The Washington Post

Bottom line: The 2012 Beetle is a viable alternative to the Fiat 500 and the BMW-sponsored Mini Cooper. VW’s insistence on keeping and substantially updating the Beetle will be welcomed by Beetle lovers worldwide.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets very good marks in all three. Normal drivers, those of us who don’t imagine public roads as race tracks, will have no problems with this one.

Head-turning quotient: The 2012 Beetle is not as cute as predecessor models. That is both good and bad. Those of us who wanted a less frilly, more robust Beetle applaud the changes. Those who believe that a flower vase has an appropriate place in a passenger car will be unhappy — it’s been expunged.

Body style/layout: The 2012 Beetle is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive subcompact car available in several iterations, including a Beetle Turbo. Volkswagen clearly is serious about keeping this one going. The company plans to introduce a diesel-powered Beetle in 2013.

Engines/transmissions: There are two engines — including a 2.5-liter, 20-valve in-line five-cylinder model (170 horsepower, 177 foot-pounds of torque) and a turbocharged 2-liter, 16-valve in-line four-cylinder version (200 horsepower, 207 foot-pounds of torque). The five-cylinder model is attached to a standard five-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged four-cylinder version currently gets a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually. A six-speed manual gearbox is coming soon.

Capacities: There is comfortable seating for four adults. Cargo capacity is now a reasonable 15.4 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 14.5 gallons of gasoline. The five-cylinder engine takes regular-grade fuel. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine requires premium.

Mileage: In real-world driving, both versions got about 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. But the turbo was more of a hoot on the highway!

Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (vented front, solid rear); four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance and electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; side and head air bags; and post-collision safety system.

Pricing: The 2012 Beetle Turbo currently starts at $23,395. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $22,459. The base 2012 Beetle starts at $18,995. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $18,235. There are options aplenty, plus a $770 destination charge on both cars, all of which will add to the cost of your bottom line.

Show Comments

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.