The new New VW Beetle

2012 VW Beetle: Flattened profile

2012 VW Beetle: New style

2012 VW Beetle: 2.0T engine

2012 VW Beetle: DSG automatic transmission

2012 VW Beetle: Cross Differential System

2012 VW Beetle: Handling

2012 VW Beetle: Sporty styling

2012 VW Beetle: Decklid spoiler

2012 VW Beetle: Interior

2012 VW Beetle: Instrument cluster

2012 VW Beetle: Audio controls

2012 VW Beetle: Driver info controls

2012 VW Beetle: Fender audio system

2012 VW Beetle: Touch-screen display

2012 VW Beetle: Audio sources

2012 VW Beetle: Bluetooth calling

2012 VW Beetle: Now playing

2012 VW Beetle: RN 315 navigation

2012 VW Beetle: Destination selection

2012 VW Beetle: Address input

2012 VW Beetle: Kaeferfach glove box

2012 VW Beetle: Fuel economy

2012 VW Beetle: Hatchback design

2012 VW Beetle: Storage space

Is the Beetle cool again?

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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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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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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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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Power exits through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or this six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
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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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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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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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The decklid spoiler, mounted just below the rear glass, is at once prominent from certain angles and subtle from others.
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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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Like most VW's, the Beetle's instrumentation is simple, understated, and handsome.
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Audio controls and a hands-free calling button fall nicely under the pad of the driver's thumb.
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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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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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The premium audio system includes this touch-screen LCD display which is used to access the audio sources.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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We averaged 19.8 mpg during our heavy-footed test cycle, which was heavily weighted toward city driving.
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You wouldn't know it from the outside, but the VW is classified as a hatchback.
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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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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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