I’ve learnt over the week, after spending some time with the modern icon to never judge a Beetle by its juice. People have called it soft, girly, queer and all but it is not until you make acquaintance with the bug, especially in its latest incarnation that you can begin to appreciate how special the new, old coupe really is. But other than the obvious nostalgia, how does it fare in real life, you ask? now that it is powered by a microscopic 1.2L turbo engine?
The Beetle had always resembled an abled young boy with a silhouette of an old man, surprisingly even more so in their latest iteration. The first gen New Beetle managed to reignite the iconic Bug with its funky cloud shaped body, fun colours and neat cockpit which was perfect for young owners. This current one however has aged considerably in looks, especially with its chrome bits and somewhat saggy assets. Nevertheless, it is distinctively Beetle and the body shape remain special till today. Also, there’s is a lot more soul here to savour than any mainstream VW variant.
2018 VW BEETLE 1.2 TSI Sport
Engine: 1,197 cc Turbo 4cylinder 8-valve SOHC direct fuel injection
Power: 103 hp at 5,000 rpm
Torque: 175 Nm at 1,550 rpm
Zerotohundred: 10.9 seconds
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (dry)
Wheelbase: 2,537 mm
Length: 4,278 mm
Width: 1,808 mm
Height: 1,486 mm
Weight: 1,297 kg
Price: RM136,888 (Design Edition) / RM147,888 (Sport Edition)
The strong retro theme is felt all throughout its interior. I especially adore the colour coded interior panels that run along the doors and the dash. In this case they’re painted in luscious Bottle Green, matching the exterior body colour. I love the fact they retained the retro feel and that there are more painted panels to detail with my rather extensive range of Meguair’s products. Although it doesn’t look anywhere as sexy as the obvious choices being offered today, the Beetle is a true coupe. There are backseats to house occupants but you should only reserve that for kids or small adults. The airy roof of the Bug favour front occupants and does cut in to the headroom of rear passengers. Put simply, the Beetle is best suited for trendy young owners or couples.
I’m impressed by the mature attitude as expressed by the Beetle. In the city, it retains a supple ride and trots through indecent roads with grace. The flat bottomed steering is a joy to grasp and even sweeter to operate in town. Non of its bodacious body and bulbous fenders affect its maneuverability in the narrow crevices of city traffic and car parks.
In fact, I feel great commuting in the Beetle at every KM traveled. It’s as though the bug emit good vibes when driven as opposed to the more conventional, mainstream cars of today. The 7 speed dry DSG is yet again faultless and enables the Beetle to milk its 1.2L engine better. Every shift is super precise, albeit a little conservative in default, prioritising the higher gears rather too early. Sport mode does cure the lag in general but in truth, the Beetle is best driven alongside the paddle shifters.
Suspension is very well sorted surprisingly, for a Beetle. On city roads the ride is firm and yielding. The huge tyres and smallish wheels may look a tad crude from the outside, adding on to the dated look but does an amazing job at matching with its perfectly damped suspension. Even on the highways, it continues to stay flat and planted at speed as tested en route to Genting Highlands via the undulating strips of Karak. There’s nothing sporty about the Beetle in this case but in a car as unassuming as this one, I found the ride to be mature and somewhat plush, almost like an executive sedan.
It can feel like a chore when starting off the line in the Beetle especially when you’re in a rush as it hunts for the needed torque to get a move on, but does get up to speed decently quick. There is a potential squirm / shake every time the Beetle takes off from zero and more apparent when cold. This is likely a inherent character of the small 1.2L TSI turbo engine, but fortunately does disappear quickly as it gets a move on. Other than the fraction of a second lag at take off, I am thoroughly impressed with its power delivery in general.
Nope, the 1.2TSI Beetle is not what one would call swift or quick but manages to sprint well when coupled with the use of paddle shifters, which makes for an excellent city car and more so on the highways. It is very at home cruising at 140km/h or more. But I like the fact that when the Beetle hit brisk walking speeds, its engine response and acceleration takes on a character just like any decent, modern small engines. I found the go to be similar to more powerful 1.4TSI or even the common 2L NA and it’s hard to tell there’s only 1,200cc worth of displacement to begin with. Other than the rather lazy initial get go, I see no other significant downsides but plentiful joy here in relation to the lean engine. In truth I’m certain the drive experience here beats similarly specced Golf in comparison.