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Review: The latest Beetle

CAR OF THE WEEK: Beetle R-Line 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS 6spd manual (price: £27,910) 

I ALWAYS get a tad excited when I’m on the verge of test driving Volkswagen’s Beetle. After all, it is one of the most iconic vehicles on Britain’s roads.

The New Beetle went on sale in 1998, and an all-new design made its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2011.

This latest Beetle is substantially longer, wider and lower than the outgoing New Beetle and on a marginally longer wheelbase, meaning it looks more sporty, masculine and dynamic.

All of the latest generation Beetle models are front-wheel drive, front engined and have three doors and four seats.

There is a decent choice in terms of what you want under the bonnet. There are four engine versions available, two petrol and two diesel. A 1.2-litre TSI 105 PS and a 1.4-litre TSI 150 PS complete the petrol line-up, while a 2.0-litre TDI 110 PS and a 2.0-litre TDI 150 PS make up the diesel offering

My week’s evaluation was memorable.

On the road, a new suspension contributes to more dynamic driving performance than in the previous model. A very lightweight strut type set-up at the front is completed by semi-independent rear suspension. The gearbox was smooth as opposed to slick but I had no qualms.

Trim levels are defined as ‘Beetle’, ‘Design’, ‘R-Line’ and ‘Dune’. All have a high level of equipment including air conditioning and DAB radio; alloy wheels, multi-function leather steering wheel, MDI (multi-device interface), Bluetooth and colour co-ordinated dash and door panels on 'Design'; and 'Climatronic', ‘Piano Black’ dash panels, parking sensors and gloss black wing mirrors on R-Line.

Following the 2016 refresh, the Volkswagen Beetle’s distinctive cabin now has a brighter instrument panel lighting and new dials and dash styling for the Design and R-Line models. New upholstery materials bring further styling options

As ever, safety is a priority with VW with twin front and side airbags, plus ABS and ESP all standard. What’s more, the Beetle’s body is largely laser-welded and galvanised meaning it has one of the best torsional rigidity values in the segment.

If you are in a position to upgrade your Beetle – and it comes well equipped in the first instance – there are a plethora of options including keyless entry, including Stop/Start button on centre console (£370),
decal stripes (double black stripes across the bonnet, roof and rear spoiler at £330), winter pack which offers heated front seats and heated windscreen washer jets for £255, Discover Navigation, which is touch-screen navigation / DAB radio system with dash-mounted CD player. 6.5- inch colour screen, preloaded navigation data, D card reader, MP3, WMA and AAC file compatibility and MDI- in socket for connection via USB. With Car-Net ‘Guide & Inform’, providing online access to a range of information such as traffic, fuel pricing, parking space availability, weather and news feeds for a whopping £665.

The new Volkswagen Beetle ticked most of the boxes for me.

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