The very first car I ever drove by myself was a VW Beetle with a 4-speed manual transmission in the floor. Heck, it may have been a 3-speed now that I think of it.
The Beetle has always held a special place in my heart; you never forget the first car you ever drove.
Therefore, I was excited to have the 2012 VW Beetle this week. No longer called the “New Beetle”, this third-generation VW holds many aspects of the classic Beetle, but at the same time, you can tell from a mile away it is a “bug”.
To attract a broader audience, especially men-who have traditionally stayed away from the Beetle-VW made the car 3-inches wider, a half-inch lower, and a very noticeable 6-inches longer. Gone is the arched roof and in its place is a flat roof. This design allows for a panoramic sliding glass sunroof that is operated by a switch in the interior. And clearly just for the guys, the 2.5-liter comes with some really sharp 18” alloy wheels.
If you open the rear lid to see the engine, you will find it is not there. Unlike Beetles produced until 1998, the new generation is a front engine, front-wheel drive. Under the hood you will find a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine putting out 170-horses. There is an available 2.0-liter in-line 4-cylinder turbo that produces 30 additional horses. Both engines come with a 6-speed automatic transmission at this time, but a manual will be offered later.
Inside the car is striking as soon as you open the door. You see many hints of the original Beetle, but with contrasting colors. Three large, round gauges make it easy to see your speed, fuel, rpm, and all the other info you might need. Like the original, there are two glove boxes on the passenger side, and a center armrest between the front seats that is adjustable. Back seat room is limited, but front seat room is very good and the head room in the car is pretty amazing. Ambient lighting shines throughout the car and can be changed to suit the color of your mood.
Driving impressions are extremely positive. This car drives great, handles extremely well, and is noticeably quiet inside. Cornering and stopping are both precise, something I have never said or thought about a Beetle in the past.
The package on my test Beetle has a terrific navigation system, the Fender Premium audio system with 400 watts of power, keyless access and push-button start, and bi-xenon headlights. Standard equipment includes power windows, power door locks, and steering wheel controls.
This new VW Beetle has an amazing amount of trunk space, and VW used all 15.4 cubic feet of space wisely. With the back seats folded down, that amount doubles, and a really cool feature is to open the trunk on the outside, you push the VW emblem on the trunk itself.
I drive a lot of cars, most are expensive, some are exotic, many of them are considered to be luxury cars. I’ll tell you though; this car is a hoot to drive and gets more looks than a lot of cars costing three times the amount this one does.
Within a year, you will be able to get this car in a convertible model, as well as the famous VW TDI diesel, which I predict will be a huge hit.
VW did an outstanding job of preserving the heritage of this car, but at the same time giving it a modern adaptation. VW did this one right.
What I liked most: Looks, drive quality, and there is no flower vase.
What I would change: I would want automatic headlamps as standard.
MSRP: Unclear at this writing, I did not get a window sticker. This package, including the panoramic roof and navigation system is $25,195.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 22 city/30 highway, actual mileage 23/32.
Fun Fact: The original Beetle sold 21.5 million vehicles, making it the most popular car manufactured off a single platform.
2012 Beetle in a few words: A super enjoyable car for everyone.
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