2012 Volkswagen Beetle Sportline. Click image to enlarge
Sending power to this transmission is Volkswagen’s 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque. Saddled in a vehicle weighing just 1,401 kg, the Beetle features some serious forward thrust. Well, that is once the turbos spool up, as the motor does exhibit some initial turbo lag as mentioned earlier. Like the GLI with which it shares many components, the Beetle Turbo has a sound tube that pipes engine noise from the intake to the cabin. Clever tuning has produced an engine note that falls somewhere in between the rumble of a Subaru boxer-four and the growl of an Audi five-cylinder motor. But rest assured, those not interested in engine noise will be pleased to hear that the engine is nearly quiet, spinning 2,300 rpm as it motors down the road at 120 km/h.
The Beetle handles very well for a compact front-wheel-drive vehicle, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is great. It is not possible to disable the traction control from the driver’s seat, which hampers spirited driving. Fast corner exits are slowed down when the generous torque from the 2.0L turbo slips the front tires and activates the traction control. As well, the chassis is so sorted out that I felt almost isolated from how well the car can actually handle corners. During our Funky Front-Wheel Drive Turbo Comparison Test, the Beetle wouldn’t even break a sweat through corners where the 500 Abarth and Veloster Turbo were a bit of a handful for their drivers. And, as can be expected, the Volkswagen’s strong point of great steering feel is present and accounted for.
So basically, Volkswagen has kept the driving experience of the previous New Beetle and greatly improved interior function and comfort. But those are both secondary reasons someone will buy a Beetle. If practicality is number one on your list, then the GTI is a no brainer. The Beetle on the other hand is for those who want a bit of style. And here, Volkswagen has done a fabulous job. This Beetle not only looks great, but looks far more like the legendary rear engine Beetle; just in a double-the-size kind of way. The fender flares, rear taillights and headlights all look modern but subtly retro at the same time. Add in the spoiler, dual exhausts and 18-inch rims on my Sportline and it also looks purposeful. The only question that remains is whether this new shape will better attract a new demographic of buyer, or alienate the previous New Beetle buyer who preferred its more cutesy looks.
Pricing: 2012 VW Beetle Sportline
Base price: $30,425
Options: $1,290 (Technology Package), $675 (Connectivity Package)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $33,855
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