four-door GTI or a GLI if I were buying off a VW lot. I'd lose a lot of personality, but that's the trade-off. Still, I think it's cool VW decided to keep going with the (new) Beetle, as it puts most of the Golf and Jetta's appealing qualities into a much more stylish package for those who want it.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @3,210 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Get The DSG?

June 29, 2012


For our departed VW Jetta TDI, I wrote that I'd pick the DSG transmission if I were buying that car. This ran counter to a lot of my coworkers, who found the DSG behavior to be annoying. The main issues were: 1) Sluggish throttle response in Drive from a stop; 2) The alternative, Sport mode, was arguably too sporty for normal use; 3) Engine braking during braking at low speeds (15 mph) that made it difficult to come to a stop smoothly. But for me, I didn't find those quirks to be all that bad, especially given the Jetta's commuter car/family car mission.

Yet I also know if I were to buy a GTI, I'd get the manual transmission. So where does that leave the Beetle Turbo?

Our Beetle Turbo lies somewhere in the middle of those two cars. Well, it's closer to the GTI given its engine and suspension tuning. But it's also not as sporty or as fun as the GTI, as James wrote. It's more of a style/image car than the GTI.

The DSG quirks are still present in our Beetle. I often find myself switching between Drive, Sport and manual mode simply because I can't find a mode that just works. It can be annoying. But DSG is still nice to have for congested traffic, and it does give you more control and quicker responses than a regular automatic. Hmm. Tough call, but I think I'd go with the manual transmission for a Beetle Turbo.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Kissing Bumpers

June 01, 2012


This is not what the owner of a new car wants to see: a scratched-up car parked a finger-width away from your (nearly) shiny bumper. OK, so I'm not really the owner of our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, and the offending vehicle isn't even touching our car, but still. This is why we can't have nice things in the city.

I do have to say, though, that I've found the Beetle's curvature does make it a bit of a challenge to parallel-park. From the driver seat it's difficult to tell where its bumper ends so I'm always compelled to get out of the car to check how far I am from the other car.

Maybe that was the above Impala's issue with our car as well. Of course, this probably wouldn't be a problem for an actual VW Beetle owner who would grow accustomed to its dimensions.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Still Fun Doing the Mundane

May 29, 2012

I didn't really get to do anything fun with our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle considering it was a long, glorious holiday weekend. No beachside cruising or mountain touring. But even then, for just driving through holiday traffic and running errands around town, I enjoyed my stint behind its wheel.

Lots of smooth power, zippy handling and it makes me smile whenever I walk up to it sitting there waiting for me. It's a great motivator for getting off the couch. "Sure, I'll go and grab you a sandwich, friendo." "You want to meet clear across the other side of town for brunch? OK!"

And since it was an especially hot one this weekend, I really appreciated how efficiently the climate controls cooled down the cabin. Sure, the sunroof has an interior sliding cover made out of mesh but even with sunlight shining through that didn't seem to heat up the cabin too much.

So far I like this car a lot.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 1,689 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: I Like Driving It

May 21, 2012


I'd always been reluctant to drive a VW Beetle, mostly because of its previous incarnation with bud vase. I had a neighbor who decorated her red one with black dots to make it look like a lady bug. Yes, really. Cringe.

But the new manned-up Beetle is fun. Guys dig it. I see them looking. And I've had a few ask me about it.

It has a spunky turbo engine, makes a pleasing sound, has a comfortable interior, solid steering and feels secure through turns. I like a car that can handle a curve. And it's in an accessible price range.

Have you driven the new 2012 Beetle?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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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

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