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CarWale Team, 25-Jan-2010. Car Tested: , Version:
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Introduction

The date December 04, 2009 will remain etched in minds of Beetle lovers in the country. It was on this day when the ‘New Beetle’ drove into the Indian roads – almost 70 years (1938) since the birth of the first Bug in Germany. The Beetle as it is known today was a demand made by Hitler to Ferdinand Porsche to build a ‘people’s car’ – one that can transport two adults and two children. Well, whether the car today is really a people’s car is a big question – it comes at a whopping price(Rs 21.47lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai) . The New Beetle that we have today is the upgraded version with advanced technology and features. CarWale road tests the New Beetle to know whether the Bug can really bite you off…

Design

‘Curves are back’ and surely the Beetle is flaunting it. The car retains a similar silhouette design of the original Beetle and the legendary three curves can be spotted easily. The design of the Bug is so famous that the manufacturer needn’t even place a "Beetle" badge on the car unlike other VW cars. Check it out if you still haven’t noticed it! 

The VW Beetle is a very cute looking car, and because of the constant brand bashing  and very unique design characteristics for so many decades, spotting it amongst the crowd isn’t a task. The car is ‘cute’ to the extent that it has also been renamed as a ‘chic’ car amongst many.

The VW New Beetle underwent a Euro NCAP test before 2002, and hence the testing parameters were less. The Bug however, scored a maximum of 4 stars in the passenger occupant safety. The video of the EuroNCAP crash test of the New Beetle is shown below.

Interiors

We did not intend to do this – but the Beetle from inside didn’t impress us much. In fact, once inside the car, we never felt that we were actually seated in a “Beetle”; it was like being inside of any other modern European car; except for a few touches like the oval buldge surrounding the blower vents and the body colour metal on the door. 



The Beetle comfortably seats two adults and at the most two kids in the back. The instrument cluster is made up of a large single dial displaying speed with two small dials indicating fuel level and engine speed with a digital odometer and trip meter. The New Beetle has a 6-CD changer audio system in the armrest with an in-dash single mp3 player and an auxiliary input, whose input location couldn’t be traced. The six-speakers give out decent quality of music, however the sound quality at higher volumes isn't that good. The music system adjusts the volume with the speed of the car a feature not seen on many Indian cars, however on deceleration, the sudden reduction in the volume can be felt.  

Behind the wheels of the New Beetle is a comfortable seating with adjustable driver’s seat, however we missed the telescopic steering, the Beetle sports a large windshield that gives you a good view of the road, however, the large dashboard could bug you while parking the beauty. The power window switch placement is a bit odd and feels like an after design thought. Talking about the safety features, the Beetle comes equipped with 4 airbags with two at the front and two on the B-pillar.

Powertrain and Fuel Efficiency

Powerplant:

The original Beetle had the transverse air-cooled engine which had a RR layout (rear engine, rear wheel drive). The New Beetle, however, has a front mounted transversely placed liquid cooled engine which powers the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission (FF layout). The New Beetle sold in India has 8-valve1984cc powerplant which produces a maximum power of 114bhp and a maximum torque of 172Nm@3200rpm. This is the same engine which was seen on the Skoda Octavia 2.0-litre petrol. After all, same blood runs in the family (Skoda Auto is a part of the Volkswagen Group.)

This powerplant is an older design as it sports only 8-valves with two for each cylinder. The engine is highly refined and revs freely upto 6500rpm. This engine is adequate to push “The Bug”, but we would have been happier to see the 160bhp 1.8TSI powerplant. The Beetle is not all about performance and quarter mile runs, yet in our performance test, the Beetle clocked 0-100km/hr in 14.1 seconds and did a quarter mile in 19.4seconds.


Drivetrain:

The new Beetle comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with tiptronic, though we would have liked to see a DSG box which comes fitted in most of the new VW cars. The transmission upshifts smoothly in the drive mode and the car cruises in overdrive at a speed of 65-70km/hr.

When you plant your right foot, the transmission takes a while to downshift and even the manual shifting takes a while to downshift. This is where the DSG box comes handy. In our in-gear tests, the Beetle took 2.9 seconds to clock from 30-50km/hr and it took 4.1 seconds to reach from 50-70km/hr.

Fuel Efficiency:

The 8-valve SOHC gasoline engines have lower efficiency when compared to the new 16-valve DOHC engines hence any hope of fuel efficiency should be put to rest. The Beetle, however, delivers an overall average of 11.3kmpl which isn’t bad considering it to be a 2.0-litre petrol. When driven pedal to metal in our test, the New Beetle returned a fuel economy of 7.86kmpl.

Driving Dynamics

Volkswagen’s New Beetle is surely one of the cutest looking cars currently being sold worldwide, however, it isn't a drivers’ car. It's a car that meant for the city commute. So, the car has a softer suspension giving the two occupants a comfortable ride in the city at most of the speeds. The New Beetle has McPherson struts at its front and torsion beam at its rear as it is based on the Golf platform. The ride is smooth for the front row occupants but passengers seated in the rear could get fatigued due to lack of legroom and headroom.


The Volkswagen Beetle has a decent handling. The car's suspension isn't tweaked to apex corners at high speeds; it’s a car with a flower on its dashboard and so one has to drive for the joy of it, along with all the stares. We, however, drove the Beetle on winding hill roads and weren't disappointed as the car pushed well up to a certain limit. The Beetle has a fairly light weight steering wheel which makes driving in the city easier and parking convenient. The steering wheel remains light at higher speeds and feels to have artificial feedback.

The New Beetle has a tyre profile of 195/65/R15, with our test car being equipped with Pirelli P7 tyres. The tyres gripped well, but were surprised to hear the Pirelli tyres emit some amount of tread noise on concrete roads. Very unusual! The tyres didn't squeal or and didn't give up around the corners even at higher speeds. The brakes on the Beetle felt pongy and didn't bite that progressively. The anti-lock brakes (ABS) assure that the car remains in control while heavy braking. In our braking test, the New Beetle covered 38.2 metres before coming to a complete standstill from a speed of 80km/hr.

Overall Evaluation

The New Beetle costs Rs 21.47 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) which is on the higher side considering the duty levied on it. To be fair, the Beetle doesn’t compete with any of the saloons, hatchbacks except for the Fiat 500. Both the cars are iconic in terms of styling and both have been the people’s car - one for the Italian and the other for Germany. The Beetle isn’t bought for ride and handling, it sells just by the name of it. Beetle fans love the iconic classic bug for its design and very existence. 

 

 

Test Data

Engine Specifications

  View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  34.2
60  55.2
80  76.9
100  96.8
120  117.7
140  135.9

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph@rpm)
1st  35.5@6500
2nd  70.2@6500
3rd  107.1@6500
4th  144@6500
5th  171@6500
6th -

Performance Test Data

Top Speed 165.5
0-60kph  5.8secs
0-100kph  14.1secs
Quarter Mile (402m)  19.4@116.1kph
Braking 80-0kph  38.2m
30-50kph in 3rd  2.9secs
30-50kph in 4th  
50-70kph in 5th  4.2secs

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)                -
            -  11.3  7.86

 

Photos

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