Fun to drive yet practical as well

VW Beetle

VW Beetle

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BIGGER and more efficient than its predecessor, the latest Volkswagen Beetle might not look quite so extrovert but it’s a far better car.

Does it have the sheer showroom presence to make sales though? That’s the acid test, and it does.

As with virtually every midrange vehicle launched these days, the Beetle offers more space with better efficiency. The engines slated for British buyers have been neatly downsized. Nowadays, we get a 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI. Next up is the 158bhp 1.4-litre TSI and the range-topper is the 197bhp 2.0 TSI, which uses the same engine seen in the Golf GTI. There’s only one diesel engine offered, a 104bhp 1.6-litre with BlueMotion Technology.

The Beetle is also built to be one of the safest cars on the road thanks not only to features such as standard ESP and six airbags but also a laser-welded and galvanised body structure. In addition the range-topping engine, the 2.0-litre 197bhp, will feature standard XDS electronic differential lock as fitted to the Golf GTI. This guarantees strong traction out of corners. Volkswagen claims 0-62mph in 7.5sec for the 2.0-litre FSI, which is just 0.6sec slower than the 44kg lighter Golf GTi. Top speed is quoted at 139mph. An all-new electro-mechanical steering system also helps improve accuracy.

The Beetle is in fact one of the most difficult cars on the market to offer an objective review on. The reason? Most customers care very little about its statistics, its engineering or its driving characteristics. They’ll make their minds up on how cool it looks and then check that the price isn’t exorbitant. If it satisfies those two criteria, it’ll sell.

The Beetle now offers something more than a mere style statement. Even once the novelty of the looks have worn off, buyers will be rewarded with a car that’s fun to drive and reasonably practical too.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Volkswagen Beetle

PRICES: £16,600-£23,805

INSURANCE GROUP: 10-24

CO2 EMISSIONS: [1.6 diesel] 112g/km

PERFORMANCE: [2.0 TSI] 0-60 7.3s / top speed 139mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.6 diesel] (combined) 65.7mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Electronic stability control, ABS with brake assist, twin front and side, knee and curtain airbags

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4278/1808/1486

WHO TO SEE: Corkills, Wallgate, Wigan, or call 0845 0341435.