But up front it’s entirely comfortable, your vista improved for dashboard architecture cleverly redolent of the original.
Driving this VW is utterly straightforward too, especially with the optional £1595 DSG transmission, which combines well with the 140bhp 2.0 TDI motor. In drive it’s keen to fuel-save with short shifts, which is no problem given the 236lb ft supply of torque from 1750rpm.
Tug the gearlever rearwards for sport and you’ll exploit the diesel’s smooth-revving demeanour – it climbs to 5000rpm – and enjoy surprisingly sprightly performance besides, the Beetle briskly breaking 80mph if you’ll let it.
This enthusiasm works well with a chassis that allows little roll, lending the Beetle a pleasingly chuckable demeanour that almost allows you to consider it as a sporting coupe. Almost, because the decently precise steering is bereft of real feel, and the Beetle’s ride betrays a sometimes startling lack of sophistication.
Sharp bumps it makes little attempt to absorb at all – though the suspension is at least quiet – a failing that makes you less than keen to fling it around on bumpy country backroads. More seriously for most buyers is its disturbed urban ride.
Blame the Beetle’s simple twist-beam rear axle for the sophistication shortfall, this choice further evidence of VW’s need to pare the cost of Beetle-building.
Should I buy one?
The result of this is a car that falls well short of the Golf’s functionality and polish - and we’re talking here of the shortly-to-be-replaced sixth edition too.
Despite this, the third-generation Beetle is a more satisfying car than the second, and with the diesel’s torque almost turns sporting.
But the best way to buy this icon is as a lesser model, dressed with some choice options.
Volkswagen Beetle Design 2.0 TDI DSG
Price £21,680; 0-62mph 9.4sec; Top speed 121mph; Economy 52.3mpg; CO2 140g/km Kerb weight 1417kg; Engine four cyls in-line, 1968cc Power 138bhp at 4200rpm Torque 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 6-speed twin-clutch DSG