Beetle's juiced with funky styling and sporty engine
NOTHING makes a statement quite like a Volkswagen Beetle, and it’s a car with a strong Irish connection.
In fact, the very first Volkswagen built outside Germany was a Beetle assembled in Ballsbridge back in 1950.
Shipped over from Germany, the cars came more or less flatpacked with instructions, which were duly followed to create one of the most popular cars of all time.
While the Mark 1 Beetle sold in the millions, it was eventually replaced by the more mainstream Golf in most peoples’ affections.
This means the Beetle has had to find itself a new role as a retro tribute, or people who don’t want something ‘mainstream’.
This latest model has been described as more muscular, sporty, and aggressive – which is another way of saying it’s less girly.
There was nothing girly about what was under the hood of our test car either – a 2.0 turbo-charged diesel with 150 brake horse power.
Paired with a silky smooth DSG automatic gearbox, and in the top-of-the-range R-line trim, it was the ultimate Beetle experience.
That level of Beetle doesn’t come cheap, and the total price including options (some wicked 18- inch twister alloys and a panoramic sunroof) comes to €36,500.
One for the hardcore fans perhaps.
It is heaps of fun, though. Its squat body gives it a lower, firmer ride than the Golf and a much sportier feel.
Then, of course, there’s the smile factor you get driving from around in a little yellow retro car.
For those after petrol performance, there’s a 150hp 1.4 TSi, but like the diesel, it’s only available in the R-line trim.
There are more pocket-friendly versions available, however.
The 1.2 TSi petrol starts at under €24,000, and there’s also a less powerful but more affordable 110bhp diesel model.
There are three levels of Beetle to choose from.
The standard one comes well-equipped with air conditioning, cruise control and a five-inch colour media system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. There’s also enough standard safety equipment to earn it a full five star NCAP safety rating.
The Design trim will upgrade the wheels to 16-inch alloys, add a colour-coded interior, a larger touchscreen display and rainsensing window wipers.
The top-spec R-line gets the full R styling treatment.
This includes contrasting mirrors and wheel arches, a rear spoiler and 17-inch wheels.
Inside are sports seats, ambient lighting, parking sensors and dual-zone climate control.
Space in the cabin is good for front seat passengers and is a bright and cheerful place to sit with its colourcoded dash (yellow, in our case) and just the right amount of retro styling.
Depending on perspective, boot space is relatively generous at 310 litres.
That’s not as practical as a Golf, but is quite a bit larger than its retro rivals like the Fiat 500 and MINI.
Space in the rear is slightly restricted due to the shape, and two seat belts means it’s strictly a fourseater.
It’s also only available with two doors, meaning it’s not going to work as a family wagon.
But that’s not the Beetle’s market, and it’s gone from the ‘people’s car’ to more of a statement car.
It may not be a cheap one to make, but nothing combines retro styling and modern performance quite like it.
Watch our review of the R-Line Beetle on the CarsIreland YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/ carsirelanddotie