Wednesday – Beetle Drive

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Jeremy – It’s our last day with the Beetle, VW‘s answer to the retro Mini. But while the Mini has morphed into a variety of oddities, the Bug now looks better than ever.

The masculine, squat shape make the VW more purposeful than ever and there’s an exceptional interior that’s not only a pleasure to sit in but fairly practical too.

Sitting on the latest Golf platform, the Beetle is a better drive than the previous model, even though I would opt for the more refined 2.0-litre engine rather than the 1.4 we tried, which has to be worked exceptionally hard to prove enjoyable.

There’s just enough performance to make the high revving 1.4 fun. The steering is more precise and there is a surprising amount of grip on twisty roads. That said, somehow it doesn’t have the precision of the Golf through the bends.

If you want a roomy, practical hatchback for the family buy a Golf. For those who want something that turns a few heads and stands out from the crowd, the Beetle remains almost as cool as it was 40 years ago.

Tuesday – Marmite & Baked Beans

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Jeremy – I’ve just dropped off three friends at Heathrow Airport. They’re heading to their French home for six months and I was a bit worried that madam would not get her suitcase full of exotic English fare – Marmite, baked beans, porridge – in the boot of the Beetle.

The last generation ‘new’ Beetle admittedly had a crazy small luggage area but this latest one has grown considerably, a full 50 per cent bigger in fact. The only problem with our test car is that the subwoofer for the Fender sound system does eat up a large chunk of space by the wheel arch.

We managed four suitcases in the back, plus coats, hand luggage and other kit. Only one, carry-on size case had to be squeezed in the middle of the back seat. Impressive.

So the latest Beetle really is a lot more practical than you might think. The retro flip-up glovebox is actually big enough to use – the last version had a flat dash – and there’s plenty more space for long legs in the back.

 

 

Monday – Cabin Fever

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Jeremy Another sunshiny day – just wish the sunroof in the Beetle would open a little bit further! At least when it gets too hot there is an electric blind to keep the heat down in the cabin.

For anybody who remembers sitting in the rear of the last generation Beetle, this one does seem to have more leg and headroom, despite the lower roof line. You can also lower the two back seats for a bigger boot space.

The Beetle cabin is very lovely place to be. There’s a neat centre armrest that just seems to sit at the right height, lots of cubbyholes and a trendy, drop down glovebox that looks very retro indeed.

I’m off to London today – tomorrow’s report will reveal how well the VW copes with the hustle and bustle of the Kings Road….

Friday – Tough As Old Boots

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Jeremy  It’s Friday – surely we are due another Bank Holiday? No, well, I’ll have to make do with driving the toughened up, all-new Beetle to the coast instead.

On the way down to Poole I passed a gem of a ‘proper’ Beetle, which naturally gives us the opportunity to print the picture about. How did VW manage to design a car back then that really was so classless, iconic and timeless too?

They carried on making the classic-shaped Beetle in central America for years after it stopped in Germany  – in fact, they may well still make them in Mexico now. But the point is, VW could have just as easily stuck a new engine in the old car, beefed up the brakes and added some modern technology to the old car. It would have been a huge hit and outsold new Mini for sure!

That said, the low, squat shape of the newest Beetle model is brilliant. I love the styling from every angle, the little spoiler on the rear of our Sport model and the chrome trim along the bottom of the doors.

I’m not so excited about the 1.4 engine. The 2.0 petrol of the 2.0 TDI are definitely the way to go, even though that does drive the price up. Buy your new Beetle wisely…

Wednesday – Summer Bug

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Jeremy  Owning a Beetle was a right of passage back in the 1970s. Jessica drove hers from the family home in Cornwall to the south of France to ‘study French‘ – my blue convertible was a complete disaster and ended up in a court case!

Even so, just like a classic film that should never be reworked by modern day Hollywood, there were plenty around who argued that VW should not have brought the Beetle back 13 years ago in a modernised form.

I owned one of those too, to go with my 1963 VW camper van. But while one of them had bags of charisma and oozed cool, the other didn’t. No prizes for guessing which.

So, the arrival of the new ‘new’ Beetle this morning was greeted with mixed emotions. More butch, better looking and equipped with a much stronger range of engines, how does the latest model fare?

Well, all I can tell you so far after a quick drive to the shops, is that the Beetle is considerably better than the last one. I’m loving the stylish interior, the attention to detail – and that fact the sun started shining the minute it pulled up on the driveway.

More tomorrow when I’ve soaked up the atmosphere a little more…

Tuesday – Animal Attraction

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Jeremy  It’s taken a week of head scratching but I’ve finally decided what creature the Suzuki Swift Sport reminds me of. It’s a very friendly bee.

The combination of looks and zippy performance fit perfectly – it fair buzzes along on a country road and those twin exhaust pipes give off a raspy little roar when you slip down a gear and pick the revs up.

So what do other cars look like? Well, the VW Scirocco is definitely a Ninja Turtle and the Bugatti Veyron resembles a koala bear head on. Sadly, from the front, the excellent BMW 5 Series does resemble a hippo. Didn’t somebody in design see that one coming?

The old Fiat Multipla was always a duck-billed platypus, the Peugeot 208 a very angry shark, while the Lotus Elise was entirely designed on the front of an angry wasp. Of course, VW capitalised on the whole idea many years ago of course. The Beetle was, and still is shaped liked a Beetle…

 

Sunday – Golf, Lights, Action…

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Jeremy Eight months ago I went to buy a Mk VI Volkswagen Golf. I drove out of the dealership in a VW Beetle. Mid-life crisis? Maybe but in black, with a glass roof, cool wheels and the latest ‘squat’ look, I enjoyed a temporary moment of madness.

What really clinched the deal was the Beetle’s interior. Great seats, quality switchgear and illuminated door trim – neat lines of subtle light that ran along the length of the doors above the arm rests. A control on the dashboard could even change the colour ‘mood’ from blue, to red to white!

Last night, driving home in CarCouture’s Mk VII Golf was the first time I had taken the hatchback out in the dark. The cabin is a relaxed and refined place to be and VW has used the same door lighting fitted in the Beetle to brighten up the Golf interior.

Now, Golf drivers aren’t the sort of people who want to change their mood lighting at the flick of a switch – that would be a little racy for the benchmark hatchback. But the interior of the Golf is beautifully understated, supremely comfortable and, with features like the lighting system, you feel like you are travelling first class.