VW Beetle vs rivals

Muscular new VW Beetle aims to build on the sales success of previous cars. But can it see off its MINI and Vauxhall rivals?

VW Beetle vs rivals

Since the legendary air-cooled original revolutionised family transport in 1938, more than 21 million VW Beetles have found homes around the world. Now an all-new version is set to continue the success story.

Promising to be fun to drive and packing more aggressive looks, the latest model aims to steal sales from premium superminis and classy coupes.

Compared to the VW, the MINI is a relative newcomer. The legendary British model first hit the headlines in 1959, while the latest version arrived in 2006.

With its combination of cheeky looks, fun driving dynamics and upmarket appeal, the MINI still sets the retro car standard. What’s more, a recent update has given the engines more power and lower CO2 emissions.

Our final challenger is the Vauxhall Astra GTC. It doesn’t have a premium badge or pay homage to a famous ancestor, but the rakish three-door is one of the most head-turning models on sale, while its roomy cabin delivers family hatch practicality.

So which of our contenders has the winning blend of desirability, fun and value for money?

Verdict

Many buyers will choose one of these cars on looks alone. Yet there’s more to them than that.

The new Beetle is a vast improvement on its predecessor. Sleeker styling, a more upmarket cabin and sharper driving dynamics mark it out. Plus, it’s extremely well equipped, offers decent residuals and should be cost-effective to run. As a result it narrowly beats the rakish Astra.

The Vauxhall is boldly designed, extremely practical and surprisingly engaging to drive. But high CO2 emissions, poor residuals and more costly servicing count against the sleek GTC. Neither car can match the MINI in the final reckoning, though.

While the Cooper S suffers from a cramped cabin and firm ride, in every other respect it leads the way in this test. It’s great fun to drive and provides scorching performance, while its cast-iron residuals and comprehensive tlc service pack help minimise running costs. The fact it’s also the cheapest to car buy here is the icing on the cake.

Winner MINI Cooper S ★★★★

Advancing years and familiarity haven’t diminished the MINI’s appeal. In Cooper S form it’s fast, fun and surprisingly good value. Plus, the endless personalisation options mean it’s still possible to make your car stand out. The biggest fly in the ointment is the poor practicality.

2nd VW Beetle ★★★★

The new Beetle has clearly been aimed squarely at the MINI. More aggressive styling, composed driving dynamics and a classy cabin make the VW a much more desirable choice than its predecessor. Yet it’s more expensive than the Cooper S and will cost you more to run.

3rd Vauxhall Astra GTC ★★★

The Vauxhall was the joker in this fashionable pack, and finished closer to its rivals than our result suggests. Good looks, strong refinement and a composed drive mark out the GTC, while its cabin is the most spacious here. Yet it’s costly to own for private and company users alike.

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