Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle volkswagen car test drives reviews
2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Click image to enlarge

As with all VWs, the major gauges are highly legible featuring a clear, simple font, and all the audio and HVAC controls are easily deciphered. The leatherette seats in this model were comfy although lacked some lateral support, which is the first indication that the hot hatch crowd will be sticking to their GTIs. This car, at least in Premium + trim, is for cruisin’.

The 2.0T turbocharged model with its independent rear suspension might be another story.

It s a very bright and cheery cabin, made more so by the model-specific interior chrome trim package and optional $1,400 panoramic sunroof. The cheer extends to the back seat, which is now perfectly serviceable for two full sized adults – something you could never say for the New Beetle. Additionally, with its more rounded derriere the cargo space is noticeably bigger and the 50/50 split rear seat adds to its utility.

This Beetle Premiere + goes down the road with all the qualities VW drivers appreciate – direct steering feel, good path control and a refined and compliant ride. At 120 km/h it is confident and composed with the five-pot spinning at 2,200 rpm.

The suspension is pretty soft, which seems to suit this car’s mission statement just fine. It’s no GTI in the corners, defaulting to understeer early when you start to push, but up until that point the Beetle is a predictable handler with no vices.

This 2.5-litre five-cylinder isn’t one of VW’s better engines – it’s not particularly refined or fuel efficient – but it does have some character and it feels strong above 3,500 rpm. The six-speed Tiptronic auto (the DSG dual-clutch only comes with the 2.0T) is programmed for maximum fuel economy, upshifting early. Placing the floor shifter in the S detent garners more aggressive shift points, and you can also select gears by tapping the shift lever, but the response is tardy.

Officially rated at 9.5 L/100 city and 7.1 L/100 km highway, I came in at 9.2 L/100 km on mostly highway driving.

So who’s going to buy the Beetle? I’m not entirely sure. The initial feeding frenzy that the New Beetle enjoyed post launch in 1998 certainly won’t happen again as the novelty factor is gone. And with the Mini and Fiat 500 available, the Beetle doesn’t own the Euro-icon-redux niche anymore. As compelling a car as the 2012 Beetle is, the Golf, on which it is based, seats five and is less expensive.

But really, that’s not the point. Those who buy the Beetle will be motivated by passion. As Benjamin Disraeli said, “Man is only great when he acts from passion.” You know who you are.

Pricing: 2012 VW Beetle Premiere +
  • Base price: $26,575
  • Options: $1,400 (Panoramic sunroof)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,365
  • Price as tested: $29,440

    Specifications
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

    Competitors
  • Buyer’s Guide: Fiat 500
  • Buyer’s Guide: Mini Cooper

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)



  • About Peter

    Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).