What is it?
A new addition to the VW Beetle’s UK range. This turbocharged 2.0-litre model adds a little bit of pace and pep to the line-up, with 197bhp and 206lb ft of torque, not to mention an independent multi-link rear suspension system in place of the torsion beam you’ll find on any less powerful Beetle.
What is it like?
If Volkswagen’s aim for the new Beetle was to inject some testosterone into the car’s appeal, and rebalance the hitherto female-dominated customer base, it’s had limited success. The car now looks slightly less like somewhere to get your nails done, it’s true, but to drive, it remains under-nourished, unexciting and generally unimpressive.
VW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre engine is the same one seen in the last Golf GTI, albeit in slightly detuned form. It makes a bassy, interesting warble you could almost confuse for that of a five-pot. It’s also got plenty of performance and responds well to the accelerator.
But then the engine was never likely to be among the weaker points of this particular recipe. Those, in ascending order of weakness, are an electro-mechanical steering system loaded with unhelpful weight (but still lacking feedback), and a wooden and unyielding suspension tune.
The latter certainly rules out much lateral roll and, in tandem with the car’s 19in alloys, provides lots of grip. But it feels every bit as incompatible with UK roads as the Beetle’s Central American origins imply. As well as creating a lot of road noise, the Beetle’s suspension thumps over broken and uneven surfaces, and all the while fails to keep particularly close control of vertical body movements.
Should I buy one?
No. This car finds itself in an unenviable place in the market. It possesses neither the dynamic sophistication to appeal to the likes of you and I, nor the soft-edged habitability and ease of use to rank as a particularly credible high-end fashion car.
There will always be customers persuaded more by the Beetle’s chirpy style than they may be dissuaded by its relative lack of substance, but they’re well advised to steer clear of this version, and to buy a cheaper, more comfy and more usable model – if they must.
Volkswagen Beetle 2.0 TSI Turbo Silver DSG
Price £24,605; 0-62mph 7.5sec; Top speed 139mph; Economy 37.2mpg; CO2 176g/km; Kerb weight 1439kg; Engine type, cc 4 cyls, 1984cc, turbocharged; Power 197bhp at 5100rpm; Torque 206lb ft at 5000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch