The necessity for the first Volkswagen Beetle sprang from Adolf Hitler’s need for a low-cost, uncomplicated car that could be mass-produced for German roadways. And take a look at where this classic vehicle has ended up in history. Though today’s Beetle is no longer the ‘Peoples Car,’ VW recognises this and has properly accorded it the status of a highly decorated officer for its contributions to VW’s 60-year history. So, for those of you who were born recently, you can either swoon over it or keep reading to learn why you should pay Rs 28.7 lakh for one.
All it takes is one glance to fix your gaze on the new Beetle. VW’s designers did an excellent job of fusing elements from the original classic design with this modern makeover. It appears to be stretched backwards, don’t you think? So you get the curving exterior lines all around – I’m talking about the bonnet, enormous wheel arches, headlights, and even the sloping roofline. The bug look is really noticeable and attracts a lot of attention, especially from females.
Hold on to your guns; if you thought this was a ‘girl’ automobile, you may want to reconsider. Because of the more muscular lines, VW predicts that the new Beetle will be able to attract more macho buyers than the outgoing model. We disagreed, and with the dominating curves, tighter than usual automobile dimensions, and that oh-so-serious spoiler slapped on, it’s still a long way from being manly. Overall, the car has an amazing posture, and VW deserves credit for creating the car’s impression of desirability.
When you look inside the car, the dashboard is the first thing that catches your eye. It was created with the original avatar in mind, and the present avatar is a fantastic blend of the old and new. So there’s a duplicate of the original glovebox, as well as exterior paint shade matching panels on the dash and doors. Even though the handle to open the fashionable glovebox is a little fidgety to work, you can always switch to the second glovebox beneath it.
On a two-door automobile like this, frameless doors have a certain allure. When you open them, you’ll notice the airy atmosphere, which is mostly owing to the B-pillarless cabin, which gives the impression of extra space. Increased proportions may now be seen in context, and there’s also a large sunroof. All of these characteristics add up to excellent visibility from all sides of the cabin. The location of the dash a tad higher than necessary, on the other hand, reduces visibility from the front windscreen. Despite the fact that the Beetle’s driver’s seat is height adjustable, vertically challenged purchasers may be inconvenienced on this front.
When you grab the steering wheel, you’ll like the palm bulges and the athletic feel of the flat bottom-end. You’ll notice that the steering wheel is a little thinner and has a greater circumference than we’d like. The interiors have been completely redesigned over the previous generation, and all of the buttons are now conveniently accessible, as well as a touchscreen system mounted higher on the centre console.
Though most of the interiors are of good quality and feel nostalgic, there are a few niggles, such as the poor grade of plastic on the dash and door pads, which might have been treated with a soft touch instead. Furthermore, when you see components like power window switches, the instrument cluster, and air-conditioning controls being borrowed from the usual VW car parts bin, the nostalgic enthusiasm is little reduced.
Driving the Beetle will make you appreciate the front seats, which provide ample support and efficiently hold you in position over long distances. The back seats, on the other hand, are a different storey, and can only be used by children or those extra shopping bags and accessories you need right away. While the boot can hold up to 310 litres, the sharp rake shape of the boot lid will frisk your hard luggage. It shouldn’t be an issue because the room may be increased even further by folding the back seats.
Driven by Results
In India, Volkswagen offers the Beetle with a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine from the VW EA211 engine family. It’s the same engine that powers the Skoda Octavia and the Volkswagen Jetta. The seven-speed DSG transmission transmits 148bhp and 250Nm of torque from this engine. When driving on the road, the torque begins to flow at 1,500rpm, and you’ll note how the engine responds to driver throttle commands in a linear manner. The powertrain has enough energy to pull neatly all the way to the 6,200 redline, and the mid-range feels exceptionally robust.
This leads us to the Beetle’s DSG transmission, which has three modes: D, S, and Manual. D is programmed to shift to the proper gear to maximise fuel efficiency, which means that if you want a quick surge of power, you’ll have to wait for the gearbox to downshift. S mode keeps you in the lowest gear for rapid answers anytime you need them, but it makes every shift a lively one. That gets us to Manual mode, which allows you to change whenever you want and is, quite honestly, the best place to be.
We timed the Beetle’s sprint to 100 kmph, which took only 8.9 seconds. Despite being speedy by hatchback standards, the segment leader — the Mini Cooper S – is far faster. It is, in fact, a full 2 seconds faster than the Beetle, which leads us to the next most crucial point. Maybe VW should have gotten the 2.0-liter Beetle for India! Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the 1.4-litre TSI is a very smooth and quiet engine. We did notice that after 5,000 rpm, this engine became noisier.
The ride quality is outstanding, and we were pleasantly surprised after driving the Beetle. Our highway blasting proved that the Beetle was well-planted, and the quiet, level, and absorbing ride impressed us. The car only shows a small stiffness over larger undulations as speeds drop, but it always seems comfortable. What puts a bigger grin to your face is learning that the Beetle’s ground clearance makes practically every type of speed breaker a no-brainer. While the steering is generally accurate and well-weighted, we would have like more feedback, as it feels numb at the dead centre. This also means that it’s not very reassuring to drive spiritedly around tight corners.
When you consider everything, the Beetle costs Rs 28.7 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), which is a lot of money for a hatchback, even if it is a legendary one. Sure, the sole flaw is some gloomy interior elements, but how iconic does it feel to you? Because that’s why you’re spending so much money to get one. You’ll turn heads, but the Mini Cooper S feels more special, more exclusive, and is a lot more fun to drive. If you are a die-hard VW Beetle enthusiast who wants to stand out from the crowd, we feel you would choose the Beetle over everything else. And you most certainly would!