Driven: 2012 VW Beetle Turbo

It's finally here. The long awaited replacement for the Volkswagen New Beetle is finally hitting dealer lots. And we had the chance to drive one. Our test car was a candy white Launch Edition Turbo. Having driven and owned many of the outgoing New Beetles since 1998, the new 2012 edition is a welcome addition to the VW family. Many of the New Beetle's downfalls have been addressed including size, handling and power.

First thing you notice is the size difference. At first glance, it doesn't appear to be much larger, but the more you look at it, the more apparent it becomes that this isn't the small Beetle of old. You are also drawn to the elongated hood that more closely resembles the original Beetle. One styling cue I am still trying to adjust to, is the squared off front bumper that is part of VW's new design DNA. It just doesn't scream Beetle when you look at it. But who am I to argue? Moving to the side we find one of the best styling cues adapted to the Beetle yet, pillarless doors. They really suit the Beetle's design. The roof, much lower and elongated also carreis a few styling cues from the Beetle of the 1970s. An interesting styling touch is the partial roof panel attached tot the rear hatch. This adds the extra rear seat headroom. Out side, it also carries the roof mounted antenna, carried over from the previous New Beetle. The tail end of the car we find some great styling features. A true dual exhaust system with polished tips. Large, while not round tail lamps do have a few design cues from the past as well. Another nice touch is the addition of the VW emblem/trunk release seen on some other VWs, but never adapted to the previous car. This is a much welcome addition.

Our test car was also equipped with the optional 19 inch wheels wrapped in Continental ContiPro Contacts and the Turbos featured red brake calipers. 4 wheel disc brakes with ABS on all 4 corners. Unlike the previous New Beetle, the 2012 features a new fully independent 4 link rear suspension and a MacPhearson Strut front suspension. A Sport suspension package will be available as an option. The turbo is equipped with a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder that has 200 horse power. Our test car came equipped with the optional 6 speed DSG automatic.

Moving to the interior, you are greeted by deep bolstered sport seats that come standard on the Turbo. The fit and finish of the interior is top notch compared to the VWs of old. I was surprised to find hard surfaces for th top of the dash, but the quality of the materials used are excellent. The new dash layout is excellent, a really nice feature is the body colored door, dash and steering wheel accents that really give the interior some splash. Storage is one thing there is no lack of in the Beetle. My particular favorite storage spot is the "KaferFach" glovebox. It captures the style of the original Beetles dash perfectly. The driving position is suited perfectly as one would expect from a car as sporty as the Beetle. And the flat bottomed steering wheel is an interesting touch. The rear seating area is greatly improved also, additional head and leg room is a big plus, as is the new 50/50 split rear seat vs. the New Beetles solid rear seat back. The trunk area is almost doubled in size. The lower edge of the trunk opening is almost flush with the trunk floor making loading and unloading easier. The rear cargo shelf attaches with string to the rear hatch to lift automatically just as in the Golf/GTIs. Under the trunk floor hides a full size 16 inch spare tire and a full tool kit. Of the entire interior, the only creature comfort missing that I would have liked to see was the addition of a center armrest. Outside of that there were very few.

The driving characteristics are very Volkswagen. Its fun to drive and packs plenty of power and handles like a go cart. We put it through its paces on some twisty roads and were very impressed with the cars characteristics. It stays planted on the road with only a tad of over steer. Performance was brisk in both full automatic and in manual shift modes. There is minor road noise with the windows up thanks to the larger wheels and low profile 235/40R19 Continentals. Cruising around, we managed 23 miles per gallon. While VW rates the 2.0T at 22 City, 30 Highway. In summary, I was very pleased with the new 2012 VW Beetle.

A special thank you goes out to Billco Volkswagen for letting us use of their car for this review.

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