I sat over this review for the last 2 weeks pondering on how should I write about the Beetle 1.2 TSI. Frankly, as a non-automotive blogger, writing about launches and lifestyle-angled reviews on new models are the simplest. Your readers would already be interested to know more of the new model; features, specifications and price being the most common and important facts that should be shared. That, and a few pictures of models (not necessarily hot) baring some skin usually works.
The headache about such an iconic model like the Beetle is – what is there to say that wasn’t said before in the news; both online and print?
How do you write about everyone’s favourite “round” car? Very few cars are held in reverence as much as the Beetle. So can I risk writing something whimsical? Can I say I didn’t like it? Well, thankfully I’m in awe of the Beetle as much as everyone else so it took very effort on the Beetle’s part to convince me why it deserves its iconic prominence.
Even on my fan page!
Short of borrowing a friend’s car (not many people I know drives a Beetle anyhow), this was the only opportunity I had so far to drive the Beetle. Finally, after all the green-eyed stares of the Beetles on the road, I’m going to be behind the wheels of one!
Naturally Volkswagen Malaysia handed me their latest model – the ” 1.2 TSI” variant (there’s a 2.0 TSI) , the one launched in a big way just last year at the Volkswagen Das Auto Show @ Kuala Lumpur Convention Center. Don’t expect comparison in this post though, as I have said, I have never driven any other Beetle before.
As a new “owner” of the Volkswagen Beetle for 4 days, here are my thoughts.
This bloody (in reference to the colour of course) car is sexy!
And this is probably the only time you’ll hear me refer to something FAT as sexy. Fat is never sexy, (unless you’re a puppy or a baby but then they are cute, not sexy) but the fat Beetle is.
Next, posing with the car.
Class - check. A head turner - check (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – the CAR, not me). Status quotient - immediate sky-high elevation.
Comfort – Front seats.
Was it just me finding it slightly difficult to get myself out of the seat? I had to pull myself up and out with much effort. It could also be because my seat was shifted very much to the front, due to my height.
But once seated, I liked the snug fit of the seat to the body. The seat has the usual adjustable controls; to the front, back and for the headrest. Since I had an alternative driver for the Ipoh trip, we had to adjust the seat, mirror, side mirrors and etc every time one of us takes the wheel. It would be nice if the Beetle has similar functionality as the Volvo X60 and V60 memory modes where we could adjust our seat positions to how each of us would like it, and then save it into memory by allocating one of the 3 buttons (at the side of the driver seat) available for such a purpose.
But I have to bear in mind that this is a 2 door car which aren’t really meant for family use and thus doesn’t warrant multiple seat adjustments functions. Still, just a thought.
Comfort – Back seats.
From what I read online, compared with the model it replaces, the 21st century Beetle is significantly bigger and wider, with additional headroom and legroom plus a larger boot.
Like seriously? How was the Beetle before this then? I’m a
short petite 5 foot, slim enough and I did felt a bit cramped at the back of the the car. Since we took it for a road trip to Ipoh, the 3 of us rotated to sit at the back and it was tight fit even for a shortie like me.
As illustrated below, there’s not much space once the front seat is pushed back.
Here I’m now seated on the other seat at the far end just to show the difference.
Better view via this image – legroom severely limited once the chair is pushed back. And mind you, the front seats are not pushed very far back but just comfortable for a 5.5 feet individual in front.
I suspect some of us would try to fit 3 pax at the back but it better be a short ride (not to mention illegal as there’s no seatbelt for the 3rd individual) as the middle is slightly raised, clearly marking the partition of the backseat to 2 so it would not be comfortable at all. That said, it’s not ideal for anyone to attempt lying down across the seat for rest either. I tried to take a nap after my turn behind the wheel but gave up after a while.
Anyhow, THIS IS A 2 DOOR COUPE so such “cosy” seating at the back is probably not something to complain about, and these are primarily my personal observations.
On the other hand, there’s plenty of space in the rear. The rear seats can be folded flat which gives you further room. All in all, this means more space at the rear for baggage but just not human baggage; unless of course your passengers are inclined to take up the boot space.
Colour matched dashboard. Nothing flatters a car more than matching interior trimmings – so says Volkswagen on their site.
Hell yeah, no arguments on that one!
Ah, now the whole of the Beetle comes into play. I’m frankly, at the back of the wheel of mighty beast, both in looks and power. Hard core automotive enthusiast left comments that the Beetle is underpowered for its price, but I’m not deterred. I love the feel of being behind the wheel.
The car responded to my every command (well, other than the times I pushed the wrong buttons). Heck why are there so many buttons?
For functionality and convenience of course. These are fine once you get the hang of it. Or be like me, set everything once and leave it at that.
More functions and controls can be found on the wheel; of which I’m uninclined to go much into details on. Its nothing of James Bond level but provides your usual controls of volume, sound tracks and lights, etc.
Exterior mirrors are electrically adjustable, foldable and heated.
Disappointingly, I still have to drive it with the key slotted in. It would have been so much cooler otherwise!
Engine. Ok, please don’t expect me to write about engines. It would make no sense for me to copy the information off the internet.
Here’s a picture for you.
And the brochure. Help yourself. :P
OR – head to the nearest Volkswagen showroom and ask a professional staff about it. Test drive a VW too while you’re at it - http://www.volkswagen.com.my/en/want-one-/book-a-test-drive.html
Ease of driving and safety.
Other than the usual auto modes, there is cruise control as well as the Sports mode for the Beetle which is supposed to give ample performance punch, sort of more of a high performance type of feel. Naturally, you get more power but you also get less fuel economy with this setting.
Parking assist includes the Park Distance Control for the front and rear.
Dual front airbags with front passenger airbag deactivation. Apparently there are combined side airbags and thorax airbags for front passengers as well but I guess activating the airbags to check aren’t such a good idea.
What I REALLY LOVE about the Beetle is the Hill-Hold control.
God damn, this is a fabulous function especially for one that’s used to manual drive. One particular stretch of road that I detest is the Sprint to Bangsar route, the road that leads up to Bangsar Shopping Centre and vice versa. It is always jammed and the slope is at quite a inclined degree.
My car would slide down each time I stop and when I start to accelerate. With the Beetle, I could take my foot off the brakes and not worry! What an incredible feeling! I use this road almost everyday and it’s always been a pain for me but not when I was driving the Beetle!
MONEY. First up – petrol bills.
Being a semi-regular attendee of automotive launches and some test drives, I have enough automotive friends who are too happy to share their know-how. While some of them (funnily enough) haven’t had the chance to drive the 21st Century Beetle, phrases like “German technology doesn’t fail” and “Volkswagen ah, petrol cheap!” are common, the latter in reference to its fuel consumption obviously, not the state of petroleum affairs in our country.
My kancil definitely doesn’t guzzle much fuel so there wasn’t a need to keep track. Modern cars comes with this nifty dashboard that tracks almost anything – distance, speed, fuel consumption at any one point of driving. I admit I find it fun, flicking about the controls just to switch screens as I drive so I could check on its performance.
Almost 1/4 tank of 55 litres for 175.7 km.
However, it seems that I have to improve my driving as the fuel consumption is still high somewhat.
All in all…….
I WANT A BEETLE!!
As I wrote this, I wished I had taken a video as a video review might have worked much better. I had thought of it, till I sat behind the wheel and all thoughts of that evaporated. It was just too much fun to think of “work” when driving the Beetle.
I guess that’s what the Beetle does to you; inject pure pleasure in the act of driving, so much so I drove it as much as I could, in jams or otherwise.
I barely felt the 2 hours journey to Ipoh.
After all, I have never been given right of way (regardless of whether I’m in the right lane or otherwise) in my years of driving as much I had during the 4 days with the Beetle. Cars shifted so I could drive through. No one honked me. And of course, the sneaking admiring glances. First at the car, then me, then quickly back at the car. One can’t compete with a Beetle I tell you.
The Beetle is available in seven shades – Candy White, Tornado Red, Saturn Yellow, Reflex Silver, Deep Black, Platinum Grey, and Graciosa Brown. It is available at all authorized Volkswagen dealers nationwide and is priced from RM139,888.
Now I’m itching for another ride. 2 doors please. Anyone?