Home' Otago Southland Farmer : January 25th 2013 Contents 25.1.13 Farmer
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Sexy look: A better Beetle for fans.
New Beetle a rich man's car
VW Beetle II
Drivetrain: Transverse front-mounted FWD turbo and supercharged
DOHC 16v 1390cc petrol four. 7-speed DSG transmission.
OUTPUTS: 118kW at 5800rpm, 240Nm at 1500-4000rpm. Max 205kmh,
0-100kmh 8.2 secs, 6.2L/100km, 143g/km CO2.
CHASSIS: Front MacPherson struts, rear torsion beam with trailing
arms. Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering. 18-inch alloy rims.
SAFETY: Front, side and curtain airbags. ESP, Electronic Diff lock, ABS,
ASR (Anti-Skid-Regulation) 5-star NCAP crash rating.
DIMENSIONS: L 4278mm, W 1808mm, H 1486mm, W/base 2537mm,
Weight 1359kg, Fuel 55L, Load 310L seats up, 905L seats down.
PRICING: VW Beetle II TSi $46,500. Various custom trim, chassis and
sound system options available.
HOT: Slicker new look; extra space for people and things; punchy twin-
charged engine; excellent chassis.
NOT: Cheaper starting point and a diesel option would be nice. Shape
aside, not as practical as a Golf VI or VII.
VERDICT: Beetle II addresses all the negative points of its predecessor
and will sell like hot cakes
Don't be too disappointed
that the new Beetle, at
$46,500, is a tad
expensive, for there will
be more affordable versions of the
curvy new Volkswagen available
in due course. Quite when that
will happen is as yet unknown,
though we know that the cabriolet
versions will be available before
the year's end.
It's well known that in the pent-up
world of early adopters who hang
out for new models, the heavily-
equipped range-toppers are the
most desirable. There are owners
of previous New Beetles a dozen
years old and more who have
been waiting for the new car since
the previous one went out of
production two years ago. They'll
be wanting one with all the fruit,
which is exactly what's in the
The new car is fitted standard
with sexy 18-inch alloys, and all
the entertainment and
communication connectivity you
can think of as well as front and
rear radar parking pilot (which
its curvy body really needs),
heated exterior mirrors, leather
steering wheel rim and gear lever,
and more airbags than seats, an
electronic alphabet soup of
chassis and safety aids and an
NCAP crash rating of 5 stars.
If you'd added all that extra fruit
as well as a turbocharged motor
with a seven-speed DSG gearbox
to the previous new Beetle which
sold here for $42,000, you'd be
looking at something well north of
the 2013 model's sticker.
The new car is noticeably larger
than the old one. Being built on
Volkswagen's Golf VI platform, it
has gained 152mm in length and
84mm in width, and sits 12mm
lower on a longer wheelbase and
wider front and rear tracks.
From side-on, the car silhouette is
almost that of a coupe, with one
reader from our website telling
me he thought it looked more like
a gangly relative of the Audi TT
than the almost slavishly
curvaceous 90s design.
For all that, the car has become
somehow closer to that air-cooled
original car, with VW's design
chief Walter da Silva and his team
taking the front screen further
forward and steepening its rake,
while the headrail to tailpipe line
has a more extended curve, rather
than the space-inefficient single
radius of the car's predecessor. It
has to be said that this
remastering of the Beetle theme,
as well as adding space and
practicality, has achieved at least
one other aspect of its design
brief: it appeals a little more to
Options inside include a Fender
(as in Stratocaster) styled and
painted dash, single and two-
toned leather trim ($4200) and, (if
you have another $4200 burning a
hole in your pocket), an
integrated sat-nav system. Now
that the ridiculously deep and
darkly plastic, space-wasting dash
shelf of the old car has been
expunged, the New Beetle design
has created space for people and
their belongings rather than
creating ''style'' for the sake of it.
This third-generation car -- which
is what it is if you count the
clattery air-cooled original as the
first generation -- is called, I'm
advised, the Beetle II, which I
must say does make things easier.
The single power unit available
for our initial Beetles could make
it something of a collector's item.
It's a turbocharged and
supercharged 1.4-litre TSi unit
with a useful 118kW on tap and a
great 240Nm wodge of torque
that's available all the way from
1500 to 4000rpm. Volkswagen
announced that the unit is
deemed as too complex for its
future needs and does not fit in
with the standard engine profile
required for its new MDQ
modular platform system. So after
a year or two, the unit will be
replaced with a simpler, front
inlet, rear-exhaust turbo unit.
It's certainly a delightfully
flexible unit, and it's a darn
shame that it's going, as it always
provides eager, punchy
responses, hauling the 1372kg car
- no lightweight - to 100kmh in
about 8-odd seconds from
standing. It also makes a
pleasantly sporting rasp and
driving through VW's constantly-
improving DSG transmission, it's
never short of urge, with the
unit's seven ratios conspiring
with its thick, accessible torque
curve to give the car seamless
responses from commuting to
The seven-slot gearbox is as rare
as the engine, for in Britain the
1.4-litre TSi engine is only
available with a six-speed DSG if
you don't want a manual shift.
Manual shift is not on the New
Zealand manifest at the moment,
because it was recognised that
those early take-up Beetle-seekers
mostly prefer two pedals to three.
As well as space, another benefit
of the Golf VI underpinnings
against the Golf IV setup of the
previous car is in the Beetle II's
ride and handling, which is more
accurate and much more pliant
over rough surfaces and holes.
Even on the relatively low-profile
18-inch standard alloy rims, the
car is jolt-free when enjoying
backroads and all the while
delightfully biddable, with its
well-weighted steering, which
communicates precisely through
the steering wheel's slim but
sporting rim. I would probably
not opt for the car's optional $750
''Sports'' handling pack.
None of the Beetles launched in
the late 90s, even the later GTi-
powered turbo models were ever
as much fun and comfortable to
drive as this one, which is
composed, accurate in its
responses and apart from some
wind-flurry around the side
mirrors, exceptionally quiet.
At 100kmh in seventh gear, the
car yawns along at just 1450rpm,
and with that chassis, the
excellent stock sound system, as
well as the new-found cabin and
load space, it's a Beetle I could
drive all day.
For all that, I would like a
cheaper, plainer, slower Beetle II
eventually, and I'm sure it too will
be well worth waiting for as the
model we have is not so much a
Peoples' Car, as a well-off person's
second or third car.
A low-spec 1.2 TSi in the late $30k
area could be the single car
family's vehicle, that the 1930s
design was always intended to be.
But there's another reason why
there's no proper Peoples' Beetle
II in New Zealand, and that's
because VW's Golf VII is
imminent and guess where its
starting sticker will be? In the
meantime, our loaded Beetle II is
an early adopter's dreamcar.
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