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2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Overview
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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.4

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is not the kind of car you buy because you need it, but because you absolutely want it. Its competitors are found in the "boutique" category – cars that deliver heavily on style, image, emotional appeal and ownership that transcends mere transportation. That group could reasonably include the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Ford Mustang, Hyundai Veloster, even the sibling VW GTI and a few others. Yet, the 2012 Beetle is an attractive selection in its own right, with all the mechanical, technological and feature benefits you would expect from Volkswagen, powered by a selection of engines that includes a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbo powerhouse, and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel, all wrapped in the most familiar shape on the road.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're attracted to the striking shape – as we certainly are – you can't help but like the 2012 VW Beetle. Inside and out, it's a constant reminder that you're making an unmistakable style statement.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your goal is to have an economical 2-door with plenty of room for four occupants and all their stuff, there are better choices than the 2012 Beetle. The back seat is a little cramped, the low roof line detracts from interior room, the sleek shape cuts into trunk capacity, and there are certainly less-expensive alternatives.

What's Significant About This Car?

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is as all-new as a car can be.

Driving the Beetle

Driving Impressions Our driving experience with the 2012 Beetle was pleasure with a bit of puzzlement. Pleasure, because it does everything well: The steering is direct and responsive, and the overall behavior...

is completely stable, predictable and even refined. Puzzlement, because we had hoped for this newest iteration of VW's Beetle to have the quick reflexes and enjoyable dynamics of one of our all-time favorites, the Volkswagen GTI. But the Beetle seems tuned for a more comfortable ride and less aggressive handling. Unless you're a very enthusiastic driver you likely won't notice the difference. The 2.5-liter 5-cylinder base engine is perfectly adequate, but we much prefer the available 2.0-liter turbo, which delivers impressive performance with essentially a non-noticeable penalty in fuel economy. All the control functions feel linear and direct, and the 2012 VW Beetle feels like one solid piece whether you're going down the road or carving up mountain passes.

INTERIOR LAYOUT
Too often, efforts to evoke the past in modern incarnations work out less than satisfactorily, both for the past and the present. But the 2012 VW Beetle's interior layout and instrument panel perfectly remembers the original Beetle while offering an arrangement that is both highly attractive and accommodatingly functional.

POWERTRAIN CHOICES
The 2012 Beetle's base 2.5-liter 5-cylinder is completely satisfactory, but the 2.0-liter turbo is a real stormer throughout its rev range, and our choice. For the truly economy-minded, there's the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel with its exceptional fuel economy and impressive low-speed torque.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle Details
2012 Volkswagen Beetle photo Interior

Drivers and passengers will get into the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle and face one of the handsomest instrument panels on the market. Intended to evoke the feel and theme of the original Beetle, with rounded edges and curving shapes, it's a testament to the fundamentals of clean and simple design, and shows the sort of classical timelessness exemplified by, say, a 1929 Barcelona chair or a custom-made shotgun. And not only is it pleasing in appearance, it leads to a layout that's high on function, with all the necessary controls and information displays arranged for easy operation and monitoring.

Exterior
2012 Volkswagen Beetle photo

The 2012 VW Beetle tends to look bigger in the metal than it does in photos, and first observers seem to expect something more compact. The overall form owes more to the original Beetle than to the "New Beetle" of the last several years. Where the New Beetle was very rounded, the 2012 version is lower, certainly more aggressive looking and has a stronger family resemblance to its earlier ancestors, particularly in the side profile and window treatments. We think this is a good thing, as the overall image is more assertive and looks more snugged down into the road.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard fare on the base 2.5L model is 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, leatherette seating, and Electronic Stabilization Control. Moving up to the 2.5L w/Sunroof adds a panoramic sunroof, Satellite Radio, Touchscreen Premium VIII sound, keyless entry, and a leather-wrapped, multifunction steering wheel. Adding the Sound & Navigation package brings 18-inch alloy wheels, a Fender Premium Audio System, a multifunction trip computer, and navigation with touchscreen. Going to the Turbo model adds a rear spoiler, brushed-aluminum pedal covers, sport seats and the handling enhancement of VW's "Cross Differential System." The Turbo with Sunroof, Sound & Navigation package nets leather as well.

Optional Equipment

Since the most of the add-on Beetle goodies are grouped into packages associated with the trim levels, the only additional features tend to be minor items having to do with vehicle protection, floormats and graphics treatments. But one item worth considering is the terrific Fender Audio System. It's easy to operate and delivers great sound – if you're an audiophile, you need to check this out.

Under the Hood

The base engine in the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L is a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5L is rated at 170 horsepower and delivers perfectly acceptable, if not exactly soul-stirring, performance. There are two commendable optional engines. The 2.0-liter Turbo, a favorite of ours in numerous other VW products, makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Fitted with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG automatic, this inline-4 delivers performance that is more than just spirited. The Beetle TDI's 2.0-liter turbodiesel merits 140 horsepower and a very impressive 236 lb-ft of torque, and is matched with either the 6-speed manual or the 6-speed Tiptronic automatic. The TDI offers remarkable around-town get-up-and-go and extremely thrifty fuel economy.


Beetle 2.5L
2.5-liter inline-5
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 22/29 mpg (automatic)

Beetle 2.0 Turbo
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/30 mpg (manual), 22/30 mpg (automatic)

Beetle TDI
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
City/highway fuel economy (estimated): 29/39 mpg

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2012 Volkswagen Beetle Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
7.1
Out of 10

Based on 38 Ratings for the 2012 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    6.8/10
    Quality
    7.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.1/10
    Performance
    7.2/10
  • Comfort
    7.2/10
    Styling
    7.4/10

Fun and interesting

By on Monday, October 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun. Good mileage."

Cons: "Not smooth."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have the Fender turbo and got it at 16,000 two months ago and I have added 4,000 miles. I am still exploring its possibilities, meaning how hard and fast can I throw it into a corner, how quickly it will get going and how well it grips. The story so far: It is easy to spin the front wheels because of the low down torque and front drive. The torques all come together at 1700 with a rush, even though the scroller is running from go. In normal drive the lag is too long to be confident in sudden maneuvers but in sport it is much better. You can also have it in nanny tiptronic; put it in the gear you want and if you are stressing the engine too much it will put you back in drive. Once you have everything together...look out! You will be up somebody' s butt before you know it and hoping the breaks kick in before it becomes a life long relationship. Yes, the breaks are an issue; like the engine, it is a while before they wake up and do their thing, once they do, it is suddenly and with a grab. But all of this doesn't matter at all if you've found the right HD station, you will be too lost listening to the amazing clarity, depth and isolation of the different instruments and voices. Along those lines: at night get out of the car quickly or you will just sit there listening to the music and looking at all the great design details of the dash: the cool red glow of the speaker bezel and subtle light coming from the door trim. How they do that I have no idea. Who knew german designers were hip as well as good? So it is the start of our affair and I for one want to carry on, who knows how it will end up?"

2 people out of 7 found this review helpful

2014 R-line Review

By on Thursday, September 18, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Distinct look, clean interior, fender sound"

Cons: "Fair turbo lag."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"My rating is based on a 29k r-line beetle. Overall I love my car. it has a distinct look inside and out and is well worth getting the r-line trim. It has a FENDER sound system which is a true luxury. Interior wise the dash with its touchscreen and "carbon fiber" look is clean. The fabric seats are my least favorite when compared to my brother's fabric seats (2012 Golf GTI). I am 5'7 and my brother is 6'2 and we both fit comfortably driving. Back seat is virtually non-existent without front people pressed against dashboard. Basically a 2-seater. There is a tad of turbo lag which isn't the end of the world in my opinion being that i don't slam the gas pedal at every green light. Average driver may not even notice. VW are good, reliable vehicles for the price."

12 people out of 22 found this review helpful

Character

By on Monday, August 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Handling, price, looks, trunk space, heated seats"

Cons: "Put 36K miles on it way too quickly!"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"If you seek bland styling, this is not the car for you. My Launch edition has been terrific. We get a lot of snow and ice, so I use a set of Blizzak tires, and this little buggy goes anywhere. I've passed stuck SUVs and have felt completely safe with the handling of this car. For me, the Beetle has more character and better road feed-back than the Honda Civic. With the rear seats folded down, I have loaded the back up with incredible amounts of stuff (monthly Sam's shopping!). With the hatch open, even brought a full size refrigerator home once."

17 people out of 29 found this review helpful

Love the Beetle!

By on Friday, July 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "fun to drive, great sound system"

Cons: "no trunk release inside car, blind spots"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I wanted a Beetle for 10 years, and I finally got the Turbo convertible when they returned to the market. It is super fun to drive and love the Fender sound system! We also have a Mercedes ML350, but I prefer to drive the Beetle! Aside from a few minor things such as no trunk release from inside the car and the doors ding easily, I love the car!"

29 people out of 53 found this review helpful

Outstanding, fun, zippy, smart car!

By on Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,100

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Funnest car ever!!"

Cons: "Backseat a little uncomfortable for passengers."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I get more looks and compliments on this car! It is a showstopper everywhere I go heads turn! Funnest car ever!"

21 people out of 37 found this review helpful

Love it but missing a few things

By on Friday, June 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Adorable, Roomy in Front"

Cons: "no: arm rest, backseat lights, power seats"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"My beetle is fun to drive. It has an optional sports gear when I need to move fast. I love the new exterior look and the vehicle has never had any mechanical issues. Overall, I'm happy with my purchase, despite a few interior items I feel my beetle needs but doesn't have. My beetle needs an arm rest and interior lighting for the center and back of the vehicle. The indoor lights only light the front and everything else is pitch dark at night. The other two items I would really like to have are power seats and control buttons on the steering wheel."

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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