All in the back swing

VW had another go at retro, fit­ting a sleeker Bee­tle body to the tried and true Golf chas­sis

Mercury (Hobart) - Cars Guide - - USED CAR -

NEW

THERE’S no dis­put­ing the orig­i­nal Bee­tle’s place in his­tory — it’s a much-loved clas­sic, es­pe­cially so with VW en­thu­si­asts. How­ever, as VW found out when it built the retro Bee­tle, re­viv­ing past glo­ries of­ten means risk­ing fail­ure.

VW launched the new Bee­tle in 2000 amid much hype. To be fair, it was never in­tended to be a main­stream model — but it’s also fair to say that it didn’t live up to the hype.

Un­de­terred, VW de­cided to go again in 2013 with another “new” Bee­tle, also based on the then cur­rent Golf plat­form.

It looked sim­i­lar to the pre­vi­ous model but with new and sleeker lines it still stood out from the reg­u­lar crowd.

It was still a two-door hatch, which lim­ited its ap­peal. It was fine for young sin­gles, cou­ples with­out kids and older types un­bur­dened by chil­dren and want­ing to in­dulge them­selves. For any­one else it was im­prac­ti­cal.

Once you were aboard the cabin was roomy for four with de­cent head and legroom but rear ac­cess was awk­ward, even with the wide doors.

The sole vari­ant came with a host of stan­dard fea­tures in­clud­ing Blue­tooth, mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheel, du­al­zone cli­mate-con­trol air­con, cruise con­trol, front and rear park sen­sors, auto wipers and re­mote ac­cess.

This Bee­tle also ben­e­fited from the step-up in tech­nol­ogy since the first it­er­a­tion in 2000.

Power came from a 1.4-litre four-cylin­der with a su­per­charger to boost low-end per­for­mance and a tur­bocharger to take over as the revs climbed.

Peak out­puts were 118kW/ 240Nm so it had plenty of grunt all the way through the rev range. Based as it was on the Golf the Bee­tle steered, braked and han­dled well, as you would ex­pect.

Most buy­ers went for the seven-speed dual-clutch auto op­tion but if you in­sisted you could have a six-speed man­ual.

NOW

Own­ers of the first-edi­tion new Bee­tle had lots to com­plain about, par­tic­u­larly build qual­ity prob­lems and re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues.

But those who bought the more re­cent ver­sion tell a dif­fer­ent and much hap­pier tale.

They like the per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy of the 1.4-litre twin-charge en­gine and praise the ride and han­dling.

Im­por­tantly they don’t re­port any prob­lems with the seven-speed DSG trans­mis­sion, which was a com­mon is­sue for own­ers of ear­lier cars.

Be­fore hand­ing over your cash for a Bee­tle with the DSG, it’s wise to thor­oughly test drive it and put it through its paces. watch­ing for shud­der­ing, hes­i­tant shift­ing or any­thing that seems odd.

Work­ing as it should the gear­box should take off with­out hes­i­ta­tion and shift smoothly. If you’re not sure about what to watch for, have it driven by a me­chanic who is fa­mil­iar with the gear­box.

Reg­u­lar main­te­nance is vi­tal to good on­go­ing health with all cars, and the Bee­tle is no ex­cep­tion. Check the ser­vice record to make sure pre­vi­ous own­ers haven’t skimped on main­te­nance.

The fac­tory says the Bee­tle should be ser­viced ev­ery 15,000km.

VW en­gines com­monly use oil, some more than oth­ers. It’s not nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem but it’s a good idea to reg­u­larly check the oil level and top it up as needed. If it seems to use a lot of oil, get it checked.

OWN­ERS SAY

Rex Robin­son We have a 2014 Bee­tle and all is go­ing well. The 1.4-litre goes like crazy, the seven-speed DSG is smooth, and the fuel econ­omy is great. As we are only a cou­ple it has plenty of room for our needs. My only com­plaint is the ser­vic­ing cost. Nick Adams My wife and I have done 100,000km in our Bee­tle and to date it has been ut­terly re­li­able. It drives well, han­dles nicely and is quiet on the road. Owen Wil­son I was scep­ti­cal at first but was sold the mo­ment I test drove the Bee­tle. It’s a great car. The build qual­ity is ex­cel­lent, han­dling ex­cep­tional and the ride smooth.

SMITHY SAYS

A lot to love if retro is your thing — but check DSG thor­oughly.

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