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
By Beetle Lover on Friday, July 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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!"
25 people out of 45 found this review helpful
By Beetle Lover on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
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
By Whales on Friday, June 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
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."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Josie on Thursday, June 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,950overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "cute car"
Cons: "can't think of one now."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It has performed well for around the town drive - to and from work - it all kinds of weather.The back seats are useless since it is a very tight and uncomfortable ride for a passenger. However for my use it serves its purpose - a ide to and from work."
8 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By BEE on Saturday, May 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,100overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking car"
Cons: "Fuel economy, performance, reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is my second time having a VW Beetle. The first one was a 1998 Bug which was a very unreliable car. It had the well known window problems, air conditioning and heater core had to be replaced and at 60K the head gasket cracked. That was the worse car I have ever owned. After that experience I told myself that I would never buy a VW again, well that all changed fourteen years later when the new 2012 beetles arrived. I was thinking that after all of these years the quality and reliability of the VW beetle should have improved. So, I decided to give VW another try, which was a bad mistake. The performance of the car is pretty underwhelming in that it is sluggish and has considerable turbo lag. Further, the fuel economy is poor around 23-26 mpg on premium fuel (turbo model). Poor quality in material, lots of cheap plastics and fabrics in the interior. You would think paying 24k for a car that the interior would have some type of leather covering. The front seats are not holding up well, the seat cushion has pretty much worn away. Therefore when I am driving I am pretty much sitting on the seat frame. Reliability is poor, the blower motor for the heater/ air conditioner failed at 3k miles. Presently, the blower motor for the AC/Heater decided to stop working again so I have an appointment to take the car back to the dealership for the same problem! I have owned this car for one year and it has under 30K miles and it has been in the shop twice. I hate to think about how reliable this car will be in a couple more years."
6 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Three S on Thursday, April 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "TDI mileage, fun to drive, convertible enjoyment"
Cons: "auto windows sticking in winter, rear visibility"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have the TDI convertible with 6 speed manual transmission. After 10,000 I have had no major problems, it continues to run very well. The only problems I have experienced: 1) The auto windows getting stuck. The windows automatically go down a 1/2 inch when you go to open the door. When the temp first dropped below freezing and there was frost, these would freeze and you couldn't open the doors, then you'd have to reset the power windows. The dealer sprayed some silicon lube on the window seals and that seems to take care of it. But probably need to do that before every cold season. 2) Rear visibility is poor. I knew this going in, you have to be very careful backing out of the driveway, parking spots, changing lanes. Rely more on the side mirrors, and I'm considering an after market reverse camera. 3)There are a few more small paint chips on the hood than I would expect after 8 months and 10,000 miles. Could be all the salt during a harsh winter getting thrown off the road, but I'm keeping an eye on it. Otherwise it is a fun car to drive, but more fun in the warm weather with the top down. The top drops ridiculously fast, I even "raced" the top against a friend's BMW 1 series convertible, and it was much faster. You can put it down while moving up to 30mph too which is nice. Never had a car with Bluetooth either, that is a feature I'm hooked on. Initial acceleration is pretty good, mileage is up around 45mpg on the highway. As a guy, I'm getting less people making fun of it and more people liking it than I expected too."
9 people out of 13 found this review helpful