Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle.
Volkswagen’s second generation Beetle has a more pronounced sporting bent than the model it replaces. Longer, lower and wider it’s also far more masculine than the previous Beetle, although it’s still unlikely to find a home in the driveway of a red blooded footy playing bloke.
In fact in my week with the Volkswagen Beetle I was regularly asked if Volkswagen made versions of the Beetle for men, if I’d forgotten my handbag or if I was on my way to pick up my boyfriend!
That aside, I would be more than happy to recommend the new Beetle. Beautifully built, brilliantly economical and with capable predictable handling, the new Beetle is an accomplished machine.
It certainly looks a lot better than the outgoing model, gone is the novelty vase & flower from the dashboard, instead it boasts an interior reminiscent of the original Beetle, only with a lot more polish and a lot less fumes.
The dash is wrapped in body colour faux metal that looks great in combination with the chunky, flat bottomed steering wheel, high grade plastics and big supportive seats that ensure a great driving position.
Visibility in the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle is excellent, although with the large C Pillars at the rear reversing out of a shopping centre car park can at times be a bit of a challenge.
With only one spec available, The Beetle is well equipped with 5 Star Safety, and front & rear parking sensors with an animated display on the reasonably sized central screen, which also controls the audio system. Dual zone climate control and Bluetooth are standard; you’ll have to fork out extra cash however for sat nav, sunroof & leather.
Endowed with a remarkably punchy turbo charged & supercharged 1.4 litre 4 cylinder producing 118w & 240Nm, the Volkswagen Beetle feels spritely and has a great soundtrack.
The seven speed DSG gearbox, regardless of the bad press it’s had recently, is a brilliant unit, climbing up & down through the gears with blistering pace, and automatically blipping the throttle on the way back through the gears. At low speeds it can be a bit jerky like most dual clutch gearboxes, that said, it’s very easy to live with.
The engine spins easily to the 6000 red line and loves to rev. With a big spread of torque across the range, power is always instantaneous, and with both the turbo & supercharger in play there is never any hint of lag.
Economy is a highlight, even without a stop-start system, I easily averaged 7.1 litres (of premium unleaded) per 100km through the city, with plenty of enthusiastic bursts of the right pedal.
On the road the Volkswagen Beetle is hard to unsettle. With great composure through the bends and on the highway, the Volkswagen is always predictable.
Comfortable and compliant, the ride is good soaking up the worst our roads can throw at it with the minimum of fuss. It’s not a sports car by any means, but when the mood arises the Beetle is always up for a spirited blast and is an engaging and entertaining drive. It feels quicker than the number suggest, with 100km/h coming up in 8.3 seconds from standstill.
At a smidge over $32,000 before on roads for the DSG as tested, the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle represents great value when stacked up against it’s most obvious competition – The Mini.
Like the Mini, the Volkswagen Beetle offers quirky looks combined with assured handling, has a great engine and gearbox combo and is beautifully built. For the first time, the Beetle in its second generation is a worthy competitor.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.4 litre turbo and supercharged petrol developing 118kW and 240Nm
Transmission: 6-Speed manual or 7-Speed DSG
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: 3 years
Price: From $29,990
For further information, please see Recalls and faults: Volkswagen A5 Beetle.