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 Sprite on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,600overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun for short rides, great price."
Cons: "Steering is very loose!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Having had a 1966 VW in 1976, I was young, much lighter and had no car experience, I was 23. I loved my bug, with no heat, no air, and no working defrosters, it was my baby. I grew up and moved on with different types of cars, staying with more mid size comfort type cars. So, no judging please, I knew their would be major differences in ride etc. when I went with the bug! When the new remodeled VW bug rolled out in 2012, I fell into the nostalgia trance of the old 1966 bug. I drove the 2012 found it to be a lot of fun and decided to lease one. First, it is a lot of fun to drive, it is smart looking, and it has more head room than you were expect. However, I can not tolerate any trip more than 1 hr as you feel everything the road has to offer, dips,rough roads etc., the steering is my main issue. The wheel is so loose you must keep both hands on the wheel at all times in a death like grip, ensuring you don't go off the road!! I did bring the car back to check it out, I was told that the steering is working as designedly! I am trading this puppy in even as we speak."
By George on Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Character, comfortable, quick, fun."
Cons: "So-so fuel economy, some interior quality issues"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I bought my 2012 Beetle as a certified pre-owned vehicle from a local VW dealership. It has been the car of my dreams since I was a kid (even though I am a guy). I bought my Tornado Red bug cash and drove home with a smile on my face. Mine had the window issue, which was replaced under warranty. I also had my seat cushion replaced from collapsing (no, I am not fat), a few speakers replaced due to rattling, and an attempt at silencing some squeaks and rattles in the interior. Everything was replaced effortlessly, but the squeaks and rattles come and go. In the bigger picture, it is a minor issue. It is roomy up front (I am 6ft tall) and is comfortable for extended drives. It rides well and soaks up bumps. It isn't "sporty" but can definitely be tossed around a bit. Mechanically the car is a dream. The 2.5 5 cylinder is the safe way to go; it is a tried and true powertrain with the 6-speed auto. It is not fast, but very torquey and pulls. Gas mileage lags in city, and could be better highway but VW's gas engines were never known to be fuel efficient. I average about 23-24 mpg in mixed driving and 29-30 mpg on full highway trips. Not too bad when you consider the size of the engine and the power you get. All in all, I am completely satisfied with my bug. I plan to never get rid of it and keep it by my side, even as a second car. It is an unmistakable fashion statement and icon. It is something that people of all ages can point out in a crowd. Buy one, but get a later model (2013+) they seemed to have worked the bugs out of those. (no pun intended haha)"
By The Pretty One on Thursday, December 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,200overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, comfort seating, good traction"
Cons: "doesn't pump its own gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my 3rd VW Beetle in a row. I had a 1999, 2006 and now this, my 2013. I have traveled the US from Maine to Florida and NJ to CA. I won't drive anything else unless someone would give me a free car. I will only buy VW products. Best comfort for sitting long periods of time. I have even slept in the car comfortably during my travels and I am 5'10". I get about 34 mpg/hwy when the avg norm is 28 mpg/hwy. I recommend this car to anyone who doesn't have to haul a houseful, although I have moved a studio apt in mine. Take care of your car and it will take care of you."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By BIG DADDY on Friday, December 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, horsepower, design, a blast to drive, mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"2012 Launch Edition Beetle. This car has been a solid, solid well built vehicle. This car is very well designed. Handles corners very well. This car is high class German engineering at its finest. 200 horsepower, other than a little turbo lag, this little car is quick. I am a little under 6 foot tall and around 300 pounds, and I am not cramped in this car, however the driver's seat is designed for someone a bit smaller. I commute to work which is hills and curves and I average 35.5 mpg. Now that premium fuel is reasonably priced, filling it up. Trunk area will surprise you with how much it will hold. Tires are somewhat expensive and not eas to find (19") but look great and handle very well."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Lanny on Sunday, November 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price point very fun to drive"
Cons: "back seat accessability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Very Sporty Fun to Drive Handles like a sports car. The styling was my first attraction along with the price point."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Ray on Sunday, November 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sound system, much fun to drive."
Cons: "None, just need the van."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great vehicle, we love it. Bought it for the wife. She has became wheel chair bound and only got to drive it one time. Will sell to get handicapped van."
6 people out of 14 found this review helpful