The new New VW Beetle

Having debuted over a decade ago, the first-generation New Beetle was getting a bit long in the tooth. With the 2012 model year, the Beetle gets a styling and tech upgrade.
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2012 VW Beetle: Flattened profile

The changes are most obvious in the profile. The roof and hood have been flattened to give the 2012 Beetle a lower and leaner look.
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2012 VW Beetle: New style

Gone is the slavish reliance on a circular theme. This Beetle tosses in a few angles and hard edges to complement its curves.
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2012 VW Beetle: 2.0T engine

However, we're more interested in the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that the Beetle Turbo borrows from the VW GTI. Turbo lag is an issue, but 200 horsepower is nothing to thumb your nose at.
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2012 VW Beetle: DSG automatic transmission

Power exits through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or this six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
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2012 VW Beetle: Cross Differential System

The Beetle Turbo features Volkswagen's Cross Differential System which acts as a faux limited-slip differential by using bias braking to reduce wheel spin while cornering.
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2012 VW Beetle: Handling

While not as hard-edged as its GTI-badged brethren, the Beetle Turbo does supply its fair share of grins while rounding a corner.
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2012 VW Beetle: Sporty styling

The Beetle Turbo differentiates itself from the naturally aspirated version with larger 18-inch wheels, chrome side sills, and, of course, better performance.
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2012 VW Beetle: Decklid spoiler

The decklid spoiler, mounted just below the rear glass, is at once prominent from certain angles and subtle from others.
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2012 VW Beetle: Interior

The Beetle's cabin has also grown up a bit. You'll find no goofy bud vase here, just high-quality materials and solid construction.
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2012 VW Beetle: Instrument cluster

Like most VW's, the Beetle's instrumentation is simple, understated, and handsome.
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2012 VW Beetle: Audio controls

Audio controls and a hands-free calling button fall nicely under the pad of the driver's thumb.
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2012 VW Beetle: Driver info controls

Steering-wheel controls for the information LCD at the base of the speedometer are easy to understand and navigate at speed.
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2012 VW Beetle: Fender audio system

The optional Fender audio system features eight speakers in the cabin and a subwoofer in the rear hatch. It's easily one of the best-sounding OEM car audio systems in this class.
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2012 VW Beetle: Touch-screen display

The premium audio system includes this touch-screen LCD display which is used to access the audio sources.
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2012 VW Beetle: Audio sources

From left to right, the Volkswagen Beetle can be equipped to accept audio input from the single-slot CD player, an SD card, the analog input, VW's MDI input for USB or Apple dock connector, or Bluetooth audio streaming. AM/FM radio and satellite radio are also standard.
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2012 VW Beetle: Bluetooth calling

The Bluetooth hands-free calling system relies pretty heavily on these icons (the majority of which are nearly identical at a glance). Fortunately, voice activation is available.
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2012 VW Beetle: Now playing

When playing an audio source that outputs metadata (in this case that includes Bluetooth streaming), the VW will display artist, song, album, station info, or a combination.
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2012 VW Beetle: RN 315 navigation

You can choose to add the RN 315 turn-by-turn GPS navigation system to the Beetle's premium audio system. The maps have a clean, rather basic aesthetic. Traffic data is not available at this level.
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2012 VW Beetle: Destination selection

The destination entry options of the navigation system suffer from the same ambiguous icon design as the hands-free calling system.
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2012 VW Beetle: Address input

VW gives you the choice of using the touch screen to input address info or selecting the letters using a control knob just below the screen. We'll stick with the touch screen, thanks.
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2012 VW Beetle: Kaeferfach glove box

At the top of the dashboard is a secondary glove box, but it was too small to store anything we tried to cram into it.
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2012 VW Beetle: Fuel economy

We averaged 19.8 mpg during our heavy-footed test cycle, which was heavily weighted toward city driving.
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2012 VW Beetle: Hatchback design

You wouldn't know it from the outside, but the VW is classified as a hatchback.
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2012 VW Beetle: Storage space

The Beetle's profile somewhat compromises storage space due to the shape of the rear hatch. However, overall cabin and storage volumes aren't drastically different from those of the Volkswagen Golf.
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Is the Beetle cool again?

Overall, the changes to the 2012 Beetle are for the better. Yes, the Beetle is back and, in its Turbo guise, cool again.


Return to the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo review.

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