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Why Beetle bug's still going strong.

Byline: Patrick James

THERE are some cars that the public never seem to tire of and VW's iconic Beetle is one of them.

More than 22.5 million Beetles have been sold since the original model was created in 1938, putting it among the world's top three most successful cars of all time; over one million of these were New Beetles, of which more than 68,000 were sold in the UK from 1998.

In that time even Hollywood got involved with the comedy The Love Bug, starring Herbie, a 1963 Beetle, which produced several spin-offs.

The Bug had a distinctive styling, some of which is almost replicated in the latest Beetle R-Line.

Trim levels are Beetle, Design, R-Line and Dune and all feature air conditioning and DAB radio, electric windows and alloy wheels. As you move up the range, a multi-function leather steering wheel, MDI (multi-device interface), Bluetooth and colour coordinated dash and door panels, dual-zone air conditioning, parking sensors and gloss black wing mirrors become available.

The R Design is certainly one of the most eye-catching Beetles, with its individual body kit, R-Line logos inside and outside, brilliant (optional) orange livery, body-coloured rear diffuser, chromed twin exhausts, gloss black door mirrors and door protectors and rear tailgate spoiler. Not forgetting, of course, the go-faster stripe on the bonnet, roof and boot, which is also an option, giving it that Herbie look. The colour scheme and stripes on this model added more than PS1,300 to the price.

The comparison with Herbie ends there, really, because the Beetle, facelifted in the past 12 months is a different proposition.

The "new" Beetle was launched in 1998 but the latest model is a bigger car, longer and wider with more muscular-looking, with a longer bonnet and bigger boot.

It shares much of its underpinnings with the excellent Golf, which is no bad thing.

The controls are clear and legible, with the centrepiece being the multi-device interface screen, which controls satnav, where fitted, connectivity and sound systems.

Another neat, if slightly cosmetic but sporty, touch are the three small gauges sitting on top of the dash, which measure, among other things, turbo performance, which, incidentally, is pretty good on this model during initial acceleration.

There are four figure-hugging seats and the extra length means legroom is good, as is headroom for all occupants.

The rear seats fold for extra storage capacity with 310 litres opening up to 905 litres.

As a three-door, the two huge doors make access to the rear relatively easy, but care needs to be taken opening doors in tight parking spaces.

Four engines are available, two petrol and two diesel. There is a 1.2-litre TSI 105ps and a 1.4-litre TSI 150ps petrol plus a 2.0-litre TDI with a choice of 110ps or 150ps as driven here.

All offer good performance across the VW range, while the more powerful diesel here offers plenty of pace and decent economy through stop/start technology, plus low emissions.

It can hit 60mph in 8.9 seconds, while delivering a claimed 61.4mpg. These figures are often misleading but the economy didn't seem that far off the mark.

On the road, the latest suspension set-up allows for an engaging drive.

The car feels well planted and agile, while the ride is much improved on the previous model.

This model has an on-the-road price of PS23,275 and for that price you might expect satnav and keyless entry with starter button to be thrown in, but these are extras.

Safety is comprehensive, with twin front and side airbags, plus ABS and stability programme all standard.

Looking for something that has an iconic feel and is a little out of the ordinary but has Golf-like qualities? Then this is worth a look - and you can even have it without the go-faster stripes.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 14, 2017
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