All in the back swing
VW had another go at retro, fitting a sleeker Beetle body to tried and true Golf chassis
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.
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 sevenspeed 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.
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.
A lot to love if retro is your thing — but check DSG thoroughly.