Of course your servant has owned one, or as a matter of fact, actually two. The first one, with the small rear window, was bought from writer and columnist Johan Anthierens, who had learned the journalistic profession from my father. The car cost me...500 Belgian francs, or some 12 (!) Euro.
It never let me down, and it was then replaced by a big rear window beetle, but still with the undestructible 30 horsepower engine and manual choke. It too never missed a beat.
Needless to say that a beetle is still in my garage, albeit in France, a black “new beetle” roadster.
So it is no surprise that I greeted the test car here with emotion. Some of the original (roof) lines are back, the dashboard bears also a few reminiscenses of the original. And then the sound.
The engineers have succeeded in giving it the deep growl of the boxer when it accelerates at full throttle. Of course the developed power is light years ahead of the original. Indeed, the true "Beetle feeling" is back, but this time with force...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Stepping into the car one is enveloped by some of the original cabin feeling of the VW. The dash is upright, and a large speedometer stares at you. This was no different more than 50 years ago.
Similar to the original Beetle, the new car has an extra glovebox ("Beetle box") integrated in the front facia whose lid folds upward . The standard glovebox sits below it and opens downward.
Another classic feature: the auxiliary instruments above the selected audio/navigation system: oil temperature, clock with chronometer function and boost pressure gauge.
The original seats were not that bad, if i recall. They have improved of course, and the seating position can now be adjusted a lot better. In our test car, they could be adjusted electronically. There is also more room in the rear, also compared to the previous “new beetle.” We rediscover a lot of the now very familiar VW ergonomics, and we must admit, we like it. Starting the engine, we were delighted to hear the familiar throb of an efficient boxer engine, and what's more, the engine sound seemed to come only from the back.
The engineers truly surpassed themselves on the exhaust and mechanical acoustics of the car, they did a truly fantastic job, as the engine is simply an inline four, and sits in front...
Smooth and powerful, engineered with precision.
The original gearchange was not bad either, I remember being able to make some lightning fast gearchanges, which one needed of course when brisk acceleration was called for with only 30 PS at the wheels. But then again, the DSG 6 speed gearbox of our test car puts you light years ahead. Utterly smooth and making very fast and virtually imperceptible gear changes, this box continues to amaze us time and again. Actually, every VW (and other cars of the group) should come with it. It is of course the heavy duty 6-speed version of the DSG box, less powerful versions can be had with the 7-speed DSG version.
It is totally up to the impressive torque and power of the 200 hp engine, which is an engineering marvel in itself.
Indeed, this four cilinder two litre breathes state-of-the art solutions. It is actually the well known 2 litre engine from the Golf GTI.
We already told you about its marvelous acoustics, but there is more... The torque is very impressive with 280 Nm being available from 1800 rpm.. The engine is thanks to the clever gearchange programme quite frugal when driven sedately in town. We achieved figures in the region of 6 to 7 litres, with the engine remaining in very low rev ranges of course. But things really start happening when you floor the throttle a bit. The deep throb sets in, and the Beetle really surges ahead. Under a beautiful boxer-like staccato, 0 to 100 is achieved in merely 7.5 seconds, and of course, at higher speeds, the Beetle is a true "Autobahnmeister". The concept of "Vollgasfest" became actually commonplace with the original Beetle: the car could be driven permanently flat out on the German motorways, which only the fewest cars could do at the time...
In theory you can do the same with the Beetle, but then only on totally deserted German tarmac, as the Beetle is 225 km fast... and this is even an electronically limited top speed!
Needless to say the Beetle is a true grand tourer, being comfortable and having excellent road manners; The new platform and suspension gives the Beetle precise cornering.
The car remains quite firmly sprung, even more so with the sports suspension. So mind the potholes. The larger alloy wheels and low profile tyres makes the ride even stiffer, but never truly uncomfortable. Our test car had the XDS electronic differential lock which is designed to improve cornering and aid traction, preventing wheelspin. Even in the wet, the Beetle remained controllable and predictable.
As the car offers 4 adults have plenty of space, and the boot handling up to 905 litres of luggage, the car is iedeal also for longer journeys. Our test car had a Fender sound system, which entertains you beautifully during the drive. It sounded formidable indeed with our favourite Jazz music…
Are we completely sold on this one? Yes we are, and we are anxiously awaiting further test drives with some more sedate (Diesel) versions, just to taste the delightful driving experience of this Beetle one again…
Hans Knol ten Bensel