volkswagen beetle review after all these years the bug still turns heads
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Volkswagen Beetle review: After all these years, the Bug still turns heads

The green gives the Volkswagen Beetle a new vibe. Just enough to carry on until VW pulls the plug on this generation's Bug. Get it while it is still new

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

19 Mar 2018


It’s the colour, isn’t it? Yes, I am sure it is the colour that’s turning people’s head. The colour is called Bottle Green and to a certain extent resembles the colour of the bottle that holds a certain fun, fizzy and foaming beverage. And the colour does seem to give the Beetle a splash of fresh.

All cards on the table; this Volkswagen Beetle isn’t new. Fundamentally, this is the same Beetle that was launched about seven years ago and the likelihood it getting a facelift anytime soon is near zero.

Here, the Beetle finds itself in a unique position for it needs to have a design that transcends time. As points of reference, the original lasted 65 years and the New Beetle was in production for 13 years. So, in Beetle-years, seven would probably be the time that it starts forming a pupa.

From the pupa comes a Beetle with enough cosmetic enhancements, like the front bumper, which shows you’re in the latest car. I am driving the Volkswagen Beetle with the Sport package that swaps out the halogen headlights for Bi-Xenon units with LED daytime running lights. What I wish is here is the rear wing that sits just below the rear windscreen because it comes to bug me later.

The Sport package also gives the interior new kicks. Dual-zone air-conditioning, paddle shifters, front sports seats with height and lumbar support and leather upholstery are included in the list. Perhaps, the highlight here is the multimedia that got upgraded from a teensy-weensy thing to a more acceptable system complete with a 6.5-inch touchscreen monitor, is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/MirrorLink ready and hooked up to eight-speakers thoughtfully places around the interior.

Yet, in spite it all, the Beetle box remain the best interior feature of the Beetle — then and now. The Beetle box has enough depth to allow a Smart Tag to be laid down flat, which complements nicely with the glove box and a storage space in the movable armrest.

Although the Beetle is really a two-door coupe, there’s ample space in the rear that will swallow a road bike flat, with the front wheels off and the rear seats folded, of course. Rear passengers also won’t have much to complain, given that the leg room available is very much like what the Golf offers.

At least your passengers will be comfortable enough to not constantly ask if the destination is around the corner because under the arched hood is the least powerful engine a Beetle can have. Not to say that the 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is underpowered, it just feels like a naturally aspirated car when accelerated hard. Into the front wheels goes 104hp and 175Nm of torque so adjust your 0-100kph expectations accordingly. Ah, but why do you need it to go fast when the Beetle looks hipper going at its own pace.

Interestingly enough, Volkswagen records the Beetle’s top speed at 180kph. Here’s where I wish that there’s some downforce at the back. The Beetle can do fast, there’s no doubt about that, but only up to a certain speed.

Throughout the test period, the tail of this Beetle started to twitch whenever the speedo’s needle goes past 140kph, robbing any sort of confidence that the car can go faster. I wished that the Beetle’s had something, anything to keep the rear planted.

Nevertheless, the Beetle remains a car that is fun to toss around. The steering is quick to respond and will happily handle around any corners you chuck the car into. Flap the steering’s paddle shifters for better transfer of horses to power out of any corners.

To be honest, this isn’t my first rodeo with the Beetle. I have gotten behind the wheel of a pre-production model, and then have driven up and down the scale in terms of engine choices. No matter the engine, the Beetle is a car that is delightful to drive. Which makes it sad to know that Volkswagen will soon pull the plug on the Beetle with no immediate news that its replacement will arrive soon.

So, take a look. Take a very good look at what is really an automotive icon. You’ll want to own a Beetle, everyone does and almost everyone ends up with a pre-loved Bug. But if you want it spanking new, this may well be your last chance of getting one.

Volkswagen Beetle Sport

Engine

1,197cc

4-cyl., direct injection, turbocharged

Transmission

7-speed DSG

Front-wheel drive

Power

104hp @ 5,000-5,500rpm / 175Nm @ 1,400-4000rpm

Performance

180kph top speed, 5.5l/100km (combined)

Price

RM137,620

on-the-road without insurance

Overall Rating

7 Rating

7/10



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