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First Drive: Volkswagen Beetle Design 2.0 TDI

By / 8 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

Sector: Lower medium Price: £20,085 Fuel: 57.6mpg CO2: 129g/km

The new Beetle may look closer than ever to the original, but as of this summer there’s never been a broader range of engines available. From the full-fat 2.0 turbocharged petrol to the environmentally friendly diesels and 1.2 TSI lower down the range, there’s a Bug to suit pretty much every buyer.

At the top of the diesel offerings, at least for now, is the familiar 138bhp 2.0 TDI. The Beetle may not be the affordable peoples’ car it once was, but this is the real workhorse of the range. It’s got over three times the power of the original rear-engined original, but thanks to its refined modern engine it’s three times as powerful too, returning 57.6mpg and emitting 129g/km CO2.

The 2.0 TDI is available only on the retro Design trim and masculine Sport version, with larger wheels and a rear spoiler. Design versions are arguably prettier, though. It’s a little closer to that classic silhouette and has the no-cost option of retro alloy wheels designed to look like the classic Beetle’s steel rims, which are a must-have.

Drivers used to the engine will find no surprises here. It’s a refined unit with progressive power delivery and almost no clatter, while also being long-legged enough to shrug off distance driving. The test route wasn’t long enough to get a feel for economy, but based on other Volkswagen Group models it should impress here too.

Tall drivers might suffer on longer trips, though. The Beetle’s roofline is low, closer to a Scirocco than the Golf, but its body-coloured dashboard inserts mean it’s not gloomy inside. Otherwise it’s as robust and comfortable as the rest of the mid-size Group offerings, meaning there’s substance to match the style.

What you don’t get is the BlueMotion Technology package fitted to the equivalent Scirocco. The same engine, fitted to the tougher-looking Scirocco, returns 62.8mpg and emits 118gkm, but the car itself costs over £2,000 more. It’d be a worthwhile bolt-on for the Beetle.


Based on the Golf, UK buyers are most likely to go for the also very capable 1.2 TSI or 1.6 TDI, but the larger diesel gives regular long distance drivers a gutsier version which doesn’t dent fuel economy too much.

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.