VW Beetle 1.4 TSI Club Edi­tion

Business World - - MOTORING - Brian M. Afuang

IN its present cut the VW Beetle is more rak­ish — mas­cu­line, even — than the model it re­placed (the mostly un­missed New Beetle of 1998-2011). But, like its pre­de­ces­sor, it also shares a lot of its un­der­pin­nings with the VW Golf. While the Golf is cov­eted both as an ap­pli­ance and a source of driv­ing plea­sure though, the Beetle seems it is al­ways re­garded as a fash­ion ac­ces­sory. This isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing.

Styling re­ally is one of the car’s strong­est suits — if not the strong­est. The dark al­loys and body graph­ics worn by the 1.4 TSI Club Edi­tion do not come across as con­trived, al­low­ing for a sporty vibe while fresh­en­ing the Beetle’s seven-year-old looks.

De­cid­edly retro treat­ment of the cabin — dash­board and door pan­els are de­fined by a huge swath of body color-painted sur­faces — is un­clut­tered and in­te­grates mod­ern niceties, like the mul­ti­me­dia unit, cli­mate con­trols and other switches, co­her­ently.

Var­i­ous sys­tems are op­er­ated by tools best suited for a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose — large knobs for the air-con­di­tioner and head lamps, di­als for vol­ume con­trol, but­tons for en­gag­ing mul­ti­me­dia func­tions. Car mak­ers that in­sist users stab re­peat­edly at a touch screen just to ad­just the cabin tem­per­a­ture should learn from the Beetle’s un­com­pli­cated and ef­fec­tive ex­am­ple.

Club Edi­tion raises the lux­ury quo­tient with leather seats.

The 1.4-liter TSI en­gine may be small, but the 157hp it puts out through the use of both a turbo and a su­per­charger means grunt is not only ad­e­quate, but is ac­ces­si­ble through­out the rev range. Help­ing here is VW Group’s seven-speed dual clutch

gear­box, whose abil­ity to row through the gears as im­per­cep­ti­bly as it does makes it the auto in­dus­try stan­dard.

Build qual­ity and con­struc­tion, as ex­pected from a VW, is flaw­less. Ev­ery panel gap is uni­form and tight. Con­trols en­gage se­curely and with solid heft. Fur­ni­ture and trim seem like they will never break.

Ride feels as solid, the suspension and body struc­ture never quiv­er­ing even over bad road sur­faces. The soft suspension set­ting also means the car does not crash over ruts or bumps.

Domed roofline cre­ates mas­sive head­room for front-row oc­cu­pants, large doors let them in and out ef­fort­lessly.

Domed roofline pinches head­room for back­seat oc­cu­pants, large doors don’t re­ally al­low them to get in and out of the car eas­ily. All right, it’s no worse in the Beetle than is the case for most coupes.

Softly sprung suspension causes car to lean no­tice­ably when tak­ing cor­ners quickly. While this is not ex­actly alarm­ing, it does make the car feel sloppy at han­dling speed. Numb elec­tri­cally boosted steer­ing does not help any.

Graph­ics of mul­ti­me­dia unit, while highly leg­i­ble and easy to de­ci­pher, look dated. VW may have gone over­board on the retro thing here. At its price range there are few cars in the mar­ket that can match the Beetle’s solid, Ger­manic feel and bench­mark-set­ting me­chan­i­cals. Even fewer, if any, can match its dis­tinct fash­ion-ac­ces­sory styling. —

DARK al­loys, body graph­ics lead to a sporty vibe while fresh­en­ing the Beetle’s seven-year-old looks.

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