The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon of a car, and since 1997, Volkswagen has been reinventing the classic Beetle, bottling its charm and retro design with more modern underpinnings.

In 2012, Volkswagen launched the second generation of the new Beetle, with a leaner and sportier look. Now the Beetle range has had some updates for the 2017 model year – some very subtle styling updates including new lights and new bumpers, and a refresh of the trim and equipment lines.  Three new colours have been introduced including the one pictured, Sandstorm Yellow.

The Volkswagen Beetle range kicks off with the Design model at €25,075. Sport trim has been replaced by R-Line and these sportier looking models start at €30,135. Design models are offered with choice of 1.2-litre TSI turbo petrol (105hp) or 2.0-litre TDI diesel (110hp). R-Line models are offered with a 150hp 1.4-litre TSI turbo petrol or the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 150hp. DSG automatic gearboxes are available on all trims and engines.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
The interior of the Volkswagen Beetle

My test car was the range-topping 2.0-litre TDI 150hp R-Line DSG coming in at a hefty €34,575. Standard equipment on Design models includes 16” alloys, front fog lights, cruise control, air con and 6.5” touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. R-Line models add 17” alloys, dual zone climate control, aluminium pedals, parking sensors, and some chrome and gloss black exterior detailing.

Inside, the body-coloured dash panels and round instrument binnacle nod to the original Beetle, but otherwise this is classic Volkswagen – the layout is logical and easy to interact with. Material quality is poorer in places when compared to what we’ve come to expect from the current generation of models like new Passat, Golf and Polo, but it’s still better than many competitors.

The Beetle is a four-seater. Space up front is good but it’s a bit tighter in the rear, though two adults will be reasonably comfortable back there. The boot is about average at 310 litres, but that’s better than some other equally stylish 3-door rivals like the MINI Hatch and the DS3.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
Volkswagen Ireland offers the Beetle with 1.2- and 1.4-litre turbo petrol engines and a 2.0-litre diesel

My test car had the 2.0-litre TDI with 150hp and it’s a strong and flexible engine with 0 to 100km/h achieved in just 8.9 seconds. Refinement of the engine is good and it returns a claimed 59mpg, with real world economy not too far off that.

On the road, the Volkswagen Beetle is good to drive. There is loads of grip in corners and the steering has a direct feel to it. The Beetle is built on an older Golf platform and unfortunately lacks the excellence of the current Golf in terms of comfort, refinement and steering feel. The Beetle is a good drive and has a strong image, but the Golf Mark 7 is a better product in many ways.

The Volkswagen Beetle is an icon and like many of its competitors, it’s more about style than value for money or practicality. The Beetle delivers image and kerb appeal in bucket loads and this car makes people smile. It is an expensive style statement, but this is the best Beetle yet.

Volkswagen Beetle Ireland Review
The Volkswagen Beetle can get very expensive but its image precedes it and it’s the best one yet

Model tested: Volkswagen Beetle 2.0TDI R-Line DSG
€34,575 (Range starts at €25,075)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
Torque: 340Nm
8.9 seconds
Top speed: 202km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€270 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a stylish 3-door car you might also like this review of the Alfa Romeo Mito.