Where else to gain public opinions on the latest VW Beetle than at a place called Ferry Road Diner on the Gold Coast? It’s a well known meeting place on Friday nights for all things retro, mainly those on four wheels. The diner has a carpark the size of a drive-in movie theatre, that becomes an informal show’n’shine of classic metal.
The model range includes a 1.4 TSI five-door hatch in both DSG automatic and manual, valued at $32,490 and $29,990 respectively. There is also a special ‘Fender’ edition, with a custom exterior badge, a dash inspired by the Fender guitar manufacturer and a premium audio system. The Beetle Fender 1.4 TSI comes in DSG automatic, and is valued at $34,490.
VW offer two option packages with the Beetle. One is a technology package that includes Bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless access, power folding external mirrors and low pressure tyre indicators.
Our test Beetle was fitted with the sports package: 18-inch `Twister' alloy wheels, tinted side and rear windows, sports instruments on the dash centre and paddle gearshift paddles with the DSG.
We rocked up in a new VeeDub Beetle, bright red in colour and sporting a great set of 18-inch twister alloy wheels. And found ourselves sharing parking space with thumping Chevys, A-Model Fords, an Excalibur, and a couple of Cadillacs. As about the only car under the age of 40 years, our Beetle stood out like a bright red sore thumb. It delighted us in getting more than its fair share of admirers.
The next day we went to the supermarket and again the Beetle attracted plenty of lookers ... all of them smiling, with quite a few wanting to talk to us about the new shape.
The first New Beetle looked cute and feminine. The new model (simply called the Beetle, the ‘New’ has gone) has a wider-stance lower roof and longer body that allowed designers to replace cute with curve. The roof extends further back and it's now a better proportioned car.
The benefits include an increase in boot capacity from 209 litres up to 310 litres. Fold the seats down and it leaps to 910 litres. This is a coupe rather than a hatchback so is a car for singles or couples, not really being suited to family use.
Volkswagen Beetle for 2013 comes with one powertrain only at this stage. It’s a 1.4-litre Twin-charged petrol engine with 118 kW of power and 240Nm of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox, or a seven-speed DSG automatic at a $2500 premium. Our test car was the auto.
It's a modest-performing car, though you wouldn't describe it as a slouch. The DSG can be a little slow and catchy at slow speeds as are many other double-clutch automated manuals.
Anticipate other engines to come later, probably with powerplants borrowed from the yet to be announced VW Golf GTi.
The 2013 Beetle has a five-star safety rating from Australasian NCAP thanks to standard stability program, four airbags and a tough laser-welded and galvanised body that has a high torsional rigidity. The car feels strong and solid in the Volkswagen tradition.
Tilt and reach steering is standard and we had no trouble finding a comfortable driving position - something that couldn't be said about the old New Beetle.
Ride comfort is good on most surfaces and the slightly firm suspension provides the sort of handling that keen drivers will appreciate.
The cabin will also bring a smile to most people's faces. The colour matches whatever exterior you select and in our test car that was bright red where it matters, on the doors and across the 1950's style dashboard. New VW Beetle has a large speedo in front of the driver in a separate binnacle. It’s easy to read at a slightest glance and revives memories of the old air-cooled cars.
A sports coupe it’s not, but the 2013 Beetle will be given the nod by all but full-on revheads.
Beetle 1.4 TSI: $29,990 (manual), $32,490 (DSG automatic)
Beetle Fender 1.4 TSI: $34,490 (DSG automatic)
Volkswagen Beetle 1.4 TSI Five-door hatch
Price: from $29,990
Engine: 1.4-litre 4-cyl petrol, 118kW/240Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 7-speed DSG Auto, Front-wheel drive
Thirst: 7.9L/100km, 148g/km CO2