Beetle Sport 1.4-litre TSI 160 PS 6spd manual.
I have a vague recollection of going to see Herbie goes to Monte Carlo at my local two screen cinema in the mid 1970’s. I was old enough even then, to understand that the star of the film a Volkswagen Beetle, could not under normal circumstances compete with the likes of the Porsche 911 in a rally & hope to come out on top. Of course, the Beetle called Herbie has an advantage. It’s actually blessed by being ‘alive’ & is able to use hit’s brain to get the better of the faster more agile cars & winning the race it competes in whilst simultaneously making all the 10 year old kids in the cinema in 1977, want to own a Beetle when they are old enough to drive. However, I never did own one, only driving the Mk2 incarnation about 8 years ago & although this was an impressive interpretation of the Bug, something was missing.
Step forward to 2014 & Volkswagens Press Office sent the new Mk3 Beetle to CCV for us to drive. It was a 1.4 TSi petrol model & straightaway it was clear to see that the new version is chunkier & more masculine than it’s predecessor. The new Beetle is 84mm wider, 12mm lower and 152mm longer than its predecessor. It has an almost 1950’s American Hot Rod look about it & although the engine is in the front, there is still a nod to the Mk1 with an upward-opening glovebox lid paying tribute to the original Bug.
The interior is really classy with nice finishes to the doors & seats as well as a tactile feel to the dashboard itself. The steering wheel is also quite large, another nod to the past & you sit higher in the Beetle with it’s small windscreen than in the MkV! Golf that it’s based on. The flat-bottomed steering wheel looks great with its gloss black trim & the switch gear & multifunction buttons all work well & have that familiar Volkswagen family look.
Space is at a premium in the cabin, especially in the rear due to the sloping roof. There are only two rear seats as well. & to see how tight this is, I my wife & our two teenagers aged 14 & 17 plus our dog, all squeezed in for a half term trip to the SE. By unhooking &removing the boot lid cover, we managed to get all of our luggage in & drove 500 miles quite comfortably in the Beetle. To be fair, we are not a tall family & if any of us was over six foot, it really would have been difficult, so be warned.
Even fully laden the 1.4 TSi 160PS engine performed admirably, especially on the motorway, where I put it into cruise control & let the car do the work. It also handles well around town & the six-sped gearbox works well in it too. It’s no slouch either going from 0-62 mph in just 8.6 seconds with a top speed of 128 mph. Economy is a claimed 41.5 mpg on the combined & to be honest I managed an average of 37.8 mpg so it’s not far out. The downside with the petrol unit is that the CO2 emissions are 158g/km
Safety and security on Volkswagens nowadays is second to none & my Beetle was fitted with ABS, ESP, EDL, ASR, XDS electronic differential lock for improved traction and handling , electronic engine immobiliser; remote central locking; alarm with interior protection , driver’s and front passenger’s airbags with passenger’s airbag deactivation switch , driver’s and front passenger’s combined head & side airbag system, driver and front passenger active head restraints & front fog lights with static cornering function
Equipment is impressive as well, with cruise control , front and rear parking sensors, sports instrument dials , climate control , front sports seats with height and lumbar adjustment, electric windows, electric headlight height adjustment , two 12 V sockets in centre console , Bluetooth telephone preparation , ambient lighting ,electrically heated and adjustable door mirrors in gloss-black with integrated indicators, front centre armrest with storage compartment , height and reach adjustable leather multifunction three-spoke steering wheel with ‘Gloss Black’ inserts; PAS, multifunction computer, touchscreen DAB digital radio/MP3 compatible six-CD autochanger with eight speakers, SD card reader, aux-in socket & an MDI multi-device interface with USB and iPod cables , all coming as standard.
Exterior design features included alloy wheels, anti-theft wheel bolts, rear tailgate spoiler , heat insulating tinted glass 65% light absorbing from B pillar backwards , chrome strip on side window base , ‘Gloss Black’ door protectors with chrome inserts ,body-coloured door handles ,front air intake with chrome-trimmed louvre , body-coloured door sill protection. Whilst inside the Beetle featured body coloured door & dash panels ,‘Ferris’ cloth upholstery, front seatback pockets , leather trimmed gearknob, handbrake grip and steering wheel with body coloured inserts , ‘Gloss Black’ dash and door panels , chrome trimmed air vent surrounds, instrument cluster & radio surround. The Beetle really looks the part.
Additional optional equipment fitted to my test vehicle included, tinted glass – heat insulating rear tinted glass 90% light absorbing from B pillar backwards (£60) , electrically foldable door mirrors (£105) a panoramic sunroof (£985) & metallic paint (£535). I didn’t think that the car needed any of these really, but perhaps could have done with Sat-Nav instead.
Overall, I really rate the Beetle. It looks fabulous, costs just £22,085.00, drives well & is very well built. You get an awful lot of goodies for your money compared to a Golf, although if you need to fit four adults in your car regularly, the Beetle is too small. Still, the Bug does make you feel good & it’s looks alone are guaranteed to put a smile on your face or on those of anyone who saw those Herbie films all those years ago.
A Herbie Rides Again 4/5.