2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Long-Term Test

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo: Wrap-Up

May 9, 2013

Read the introduction of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo long-term updates on this vehicle.

What We Got
Before ordering our completely redesigned 2012 Volkswagen Beetle we had one important choice to make. Would it be a base model Beetle with the 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-5? Or should we upgrade to the 2.0-liter, turbocharged version with 200 hp? Since the Beetle is a car that screams "fun," the turbo seemed like the obvious choice.

The starting price for our Turbo Beetle with the optional six-speed automated manual was $24,495. We passed on the less popular six-speed manual since it's a rarely ordered option in the U.S. Standard equipment on our Turbo Beetle included heated seats, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler and seat fabric unique to this trim level. We added the Sunroof & Sound package ($3,000), sport suspension (no cost), floor mat kit ($235) and first-aid kit ($35). Add back a credit of $150 for the base gauge cluster and we arrived at its $28,385 MSRP.

Volkswagen provided us with a loan for a year so there was no negotiating to be done. Here's what we found after a year behind the wheel.

Our Impressions

  • "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." — Mark Takahashi

  • "It didn't take long for me to appreciate the steering at higher speeds and note that the ride was perfectly pleasant on the 101, which for much of the Central Coast is the rare well-paved highway in California. The laggardly throttle response also wasn't of concern when driving at a constant speed, usually on cruise control. A need to pass or merge back onto the 101 post pit stop usually necessitates a drop down into Sport mode, but that's why it's there, right?" — James Riswick

  • 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

  • "Full disclosure: I've almost gotten to the point of disqualifying myself from evaluating seat comfort. Advancing age and dwindling time in the weight room have left my glutes incapable of withstanding far too many average-quality driver seats (without complaint, that is) on typical 3-to-4-hour drives. But I've decided to discuss our Beetle's driver seat here because I found the comfort level above average on my recent 1,800-mile road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and back.... Aside from the fairly generous bolsters on the seatback cushion, the base cloth seat doesn't look particularly special. But the seat-bottom cushion is long enough to provide good thigh support, and the cushioning is firm enough that I could go 6-8 hours before I'd get all whiny. And even then, since I was alone in the car, nobody had to listen to me." — Erin Riches

  • "Pretty lazy off the line as the automated-manual transmission slips the clutch, but then the traction control light comes on in the middle of 1st gear to quell wheelspin. Dramatic difference when I overlapped pedals as well as using S transmission mode where it chirps the 1-2 shift. Upshifts are dramatically quicker in S mode." — Chris Walton

  • "Having spent more time with our 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? I'd personally still get the manual. But for someone buying a Beetle, I'd be OK with him or her getting the DSG. There's a catch, though. The workaround solution, I've discovered, is using the manual gear-selecting paddle shifters. All of the time. Using the manual shifters eliminates the sluggish throttle response and awkward engine braking. And in a way, using the paddle shifters is the perfect match for the semi-sportiness of the car." — Brent Romans

  • "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 wheel-mounted paddle shifters and shifted it manually. But I'm lazy and it didn't even occur to me.... 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." — Erin Riches

  • "I'm a big fan of the cabin design, with its large, easily reachable touchscreen and simple climate controls. Now the materials are a bit cheap for a Volkswagen, especially compared to the similarly priced GTI, but the visual is better. Finally, the Fender audio system did a commendable job with the range of music shuffling through my iPhone." — James Riswick

  • 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

  • "A severe lack of rear headroom was a major fault of the old 'New Beetle.' But here with the new-generation car you have a much more usable amount of headroom for adults. I'm 5 feet 10 inches tall and my head is still about 1 inch below the Beetle's headliner when I'm sitting in back. There's also enough room for my legs and feet if the driver seat is positioned for me. The rear seat also has decent contouring to it, furthering comfort." — Brent Romans

  • "This is something that I hope VW keeps doing: the seatback adjuster knob. Meaning, it's not a lever. Those two levers you're looking at, by the way, are for lumbar and seat height. But the beauty of a round knob, such as this, is that it's infinitely adjustable, whereas levers usually have set points that they adjust to. And quite often, none of those points are exactly where you want the seatback to be. So VW, please don't take away the knob, OK?" — Mike Monticello

  • "As Scott said recently, Bluetooth pairing is a piece of cake in our long-term 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." — Carroll Lachnit

  • "It is not easy backing out of a parking spot in the new Volkswagen Beetle. Not only is the C-pillar very thick, but the rear headrest is enormous. The latter might be nice for your rare rear passenger, but not so good when trying to avoid backing into something or someone.... Also not helping is our Beetle's lack of a rearview camera. For $28,000 it should have one." — James Riswick

  • "This isn't big news but the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle isn't a good golf car. It's as if VW didn't even try. The clubs can't be fit in sideways or even diagonally, the way they go into a lot of cars. Instead, you have to flip down the seats and put them in the long way, which is a hassle." — Philip Reed

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Routine service on the Beetle Turbo is scheduled at 10,000-mile intervals. Volkswagen Carefree Maintenance pays for the first three of these visits. Since we accumulated just 18,000 miles during our test, we only utilized the free 10,000-mile service.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

We brought the Beetle in for one off-schedule oil change and tire rotation to gauge the cost once its complimentary program expires. Volkswagen Santa Monica charged $148 for this basic service. Good to know. For accounting purposes we included this fee as an additional maintenance cost, though it should not be counted against the overall cost to maintain our Beetle for a year, which was nothing.

Service Campaigns:
Our only problem with the Beetle in the past year was a failure of the pinch protection mechanism in the front windows. Reprogramming the switches was only a temporary fix. The permanent solution was replacement of both front window motors under warranty.

During our test two recall campaigns were issued, though neither affected our Beetle directly. One was for an airbag fault, and the other for a tire problem from the factory.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo at 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, an average of 25 mpg combined. Edmunds' observed fuel economy was 24 mpg on the average. We recorded a best single-tank range of 423 miles, which easily qualified the Beetle as a member of the "Good for a Road Trip" Club.

Resale and Depreciation:
One year ago our 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo arrived with an MSRP of $28,385. After one year and 18,450 miles, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the VW at $21,521 based on a private-party sale. This reflected 24 percent depreciation, which rates about average among past long-term cars.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

Summing Up

Pros: Power from the 2.0-liter turbo is adequate for most situations, though passing will require a downshift. Single-tank fuel range is more than 400 miles and front seats are comfortable enough for the ride. Easy-to-use and reliable Bluetooth phone connection. Reasonable rear-seat room for a two-door. Free scheduled maintenance is great.

Cons: The DSG is awkward in normal driving conditions unless manual shifting is practiced. The VW's retro design still limits visibility. Cargo space is merely adequate unless you fold the seats down. Interior plastics quality is hit-and-miss.

Bottom Line: Our 2012 VW Beetle Turbo proved dependable, affordable to maintain and comfortable on long trips. Other than its lazy transmission, we found little to complain about over 12 months of driving.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: None (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $148.19
Warranty Repairs: Replace both window motors
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 1 to replace window motors
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 32.6 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 24.3 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $21,521 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $6,864 (24% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 18,450 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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