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Third Generation VW Beetle For Spring 2013

By raccars Published

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The Beetle is one of those classic cars that no-one thought could have been successfully re-invented. However at the turn of the century, the precious bug was substantially updated to sell a million units – although subject to criticisms of its frivolity. With various other retro themed rivals tearing up the industry, VW has now treated the Beetle to its second revision and the market is keen to see if this lifestyle car can now deliver on both style and performance.

Following the current trend, the new Beetle has been enlarged and made more efficient than its predecessor. It's one of those niche vehicles from which it is impossible to separate style from substance and while previous Beetles have ticked the funky retro charm boxes, behaviour on the road was mediocre.

The new design is at once sleeker than the second generation and closer to the original. While the curves are all still there, this car looks less like a cartoon character. It's a neat blending of the traditional and the futuristic. In the cabin, you've got some cute hangovers from the original Beetle in the form of door straps rather than pockets, a glovebox that opens to the top and the merciful absence of the MK II car's cringeworthy flower vase. A keen eye would notice the built in Mexico feel next to a thoroughly Teutonic Golf, but that's not to say the Beetle is shabbily finished.

However, it's on the road that you really notice the difference between this Beetle and previous incarnations. There's a good choice of engines on offer, opening with an economical and unexpectedly perky 103bhp 1.2 litre turbo petrol, then a 158bhp turbo and supercharged 1.4 litre unit, while the range topper is a Golf sourced 2.0 litre TSI hot hatch. Diesel fans can go for a 103bhp 1.6 litre or a punchy 138bhp 2.0 litre unit. They are all good little motors – no-one ever really talked about Beetles in terms of 0-60mph speeds before, but the hot hatch will now get you there in a pretty respectable 7.5 seconds and will keep going to 140mph.

When it comes to handling, the Beetle is riding on a Golf chassis, so it's pretty composed but does lack that car's sophistication on the road. You'll hear those turbos whirring and the frameless doors can provoke some wind noise, but it's still a far better drive than the earlier models.

So while it stops short of being a real driving enthusiast's vehicle, the new VW Beetle doesn't need to be ashamed of itself pulling away from the lights.

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