2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo (Automatic)
Engine: 2.0L inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged/intercooled, TSI
Power: 200hp, 207lb-ft.
Fuel Economy: 22 city/30 hwy
Price as Tested: $29,095
With gas prices on a steady incline and cars subsequently getting smaller by the year, the profile of a “chick car” has changed dramatically. We’re not saying that it’s cool for a 6-foot-5 linebacker dude to rock a Smart Car, but you get the picture.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo fits that tweener profile to a “T.” It is cute enough for your girl, but fast and aggressive enough for you to feel comfortable behind the wheel. Whereas the previous model resembled the vintage Beetle/Bug, the 2012 Beetle has squared edges, giving the car a masculine touch. The third generation Beetle is wider (by three inches), longer (by six inches), and lower than the previous model. The 18-inch alloy wheels also make the gentile insect a lot meaner.
The best word to describe the Beetle Turbo driving experience is “fun.” The double clutch (DSG) transmission, independent rear suspension, 18-millimeter anti-roll bar, and 12.3-inch vented front brakes make whipping in and out of traffic a breeze. The electric power steering is precise, making handling so crisp you’ll forget that you’re driving a Beetle. The turning radius (35.4 inches) is right where it should be, making U-turns, hitting tight curves, and parking easy.
The automatic has paddle shifters, but there is also a manual transmission Turbo available (something most automakers have abandoned altogether). Gas mileage is not bad for the Beetle Turbo. But it should be kept in mind that unlike the standard 2.5L engine, the 2.0L turbo block requires premium fuel.
Although the latest Beetle is light years more advanced than the original, there are a few design cues that remain. The extra glove box is one of them. Aside from that, the interior is all-new. The classic dome has been replaced by a slick panorama sunroof, which makes the cabin seem more spacious. An easy-to-use navigation system, heated seats, a multi-function steering wheel, and a keyless entry system add luxury and tech, making the Turbo worth the extra $10,000. One of the few drawbacks is the tight backseat. Then again, what adults are going to roll four-deep in a Beetle?
The beat is top notch for a whip in this class. The Fender premium audio system will not knock pictures off the wall as you are driving down the block (shout out to Yungstar), but it does provide clean sound that doesn’t distort even at high volumes. We tested it out with Common’s The Dreamer, The Believer album, and it adequately handled the hard-ass drums and deep bass. The 400-watt system with integrated subwoofer is a definite plus. We 100 percent co-sign giving up the flower vase for more bass.
At nearly $30,000, the Beetle Turbo is not for everyone. But if you are looking for a car engineered for city driving (VW purposefully shifted the gearbox to short-shift when left in drive, thanks to U.S. customer feedback) with a few extra perks, then it’s a good candidate.