What is it?
It’s the new Volkswagen Beetle. And despite substantial design modifications (it’s wider, longer and lower as well as distinctly sleeker) it’s still easily identified as a modern incarnation of the classic air-cooled model.
Sitting beneath the sharper looks is a platform made up of an amalgamation of current VW parts, mostly from the Golf. All Beetles get multilink suspension up front, but if you want the sophisticated multilink rear suspension that the Golf benefits from you’ll have to buy the range-topping 197bhp 2.0-litre TSI model, which is unlikely to be here until 2013.
Every other Beetle model, including the 158bhp 1.4 TSI Sport tested here, gets torsion beam at the rear. Other engines will include a 1.2 TSI, as well as a 1.6- and 2.0-litre diesel.
What’s it like?
It’s better than the previous generation, but then with today’s VAG parts as good as they are that’s like being asked to make roast beef taste better than gruel; not hard.
Sit in the new Beetle and the piano black inserts (mid-level Design cars get body-coloured panels), simple switchgear, slim-rimmed steering wheel and twin glovebox make this a more distinct and interesting interior than you’ll find in the Golf or Scirocco.