2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long Term Road Test - Audio & Technology

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Long Term Road Test

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Voice Commands Only

March 8, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

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.

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: The Best Bluetooth

January 30, 2013

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Over the years I've paired my iPhone to the Bluetooth of hundreds of cars, from entry level models to exotics that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Last night, however, was my first time Bluetoothing in our long-term 2012 VW Beetle Turbo. It could not have been easier.

In fact, it may have been the best Bluetooth experience of my life. While most cars have you changing screens and digging into menus, the Beetle found my phone before I had even asked it too. I put in the four digit code and the phone and car were paired within a couple of seconds. It was so quick and effortless I thought I had forgotten to do something. I hadn't.

In the past, phone pairing in Volkswagens was like the U.S. Senate, completely frustrating and rarely successful. But no longer. Telematics are only going to get more important as we move down the road, and now VW leads the way.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 14,001 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Drive with Impunity

December 06, 2012

VW Beetle Speedo.jpg
I have a friend who says you can "drive with impunity" as long as you don't exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph. It's all about even numbers and benchmarks. So if the limit is 70 I'll do 77 mph but never 80 or above. On my way back from Las Vegas I selected the digital speedometer in the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle so I could dial the speed in accurately. Then I set the cruise control.

No speeding tickets.

But while I'm on the subject, I don't like the cruise controls for the VW. On the next page is a picture of what I mean.

Most cars have levers that you nudge up or down to adjust your speed. The Beetle has this silly little switch at the end of the stalk. Also, the on/off switch is finicky and hard to select when you're keeping your eyes on the road.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 11,490 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Get the Led Out

November 27, 2012

VW Zep Fender_web.jpgMaybe only nerd-level classic rock lovers (card-carrying member, I am) will appreciate the irony of jamming some Zeppelin over a Fender-branded audio system. Zep guitarist Jimmy Page became synonymous with Gibson Les Paul guitars once the band became a household name, and Gibson was Fender's primary rival among rock guitar gods.

But in the group's earliest days, Page actually forged Zeppelin's heavy blues template on a Fender Telecaster.

The Tele was, and still is, a versatile axe. But its pickup design ultimately couldn't deliver the heft that Page later found in a Les Paul fed through the amplifiers of the day.

The Beetle's Fender system -- which is really a Panasonic-designed and supplied system -- is surprisingly good. Crisp, clear highs, slightly biased bass and midrange. Nothing too audiophile about it, just clear with good volume. Then again this is only a cursory impression, 40-year-old bootlegs being only so useful in judging sound quality.

Anyway, the Zep/Fender/Beetle connection has a nice symmetry to it. I'm guessing the Beetle in all its incarnations has hosted more hazy Zeppelin listening parties than any other car in history.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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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: Buttons

November 08, 2012


After 1,881 miles, I feel qualified to reflect on the usability of the steering wheel buttons in our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo. In general, I like having the volume adjustment on the left-hand side of the steering wheel and I used it 95 percent of the time (versus the main volume knob on the head unit).

In general, it was easy to adjust the volume without looking down at the buttons, but it's a little crowded there on the left-hand steering wheel spoke, and twice during my trip when trying to lower the volume, I hit the voice control button below it instead. Both times, I got all befuddled and couldn't immediately figure out how to cancel voice control... saying "cancel" doesn't do it; you've got to hit the button again. But two times over that many miles isn't bad, so this is a pretty good design.

You'll notice the cruise control stalk behind the spoke also looks a little crowded, especially since it's a combo stalk that also controls the turn signals. But, it, too, was straightforward to use. I didn't find the toggle button on the end of the stalk that helpful for fine-tuning the set speed, though, so I'd usually end up cancelling cruise and resetting the speed with my right foot.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,121 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: The Road to New Mexico

October 30, 2012


Well, I surprised myself and made it from Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico, in time for my 6 p.m. (Mountain Time) dinner meeting. I left the house just before 5 a.m. under a lovely full moon (sigh, yes, the same full moon that contributed to the horrific storm surge back East... if you're dealing with that right now, you have my sympathy), and a couple hours into the trip, it was still visible and the sun still wasn't up. Can you tell I'm not usually an early riser? Heh.

It took me 12 hours and 20 minutes to reach my hotel in Santa Fe (of course, that's actual driving time and doesn't include my fuel stops in Kingman and Gallup, my Del Taco stop in Flagstaff, my fruitless search for a Starbucks in Gallup or this photo stop). I know this because the time counter in the Beetle's trip computer is linked to the "Route" feature... resetting one resets the other, plus the average speed, I believe. The Route feature counts your miles and basically functions as your Trip B in a car that doesn't have the American-style A/B setup. Very useful on a trip like this.

So far, I'm liking the Beetle's ride quality with the new Continental tires. It's just a smidge more compliant than the GTI, and has been great on Interstate 40 through Arizona and New Mexico. There's a lot of repaving going on right now, so surface conditions have varied a lot, and the Beetle hits that road-trip sweet spot between control and comfort.

Thanks for all the suggestions on places to eat and possible routes. Regrettably, I won't be able to fit in everything, but I will be hitting a couple of them before I get home.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,782 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: iPhone 5 and Android Users SOL?

October 4, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Yesterday I got my Samsung Galaxy SIII down to gasp! 4 percent. I was hoping our long-term 2012 Volkswagen Beetle offered a way to charge it up. But turns out the glovebox only had an adapter for iPhones. Bah.

Apparently those who need a different sort of adapter can get them from the VW dealer. But then I read that there actually isn't one for Android users. There seem to be contradicting reports. Can anyone confirm? Not that it matters, since this isn't my car. At least those who possess the new iPhone 5 can buy the $29 adapter/$39 cable to hook up their new gadget which comes with a smaller dock connector, compared to the previous 30-pin one. Android users can still connect for sure via Bluetooth.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 5,994 miles

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: iPod Location

September 11, 2012

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Do you listen to your iPod in the car? Where do you prefer the connection be located?

Our VW Beetle has the connector in the glove box. Some cars put it behind the shifter and some in the center console.

I prefer the center console so I don't have to reach over to the passenger side if I want to make a change.

Which location do you prefer?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle: Fender Flair

July 09, 2012


I was a little skeptical about Fender supplying (or at least lending their name) premium audio in Volkswagen vehicles. After all, they're not known for audiophile-grade components, they're known for kickass guitars and helping to push rock n' roll to new heights.

After a little listening session, though, I can say it's a pretty decent system.

It's not going to knock your socks off or really make anyone say, "wow, this sounds amazing," but it certainly won't cause much regret having it bundled with the sunroof and navigation package. It produces moderately clear highs and a decent punch down low. Really, the only detractor to the system doesn't have to do with the system at all. It's the amount of road noise that intrudes into the cabin.

But what I find really impressive is the special edition Fender Beetle that comes with the brown sunburst Stratocaster dash trim. That. Is. Awesome.

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