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      Volkswagen Beetle Review

      Santosh Nair

      Santosh Nair


      The need for the original Volkswagen Beetle was born out of the thoughts of Adolf Hitler who only wanted a cheap and simple car to be mass produced for the German roads. And look where history has taken this iconic car. Though today’s Beetle is not exactly the ‘Peoples Car’ anymore, VW knows it and has rightfully given it the privileges of a highly decorated officer for the duties it fulfilled in marking VW’s history over 60 years. So, for you and me who were born not so long ago; you either drool over it or keep reading to find out why you should buy one at Rs 28.7 lakh. 



      Appearance Exterior

      One look is all you need to get your eyes riveted on to the new Beetle. Designers at VW have done a great job by retaining cues from the original iconic design to fuse it with this contemporary update. You’d reckon it looks stretched backwards! So what you do get is the curvy exterior lines all across - and I mean the bonnet, massive wheel arches, head lamps, and even the sloping roofline. The bug look is ever so pronounced and catches quite a lot of attention, especially the feminine kind.


      Hold your guns; if you thought this was a ‘chick’ car then you might want to think again. This time around VW claims that the new Beetle should be able to attract more manly buyers compared to the outgoing model due to the more aggressive lines. We felt otherwise though, and with the predominant curves, tighter than traditional car dimensions and that oh-so sober spoiler bolted on, it’s still a far cry from being desirable to a man. All said, the car exudes an impressive stance and full marks to VW for crafting the sense of appeal this car exhibits.


      Appearance Interior

      Peep into the car and the dashboard is what steals your attention instantly. It has been designed with the original one in mind and the current avatar turns out to be an excellent combination of both the old and new put together. So there’s the exterior paint shade matching panels on the dash and doors along with a replica of the original glovebox. Though the knob to open the stylish glovebox felt a little fidgety to operate, you can always switch to the additional glovebox under it.


      Frameless doors have their charm especially on a two-door car like this. Fling them open and you can feel the airy ambience once seated and that’s mainly due the B-pillarless cabin which generates a feeling of more room. Increased dimensions can now be put into perspective and to top it, there’s a huge sunroof too. All these factors mean one more thing; they translate into brilliant visibility from the sides of the cabin. However, what weakens the visibility from the front windscreen is the placement of the dash a tad higher than needed. Even though the Beetle makes do with a height adjustable seat for the driver, we may find vertically challenged buyers a bit inconvenienced on this front.


      Grab the steering and you will appreciate the bulges for the palm and the sporty feel of the flat bottom-end. You’ll agree that the steering wheel is slightly thinner and larger in diameter than what we’d have wanted. Interiors have been extensively reworked over the outgoing model and now all the buttons are easily accessible, and there’s also a touchscreen system sitting higher up on the centre console.


      Though the quality of most of the interiors are up to the mark, and feel retro too; there are a few gripes like the inferior quality of plastic seen on the dash and door pads which could rather have been finished with a soft touch. Plus, the special retro excitement is slightly dampened when you see components like power window switches, the instrument cluster and air-con controls being used from the ordinary VW car parts bin.


      Driving the Beetle will get you to appreciate the front seats which offer adequate support over long distances and also hold you in place effectively. However, the rear seats are a totally different story and can be occupied only by children or those extra shopping bags and accessories you need immediate access to. While the boot can swallow up to 310 litres, you’ll have to watch out for the sharp rake design of the boot lid from frisking your hard baggage. It should not be a concern as the space can be bumped up further by folding the rear seats.


      Performance Drive

      VW is offering the Beetle in India with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine that comes from the VW EA211 engine family. It’s the same motor that is seen powering the Skoda Octavia and the VW Jetta. This engine is capable of belting 148bhp and spins out a healthy 250Nm of torque through the seven-speed DSG transmission. When on the road, the torque begins to flow in at 1,500rpm and you will notice the linear manner in which the engine responds to driver throttle inputs. The mid-range feels extremely strong and there’s enough pep in the motor to pull cleanly all the way to the 6,200 redline.


      This brings us to the DSG gearbox on the Beetle that has three modes – D, S, and Manual. D is programmed to shift to the appropriate gear to maximise fuel efficiency, which also means that you will have to wait for the gearbox to downshift if you want an immediate surge of power. S mode will hold on to the lowest gear so that you will have crisp responses whenever needed, however that makes every shift a spirited one. And that brings us to the Manual mode which shifts when you want to and is quite frankly, the best place to be.


      We recorded the Beetle’s sprint to 100kmph and it was accomplished in just 8.9sec. Though quick by hatchback standards, the segment contender – Mini Cooper S is a whole lot quicker. In fact, it is a full 2 sec faster than the Beetle and this is what brings us to the next most important thing. Maybe VW should’ve gotten India the 2.0-litre Beetle! Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that the 1.4-litre motor is a very smooth and silent TSI. We did see that this engine tends to get noisier after 5,000rpm.


      Ride quality is simply brilliant and we were in for a pleasant surprise after driving the Beetle. Our highway blasts revealed that the Beetle felt well-planted and it impressed us with the silent, flat and absorbent ride. Its only when speeds fell that the car began to show a slight stiffness over bigger undulations but it always feels comfortable. What brings an even bigger smile to your face is when you learn that the Beetle’s ground clearance makes a no-brainer out of almost every kind of speed breaker. While the steering is mostly accurate and feels well weighted, we would have appreciated better feedback as it tends to feel numb around the dead centre. This also means that it’s not very confidence inspiring for spirited driving around tight bends.


      Tech Specs

      Make Volkswagen
      Model Beetle
      Fuel Petrol
      Variant 1.4 TSI
      Engine Capacity 1.4-litre
      Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 148 @ 5000
      Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 250 @ 1500
      Gears  Seven-speed DSG
      Length mm 4278
      Width mm 1808
      Height mm 1486
      Wheelbase mm 2524
      Fuel Capacity (in litres) 55
      Tyre size 215 / 60 R16


      Engine start/stop button Yes
      The 1.5-litre TDCi engine that now produces 98bhp and 205Nm of torque  Yes
      Climatronic' dual-zone air-con Yes
      Driver, front passenger, combined curtain and side airbag system  Yes
      ABS, Hill Hold, ESP Yes
      Touchscreen system with USB, Aux-in, Bluetooth and eight speakers Yes
      Bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights (DRL)  Yes
      Vienna leather seats Yes
      Front and rear parking sensors with acoustic warning Yes

      Competition All Specs

      Specifications Volkswagen
      Variant 1.4 TSI Cooper S
      Fuel Petrol Petrol
      Engine Capacity 1.4-litre 2.0-litre
      Max. Power (bhp@rpm) 148 @ 5000-6000 189 @ 4700
      Max. torque (Nm@rpm) 250 @ 1500-3500 282 @ 1250
      Gears  Seven-speed DSG Six-speed automatic
      Length mm 4278 3821
      Width mm 1808 1727
      Height mm 1486 1414
      Wheelbase mm 2524 2495
      Fuel Capacity (in litres) 55 44
      Tyre size 215 / 60 R16 195/55 R16


      When you look at the whole equation, the Beetle has an asking price of Rs 28.7 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) and that’s a lot of dough for a hatchback; a lot even for an iconic one. Sure, the only gripe are some shadowy bits on the interior, but how iconic does it really feel to you? Since that’s the reason why you’re plonking so much money to buy one. You’ll get heads to turn but to put things in perspective, the Mini Cooper S feels more special, more exclusive and is a whole lot more fun to drive. We believe that you would buy the Beetle over everything else if you are a die-hard VW Beetle fan and wanted to stand out from the regular crowd. And you surely would!


      Photo Courtesy By : Kapil Angane

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