Volkswagen Beetle Leasing

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Volkswagen Beetle Reviews

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Can Volkswagen's third generation Beetle be more than just a lifestyle statement? Jonathan Crouch reports on the improved version.

Once more, Volkswagen has reinvented the Beetle. Bigger and more efficient than its predecessor, the third generation version might not look quite so extrovert but it's a far better car, especially since Volkswagen uprated the range of engines on offer. More importantly for its target market amongst retro rivals, this car for many will be a very style-conscious choice. Aesthetics matter. Go on. Live a beautiful life.

A million New Beetles - the second generation version of this iconic design - were sold over thirteen years, 68,000 of them in the UK, but the modern turn of the century take on this iconic design was never quite the success it might have been. The curvy Toytown looks and touches like the flower vase on the dash left it as an exclusively feminine and fashion-centric choice, buyers who quickly forsook its charms when at the turn of the century the New MINI and much later, the reinvented Fiat 500 came along. With the third generation Beetle it introduced in 2012, Volkswagen signalled its determination to tempt these customers back, aiming to achieve that with ta MK3 model that, aesthetically at least, is much closer to the design of the original. Longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, it's intended to look more sporty, masculine and dynamic. And because the Golf underpinnings remain - this time more modern ones - it can be a more practical choice than its retro rivals. The engines on offer have recently been improved and so, in turn, have the performance and running cost figures. Add perky performance and a dash of hi-tech and you've a car that could reignite the Beetle cult all over again. Let's try it.

Let's cut to the chase. No, this car doesn't offer quite as good an overall ride and handling package as you'll find in the Golf, but to compare these two cars is an irrelevance. You'll buy a Beetle because it's a bit of fun and because there aren't too many compromises required in doing so. And that's all a million miles from the dull, sensible practicality of Golf motoring. Even Golf GTI motoring, this hot hatch having donated many of the underpinnings for this car. Including a 220PS version of its turbocharged petrol engine for the top 2.0 TSI Beetle which fires it to 62mph in 6.7s on the way to 145mph. This is the only Beetle variant to feature the Golf's state-of-the-art multi-link rear suspension set-up. Lesser models - the ones most people will actually buy - get a simpler, cheaper torsion beam arrangement, hence perhaps the slightly poorer ride. It's one of these we tried, a car with an engine that's anything but retro. This is the 1.4 TSI model, probably pick of the range, offering a 150PS output from an engine that uses both supercharging and turbocharging to produce a healthy 250Nm of torque, good enough to see this car to sixty from rest in 8.7s, so it's nearly as quick as the 2.0-litre variant. It's pretty good round the twisty stuff too, like its larger-engined stablemate sharing the Golf GTI's clever XDS electronic differential lock. This improves handling through fast corners by selectively braking the unloaded wheel on the inside of the curve, so preventing wheelspin and firing the car through the bend. But even rejuvenated Beetle motoring isn't really about high performance and with that in mind, you may feel minded to save a little and opt for the lower-powered petrol derivative or a diesel. Petrol-wise, you're looking at a turbocharged 1.2 TSI unit, surprisingly punchy despite its modest 105PS output. With 175Nm of torque on tap, sixty here is 10.9s away en route to 112mph. The diesel option is a 2.0 TDI unit offered with either 110 or 150PS.

We're looking here at the hardtop Coupe model but a Convertible is also offered. Go for the fixed-top version and against the odds, something of a feel of Dr Ferdinand Porsche's early 'Peoples' Car' has somehow made it through to this third generation model, most notably in the large wheels plumply positioned beneath the flared flowing arches and a rear C-pillar that follows the contours of the original design. So there's something of the past, artfully mixed with a sporty vision of the future. Moving inside this three-door-only bodyshape, you notice that the frameless doors open wide - but not so wide as to make ingress difficult in tight parking spaces. And at the wheel, you're seated behind a traditional upright dashboard with a set of three traditional dials visible through a sporty three-spoke thin-rimmed wheel. Unfortunately, the plastics are traditional too, so no Golf-like soft-touch surfaces. Still, the quality seems good even if the Mexican factory doesn't seem to screw things together quite up to German-fabricated Golf standards. Still, the look and feel all seems to suit this car's retro vibe, especially with the body-coloured door sill and dash inserts you get on plusher models. And on that subject, other early Beetle touches include the upwards-opening glovebox, natty elastic straps instead of door pockets and the optional auxiliary instruments you can specify to sit above the infotainment controls. You'll look in vain for the MK2 Beetle's dash-mounted flower vase though. Good.

Expect to pay somewhere in the £17,000 to £25,000 bracket for most versions of the hardtop Beetle model we're looking at here, depending on the model and spec you decide upon. That's not bad value in Volkswagen terms, something aided perhaps by the fact that this car is Mexican-built with more affordable labour. Though a 220PS 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine has been developed for this car, along with 110 and 150PS versions of a frugal 2.0-litre diesel, most UK sales will be of the 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol engines that this car was launched with. So, what are the features you can expect to find, regardless of your choice between 1.2 or 1.4-litre petrol power? Well, it's a bit disappointing to find that the entry-level model does without an alarm, alloy wheels or Bluetooth 'phone compatibility but all models do get Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning that also cools the glovebox, a trip computer, power heated mirrors, electric windows, an 8-speaker MP3-compatible CD stereo with aux-in point and a hill-holder clutch to stop you from drifting backwards on uphill junctions.

Sensible virtues probably won't be top of your agenda in selecting a Beetle, but should they happen to be, then you'll need to be talking to your dealer about the 110PS 2.0-litre TDI diesel version, as it comes with all of Volkswagen's cleverest 'BlueMotion Technology' efficiency tweaks: low rolling resistance tyres, a battery regeneration system and a stop start system that cuts the engine when you don't need it in traffic or at the lights. As a result, it'll emit just 112g/km of carbon dioxide and can return an impressive 65.7mpg on the combined cycle which will give a usefully long operating range from the 55-litre fuel tank. As for the petrol models, well the entry-level 1.2 TSI manages 51.4mpg on the combined cycle and 128g/km, while the 1.4 TSI delivers 48.7mpg and 134g/km. And residual values? Well, for the time being, a Beetle is fashionable again - and that means this car will hold onto the money you've paid very well - better probably than a comparable Golf. Whether that'll continue to be the case long term will probably depend upon the vagaries of fashion. Insurance isn't too prohibitive, to give you an idea rated at either group 11 for the 1.2 or group 18 for this 1.4, these groupings on the 1-50 scale.

You could argue that in this MK3 design, we finally have the proper Beetle tribute model we should have had in the first place. This car borrows its heritage, its silhouette and its retro uniqueness from the post-war original, but fuses it with the sort of fuel economy, safety and creature comforts that the modern buyer demands - without the retro excesses and gender-specific touches of the second generation car. This time round, the sportier look is matched by a sportier feel from an efficient range of engines but even so, this is a design you'll still either love or hate. Which is just as it should be. A model like this remains an unashamed indulgence, both on the part of its maker and those who will buy it. True, the trend modern Beetles once set for High Street chic has now been copied by a whole clutch of rivals. Yet you can see why loyal owners love this Volkswagen so much. It certainly isn't a rational choice. But then, if we did everything for rational reasons, the world would be very dull indeed. Just as its original predecessor did over seventy years ago, this car has made the automotive landscape just that little bit brighter.

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Why lease a Volkswagen Beetle?

The Beetle is an iconic car that people can identify straight away, it is known worldwide for its curvy bodywork and retro design. A massive seventy years has seen 22 million Volkswagen Beetle sales across the world, and this quirky hatchback is now in its 3rd generation. 

The Volkswagen Beetle has its own unique styling and a fantastic, high quality interior, and being a Volkswagen this doesn't surprise. In terms of specifications, it’s similar to the Volkswagen Golf. Engine types start from a petrol 1.2, a 1.4 is also offered as is a 2.0 litre. In diesel form there is a 2.0 TDi engine and trim levels go from Design through Dune and up to R-Line.

Reasons to lease a VW Beetle

  • VW reliability credentials
  • Well-built and good quality
  • Leasing a lot cheaper than buying as average RRP is £30,000
  • Economical yet fast
  • Good choice of trims
  • 3rd generation best of modern times

Conclusion

The Beetle is quite a niche car and isn't for everyone, but it is completely unique to anything else on the market and the 3rd generation model is probably the best example so far in-keeping with the retro design of the original but incorporating modern interiors, technology and driving aids. 

It's a practical car, it comes in quite a few variants but ulitmately it's a large premium hatchback/cabriolet with VW genes, so buying prices are fairly high. However, to lease one would cost a whole lot less as the cars maintain their residual values well so your monthly rentals should stay reasonable.

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