Bee­tle is still retro, stylish and fun

Glamorgan Gazette - - Motors Wales - PETER HAY­WARD news­desk@waleson­

THE first series of the rein­car­nated VW Bee­tle built un­til around 2010 was retro, stylish and fun, but it was also hugely im­prac­ti­cal.

It had been de­signed in Cal­i­for­nia, where they don’t have much rain, but when the doors were opened on a wet day, wa­ter dripped onto the seats, and open­ing the hatch made it pour onto the back seat.

Nonethe­less, they were based on the 1997 Golf, and so they were easy to drive and to live with.

The sec­ond series, pro­duced un­til 2016, is more prac­ti­cal and yet still has that retro ca­chet so beloved of many driv­ers.

Again it shares many parts with the Golf and im­proved on the old model with a higher level of stan­dard equip­ment, bet­ter en­gines and much en­hanced prac­ti­cal­ity.

The boot, for ex­am­ple, is a mas­sive 44% big­ger, and space for rear seat pas­sen­gers is vastly im­proved.

They are well-built, com­fort­able and much bet­ter to drive, mak­ing them a re­al­is­tic al­ter­na­tive to more mun­dane hatches.

En­gines range up from a 1.2TSi turbo petrol with 105bhp, to a 1.4 turbo with 125bhp or 150bhp, and a 2-litre with 197bhp and up to 220bhp.

Diesels are the well-known 1.6TDI with 105bhp and the 2-litre with up to 150bhp. The 1.6TDI is the econ­omy cham­pion, man­ag­ing an av­er­age of 66mpg.

Gear­boxes are the stan­dard and very good VW six-speed man­ual, or the ex­cel­lent but ex­pen­sive dual clutch DSG auto.

I have sadly been hear­ing of some ma­jor prob­lems with th­ese early DSGs by the way, in both VW and Skoda mod­els, where the com­pa­nies have not been will­ing to help cover re­place­ment costs run­ning into many thou­sands.

All the en­gines of­fer rea­son­able to ex­cel­lent per­for­mance in the Bee­tle, where even the 1.2TSi cov­ers the 0 to 60mp sprint in 10.4 sec­onds.

A com­pletely re­vised sus­pen­sion sys­tem turns what was quite a ba­sic han­dler into a much more en­joy­able ma­chine.

There’s plenty of grip even when pressed hard, and the bal­ance is as good as that in the Golf. The ex­cel­lent VW group steer­ing is pre­cise and full of feed­back.

Avoid any with large al­loys and sports sus­pen­sion. Th­ese ruin the good ride and can crash and bang over poor sur­faces.

The 1.4 and 2-litre TSI ver­sions are fit­ted with VW’s elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial lock, which im­proves cor­ner­ing and trac­tion by pre­vent­ing wheel­spin.

Small de­tails add in­ter­est and make the cabin stand out from the or­di­nary, like a dash with two glove boxes, elas­ti­cated door pock­ets and drop-down grab han­dles for those in the rear.

The seats are com­fort­able with good ad­just­ment for all sizes, and the steer­ing wheel ad­justs for tilt and reach.

Build qual­ity is gen­er­ally ex­cel­lent and the in­te­rior feels like it will be hard wear­ing.

Pay about £9,000 for a ’13 13-reg 1.2TSi petrol De­sign, or £13,300 for a ’15 15-reg 2.0TDI Blue­mo­tion Tech Sport. Cabri­o­lets cost about £2,000 more.

The Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle Cabri­o­let. The sec­ond series, pro­duced un­til 2016, were more prac­ti­cal but still retro

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