2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle
2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle
2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

The day we picked up the Volkswagen Super Beetle I was instantly enamoured, geeking out over the funky “Turbo” decal (decals are worth like 15 hp, everyone knows that), the vibrant red interior accents, and the integrated rear spoiler.

The detractors popped up instantly, Jonathan Yarkony and Jeff Wilson laughed at me mercilessly, probably because they were picking up the Audi R8 at the same time and found my little Super Beetle meek in comparison. One forum member called it a “misshapen GTI”. I didn’t mind, my chance in the R8 would come, but for now I had a cheeky new friend that wanted to play with me.

And this car is nothing but fun. Misshapen Golf GTI? More like a Golf GTI’s more interesting younger cousin. If you hired a band for your wedding, the GTI would be the crooner singing deeply serious songs in a glorious tremulous voice – the Super Beetle would do the same, but stop halfway to help Grandma Doreen do the Birdie dance as well. It’s a Golf GTI with a sense of humour injection.

A lot of people loathed Volkswagen’s attempt at the retro bandwagon originally. It was too big, the engine was in the wrong end and the car looked too dorky to be cute. Since then VW has flattened, widened and toughened the styling – and with the Super Beetle it really pays off.

The 19-inch Tornado alloys, two-tone rear spoiler and the dramatic black grille really set this car off, and the Turbo decals down either side are some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen. The deep flare of the wheel arches and side skirts, sharp creases in the body mouldings, plus the elliptical, LED-lined headlights give this car a striking appearance I liked more every time I looked at it.

2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle
2013 Volkswagen Super Beetle. Click image to enlarge

The interior is beautifully done, too. From the three-dial cluster on top of the dash to the flat-bottomed wheel, metal racing pedals and dramatic red seat inserts, this thing screams “I am so fun! Drive me, drive me more!”

The retro look is carried over with the two-tier glovebox, which correlates directly to the original and the 1950s-wireless look of the in-dash infotainment system.  The cheerful persona is maintained each time you start the car (with a push button of course) and the dashboard announces, “Welcome to your Beetle!”

In a nutshell, the Super Beetle is the most charming, engaging and delightful car I’ve ever driven. And if you think that opinion is based purely on interior and exterior styling you’d be very much mistaken.

The Golf GTI has a cult following for its hot-hatch performance chops.  The Beetle comes with the same 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder delivering 207 lb-ft of torque but in the Super Beetle you get 10 more horses – 210 hp plays 200.

Both have fully independent suspension front and rear with stabilizer bars, but at 1,546 mm and 2,537 respectively, the Super Beetle has a wider rear track and a shorter wheelbase than the Golf’s 1,514 and 2,578. That makes it considerably more stable mid-corner and gives it better turn-in. It was only chasing the R8 around an off-ramp that I was able to notice the miniscule body roll in the Super Beetle. It corners flatter than a two-day-old beer.

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