By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle is as all-new as a car can be.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L with manual transmission is just under $20,000, which is in the ballpark for the MSRPs of the Fiat 500 Lounge, Mini Cooper and Scion tC. The 2.0 Turbo starts a little over $24,000 with a manual transmission, and the Tiptronic automatic adds about $900. A fully-optioned 2.0 Turbo, with the optional Sunroof, Sound & Navigation package, will be close to $31,000. Before heading to the Volkswagen dealer, be sure and check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what other buyers in your area have paid for 2012 Beetles. Expected residual values for the 2012 VW Beetle should be about the same as those of the Scion tC, less than those for the Mini Cooper, and more than those for the Fiat 500.
By Dillinja (NC) on Saturday, November 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Turbo, Retro interior, Handeling"
Cons: "I'm a guy in a beetle :-/"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Can't complain, yet. I get about 8-9 days out of the gas tank. The Turbo is great. Looks 10 times better than the last design. The red/white/blue interior lighting is amusing as well."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Big Daddy (AR) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "design, interior space, fit and trim, handeling"
Cons: "no center arm rest, seats not easy to adjust"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"When I was a kid growing up in the 70's, my parents owned a 69 Bug. Growing up in Chicago meant in the winter, we still needed to wear coats, gloves, hats and scarfs inside the Bug, because the heaters were....well pretty much useless. Later in life in the mid 80's I spent the summer with my mom in San Diego. Seemed like there was an endless supply of VW's in southern California. I found one at a dealership ('71) that i fell in love with. I wasnt able to buy that car, but I'll never forget drooling over that simple candy apple red Beetle. So, now that I am in my 40's, overweight and no where near the physical shape i was in back then, my wife and I, and 16 year old daughter fell in love with the 2012-2013 newly designed Beetle. Problem was that at nearly 6' tall and 300 pounds, I figured I'd never fit in the car, even though the bug and I share similar shape ( Lol ). So yesterday my wife and i set out to replace one of our vehicles. I suggested that she go ahead and take a test drive with our salesman, to avoid the embarassment of not being able to fit in the car. After they both insisted that I come along, I got into the passenger seat, and I stepped back in time 30 years. I immediately smiled from ear to ear. This was a 2013 black 2.5 automatic. I was so glad that they insisted that I get in it. I fit just fine. Now, for my rating and opinion. I have owned more than 40 cars in my life time. I drove tractor-trailers for years and was a police officer for more than a decade. My opinion may not be "professional" but definitely "well experienced". This car reminded us both very much like thr handling and responsiveness of a 3 series BMW. Both the steering and acceleration is amazing. We now live in rural Arkansas with lots of hills, mountains and curvy roads. This beetle is so fun to drive. The stereo is adequate, fantastic heat and AC. (ha ha) but besides the performance and awesome new look ( lowered roof line ) the interior is suprisingly spacious as compared to Bugs I was used to. Very quiet ride too. There are a couple areas that will take some getting used to though. 1.) lack if center arm rest 2.) adjusting seats between drivers takes a while Other than that we love it, and will start looking for another. I didnt care for the cab forward ash design of the "NEW BEETLE" I LOVE THIS DASH THOUGH. !!!"
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By kpf (AZ) on Sunday, September 29, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun To Drive Fender is the best"
Cons: "poorly made Mexico product"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Do not buy one with a sunroof. They are made in Mexico and not strucurally sound. Body creaks, body bangs over bumps, dealer cannot fix after having for nearly 30 days."
By vw owner (LA) on Thursday, September 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "great looking car, swift acceleration"
Cons: "hard to park, steering, low to the ground"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have a 2013 black beetle 2.5 base model. i had 2 other Volkswagens which was a 2003 new beetle 2.0 and a 2007 GTI. this beetle i find it is decent car the gas milage is not that great compared to my other volkswagens i get about 20 city and 30 highway. i have about 23000 miles on this car and no issues at the moment. my major complaint is the steering is awful i feel like i am driving huge truck and because of the odd shape it is more difficult to park. this car is decent but i would spend a little extra money and get the turbo."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Stevenvolks (VA) on Monday, August 19, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great MPG, Sporty and Quick, Comfortable"
Cons: "Plastic Dash!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"A great little car for the money. If your looking for something with a primo feel and look this is your car. The Turbo model is the way to go! More power and better fuel mileage than the 2.5L. The 2.0 TSI motor is strong and has great reliabilty (I have 2009 VW GTI with the same motor and a lot more miles). The seating is clean and comfortable, even on long 4+ hour trips. Tech and comfort in the car has improved over the out going model(1998-2010). It has enough to keep you happy, but not so much that it takes away from the classic/retro feel."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By AbbieLynnn (NE) on Thursday, July 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 99,999overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "easy to park"
Cons: "EVERYTHING ELSE"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I have owned this bug for 2 years, and my sister owned it before I had. Easily the worst car I have ever had. Found myself stuck on the side of the road more then I was actually driving it. Also both of my doors broke, like the handles? How does that even happen. my air conditioning often went out sometimes if i was to run the air and the radio at the same time it would die. AWFUL PURCHASE"
2 people out of 15 found this review helpful