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Volkswagen Beetle Performance

Critics think the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle is better suited for cruising on the highway than sporty driving on winding roads. They like its comfortable ride, lively engine lineup and poised handling, though they note that some rivals are more athletic.

  • "Depending on your priorities, you might also be disappointed in the way the Beetle drives. While its engines are strong, it's not a particularly rewarding car to drive around turns, as neither the steering nor the brakes instill much confidence for spirited driving." -- Edmunds
  • "This is built for comfortable cruising, not attacking corners. …" -- AutoWeek
  • "Driving the 2013 Beetle, we are both entertained and disappointed. Entertained, because it does everything well: All controls feel direct and responsive, and the behavior is stable and refined. Disappointed, because we wish this latest iteration of the Beetle had the more spirited dynamics of VW's GTI, one of our all-time favorites." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets very good marks in all three. Normal drivers, those of us who don’t imagine public roads as race tracks, will have no problems with this one." -- The Washington Post (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 VW Beetle comes standard with a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is optional. The R-Line 2.0T has a 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, while the TDI has a 150-horsepower, turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Both the R-Line and the TDI come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and are available with a six-speed automated manual. According to the EPA, the base 2015 Volkswagen Beetle with an automatic gets 25/33 mpg city/highway, which is on the lower end of the small car segment. However, the Beetle TDI gets 31/41, which is excellent for the class.

Most reviewers think the base Beetle 1.8T is fairly lively, though they note that the 2.0T feels more potent and its engine sounds excellent. The TDI earns praise for its peppy acceleration and superb fuel economy.

  • "There's a whole bunch of ways to configure your dream Bug and this base motor, the 1.8-liter turbo, isn't an underwhelming entry point." -- AutoWeek
  • "We're fond of all three of the available engines in the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle. The turbocharged 1.8-liter engine is smooth, powerful and provides respectable fuel economy. The more powerful engine in the Beetle R-Line has even more punch and sounds great. Like other Volkswagen diesel models, the Beetle TDI provides plenty of low-speed shove and very good fuel economy." -- Edmunds

Handling and Braking

Some test drivers say the 2015 VW Beetle has poised handling, responsive steering and strong brakes. However, others write that it leans noticeably during cornering and doesn’t feel as agile as rivals like the Fiat 500 Abarth and Mini Cooper S. Most reviewers point out that the Beetle has a very composed ride for a small car.

  • "Steering is light (though more or less predictable), and handling fairly is neutral, but there's a fair amount of roll." -- AutoWeek
  • "The Beetle's handling is respectably adept, though the car's overall abilities and steering response are well short of what you'll get from a Fiat 500 Abarth or Mini Cooper S. When just cruising on city streets or on the highway, however, the Beetle is pretty comfortable." -- Edmunds
  • "Bumps are soaked up with unusual grace by economy-car standards, while the handling is respectable, if not exactly athletic." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "Tactile, properly weighted power steering adds to driving enjoyment, while strong, easily modulated brakes add to driver confidence." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
Review Last Updated: 1/26/15

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