Volkswagen Beetle (2012-2018) Review

The VW Beetle mixes retro styling with up-to-date engines and a smooth driving experience

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Efficient petrol and diesel engines
  • Great looks with some practicality
  • Well-equipped and sturdy
  • Top-spec versions were pricey new
  • Restricted rearward visibility
  • Rear seats short on space
Volkswagen Beetle prices from £10,950.

The VW Beetle needs almost no introduction, it’s that familiar a name. It even looks familiar, though this version came many decades after the original. This version is a sportier, more attractive-looking variation on the original car than its immediate predecessor. Retro-rivals include the smaller Mini hatchback and the, much smaller, Fiat 500. Just like the original Beetle, there’s a cabriolet version for open-top motoring too.

The Beetle is a three-door hatchback that’s based on an olde version of the VW Golf. Like that model it’s good to drive thanks to direct, well-weighted steering, comfortable suspension and a good spread of punchy but economical engines that suit most wallets and driving styles. The fly in the ointment is poor over-the-shoulder visibility, which can make it difficult when changing lanes on the motorway.

Without a doubt, the Golf is the more practical car. It’s roomier in the back, where the Beetle feels cramped due to its sloping roof and more limited legroom, and the Golf's boot is larger at 380 litres compared with the Beetle’s 310. Drop the split-fold rear seats and that space expands to 1,270 litres in the Golf and to just 907 in the Beetle.

The Beetle also has a much higher boot lip making it awkward to lift bulky loads into the car. Still, few people are going to buy a Beetle for practical reasons, so what space and practicality there is will probably be a bonus.

Instead, for these people, buying a Beetle is all about buying into a style icon and lifestyle, and here the car doesn’t disappoint. Just as the current Mini plays on memories of the original model, so does the Beetle. Like the original, the dashboard is coloured to match the exterior of the car, at least on Design trim models and upwards. There’s a vertical glovebox, too, just like the original Beetle.

It’s not all style and little substance, though. The seats are comfortable with a good range of adjustment, and in the front, the doorbins are deep and well-shaped. Controls are all logically placed and easy to use, too. In all, the Beetle is an easy car to get along with.

The recent redesign has given the model a lower, more confident look which sporty R-Line trim exploits to great effect. Dune trim brings a touch of SUV to the Beetle with a raised ride height and body protection. However, attractive though these versions are, they raised Beetle prices to around £25,000 new. For that money you could have had a five-door Golf in GT Edition trim, and with a greater choice of engines. However, when buying new these once-pricey Beetles make much more sense.

The most basic Beetle, and the cheapest by a long way, captures the spirit of the old car quite well. It has steel wheels but enough equipment that you don’t feel as if you’re driving a super-basic value-focused model. It’s available only with the lowest powered engine, though. The sweet spot in the range is Design trim. This plays to the retro theme with good attention to detail, a wider choice of engines and reasonable prices.

Key facts

Warranty 3 years
Boot size 310 litres
Width 1825mm
Length 4288mm
Height 1488mm
Tax (min to max) £30 to £130

Best Volkswagen Beetle for...

Best for Economy – VW Beetle 2.0 TDI 110 BMT Design

Really, there’s not much between the two diesel engines but this 110 version just pips the 150 with a figure of 65.7mpg in manual form. The DSG auto version does 62.8mpg. Each costs £30 to tax.

Best for Families – VW Beetle 1.4 TSI 150 Design

We’d usually recommend a diesel but the Beetle’s 1.4 petrol is great to drive, reasonably frugal (49.6mpg) and around the same price as the slower but more economical 2.0 TDI 110. Road tax is £130, though. Design trim brings the kind of design touches that’ll delight occupants young and old.

Best for Performance – VW Beetle 2.0 TDI 150 BMT R-Line

This version is almost as quick as the 1.4 TSI in the 0-62mph sprint but punchier when overtaking, which is much more useful. R-Line trim brings suitably sporty touches. You can have it in this or Dune trim; neither is cheap.


  • 2012 New Beetle, is launched
  • May 2013 Limited edition GSR 210 PS Beetle launched.
  • 2015 Engine range revised to current line-up (see table below)
  • April 2015 Cars built April to August 2014 recalled for possible fuel leak leading to fire
  • June 2015 Cars built October 2011 to August 2013 recalled for possible loss of ‘directional control’.

Understanding Volkswagen Beetle names

Engine 2.0 TDI 150 BMT

Beetle engines comprise a choice of diesel (called TDI) and petrol (TSI) engines. The first number (for example, 2.0) refers to their size, in litres. The second number (for example, 150) refers to the engine’s power measured in horsepower, which can also be written as PS. ‘BMT’ is VW’s shorthand for BlueMotion Technologies, a suite of technologies (Iow-rolling resistance tyres, engine start/stop and turbocharged engines) designed to boost efficiency, and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Trim level R Line

There are four trim levels with different levels of standard equipment.

Gearbox DSG

The standard gearbox is a manual with, depending on the engine, five or six speeds. You can specify an optional automatic, too, with six or seven speeds, again depending on the engine. VW calls this gearbox a DSG (short for direct-shift gearbox). It’s more efficient than a conventional automatic.

Volkswagen Beetle Engines

Petrol: 1.2 TSI, 1.4 TSI
Diesel: 2.0 TDi 110, 2.0 TDI 150

VW recently simplified the Beetle’s engine line-up, deleting the powerful 2.0 TSI 220PS but leaving behind a handful of efficient and enjoyable motors. Even the smallest, the 1.2 TSI, can do 0-62mph in 10.9sec. Economy of around 50mpg is reasonable if your mileage is low, but road tax is £110. It’s good for town driving although with its effortless, seven-speed automatic gearbox, the DSG is better still. It’s no slower, either, and is actually more economical.

If your driving takes you farther afield, consider the 1.4 TSI. It’s much quicker (8.7 seconds) and more relaxing on long drives. It’s also not much thirstier. However, it’s available in only one trim – Design – and there’s no automatic option.

The lowest-powered diesel, the 2.0 TDI 110, is fractionally slower on paper than the 1.2 TSI but feels punchier. It’s more economical, too, but the manual version is spoiled by having only five gears. The DSG is slightly less economical but no slower, and costs as much to tax (£30).

The 2.0 TDI 150 is the performer in the line-up: as quick, from 0-62mph, as the 1.4 TSI but much swifter in overtakes, where it counts. On the downside, the DSG version has an older gearbox with just six speeds that brings economy down to less than 59mpg. The engine is available only in expensive R-Line and Dune trims, too.




Fuel economy



Top speed

1.2 TSI


51.4 - 54.3 mpg


0-62mph: 10.9s


1.4 TSI




0-62mph: 8.7s


2.0 TDI 110


62.8 - 65.7mpg


0-62mph: 11.0s


2.0 TDI 150


58.9 - 62.8mpg


0-62mph: 8.6 - 8.9s

124 - 125mph

Volkswagen Beetle Trims

A Beetle in basic trim is not very exciting but there’s no denying it’s a bargain. After all, you’re still getting traditional VW build quality and those retro looks. The 1.2 TSI engine – the only one it’s offered with – is smooth. There’s air conditioning, height-adjustable driver and passenger seats, a heated windscreen, a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen and a DAB digital radio.

It’s just that today’s Beetle is all about looking good, which is what Design, the next trim in the range, achieves. It’s around £2000 more expensive but brings smart alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler (on the 1.4 TSI) and twin exhaust pipes. Inside, the style dial is turned up with colour-coded trims and leather detailing. The infotainment system gets additional services and connections, too.

R-Line is the sporty one with larger alloys, privacy glass, sports seats and alloy-look pedals. Climate control and parking sensors complete the package. It’s available only with the 2.0 TDI 150 engine, though, and in DSG form is a cool £8000 dearer than the basic 1.2 TSI.

Dune trim gives the Beetle an off-road look because it raises the car a little further off the ground and adds lower door protectors, underbody trims and sports seats. It’s not cheap and is available only with the extremes of the engine range: the 1.2 TSI and 2.0 TDI 150.

Volkswagen Beetle Reliability and warranty

The Beetle shares its mechanical parts with the last Volkswagen Golf modelm which was sold until 2013. This car scored well for build quality in the 2015 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey but much less so for reliability.

It's worth bearing in mind that the Golfs in 2015 would mainly be more than three years'-old, but it's still not an impressive result for VW. New Beetles come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty.

Used Volkswagen Beetle

Novelty cars such as the Beetle are sold in far lower volumes than more practical cars. As long as they remain desirable, then this means that they are likely to hold their value well, keeping second-hand prices high.

Because the basic 1.2 model is cheap when new - compared to the rest of the range - it is unlikely to plummet in value, but the most expensive R Line and Dune cars, which have an official price of £25,000 when new, will be worth considerably less as used cars, making them much better value.


List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance





VW Beetle 2.0 TDI 150 BMT R-Line





Best for families






VW Beetle 1.4 TSI 150 Design






Best for economy






VW Beetle 2.0 TDI 110 BMT Design