Volkswagen Beetle (2011-2019) review - Engines, performance and drive
Lively engines and a competent chassis mean the Beetle drives well – but it’s not as much fun as a MINI
The Volkswagen Beetle largely shares its underpinnings with the previous generation Mk6 Volkswagen Golf, so you can expect it to drive well. The chassis offers plenty of grip, reasonable body control and well-weighted steering, all of which help to keep the Beetle well ahead of smaller cars such as the Fiat 500.
Ultimately though, the Beetle can't compete with the MINI or DS 3 for agility or fun, as it quikcly loses composure in faster driving. The sporty-looking R-line models do little to alter that conclusion, while the jacked-up Dune's bigger wheels also harm the ride quality. At least all are reasonably refined and acceptably good cruisers.
The turbocharged 109bhp 1.4 TSI petrol engine is refined and responsive, while the 148bhp 2.0 TDI delivers a great mix of economy and punch. Both are offered with a six-speed manual gearbox, while the slick six and seven-speed twin clutch DSG transmissions are available as an option. The DSG box changes gears smoothly, but its responses can feel a little slow at lower speeds.
There are four engine options for the Beetle, the least exciting of which is a 1.2-litre petrol TSI unit with 104bhp and 175Nm of torque. It will top out at 112mph and does 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds though, so feels lively enough for an entry-model.
Next up is a 1.4 TSI with 109bhp and 185Nm that does 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds, while the 2.0 TDI diesel has either 109bhp or 148bhp. The former manages 0-62mph in 11.0 seconds and the latter takes 8.9 seconds to do the benchmark sprint. Top speeds are 113mph and 125mph respectively.
In this review
- 1Volkswagen Beetle (2011-2019) reviewVolkswagen's iconic Beetle has traded cuteness for a sporty feel. But it can't match the MINI for driving fun
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingLively engines and a competent chassis mean the Beetle drives well – but it’s not as much fun as a MINI
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDecent ecnomy from the strong engine range should keep the running costs down
- 4Interior, design and technologyMore aggressively styled and more premium – the Beetle has upped its game
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceA ‘regular’ hatchback is more practical, but the Beetle is certainly not a lost cause
- 6Reliability and SafetySharing a previous generation Golf platform leaves the Beetle slightly behind the curve