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First drive: Volkwsagen Beetle


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The Beetle is back and this time Volkswagen is looking to appeal to a wider audience.

The new model is larger than the previous generation, the flower power vase is gone and it’s generally a more practical proposition.

The Beetle now measures 4,278mm in length (+152mm), 1,808mm in width (+84mm) so there’s a bit more space in the back.

Boot capacity has also been boosted to 310 litres, up from 209 litres so it’s actually possible to fit a big shop in there now.

Head room has been shaved by 12mm to create more of an aggressive stance. It’s not a massive reduction and hopefully the design decision will help to tempt more male buyers behind the wheel as VW intends.

UK VW dealers have sold 68,000 units of the Beetle since it was resurrected in 1997 and this new model offers customers a funky alternative to the more practical Golf if they can’t afford to move up to a Scirocco, which is £3,575 more expensive.

VW is expecting to sell up to 3,000 units in a full year.

Dealers will have to highlight the Beetle’s improved practicality if they’re looking to convince Mini customers as the Cooper is £1,650 cheaper than the entry level Beetle at £16,490.

Like the Mini, the Beetle provides plenty of opportunity to personalise features like the colour accent panels (on top seller Design trim) which hark back to the original Beetle from 1938.

The Beetle’s interior features more personality than most of VW’s model line-up (with the exception of the funky little Up) and build quality is high.

My partner even preferred it to a Bentley Continental GT which was her most recent point of reference. High praise indeed.

Three trim levels will be available – Beetle, Design and Sport.

There’s also an optional 400W Fender sound pack available for £495 which includes a subwoofer with switchable three-colour illumination surrounding the front loudspeakers.

In the UK, a choice of five engines will be offered when the full range is available: three petrol – a 1.2-litre TSI 103bhp, a 1.4-litre TSI 158bhp and a 2.0-litre TSI 198bhp; and two diesel – a 1.6-litre 103bhp with BlueMotion technology and a 2.0-litre TDI 138bhp.

It’s a strong line-up of engines and they perform well in the Beetle.

Steering is still weighty, but the new model feels a lot less lumbering than its predecessor.

The 2.0-litre diesel is actually quite rapid and a revised suspension has sharpened up driving dynamics enough to make things enjoyable, but it’s still not in driving enthusiast territory.

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