Andrex Extra Soft Blog Roll

It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

>Beetle Drive

>Today of all days I have had the task of driving a “new” shape Volkswagen Beetle home with the idea of delivering it to another dealership tomorrow morning. As the main roads were pretty crammed I thought I’d take the country roads and through the villages then back on to main roads and make a mini road test out of it. This would put it through its paces a bit.

So, the road test begins. Or rather it doesn’t because the car will not start, so out with the jump back and its engine bursts, if that is the phrase, into life. The first thing that strikes me is the door. Because I hit my head on it, but that is another story. No, the thing that strikes me is the shape of the car which is one of those marmite love-it-or-hate-it shapes. To me it’s like marmite, and I hate marmite. The shape, naturally, is reminiscent of the the old Beetle, which means it looks like it was designed by a 6 year old with some crayons.

Now, the old Beetle is famous for two reasons. Never actually being named “Beetle” by Volkswagen and being designed by Hitler. The newer one is famous for actually being named “Beetle” by Volkswagen and not being designed by Hitler. So we have one plus point already, but hang on a second. Not being designed by Hitler does not make this a good car. The original VW Type 1 (the correct name for Beetle) was designed as the People’s Car (which translates into German as Volks Wagen). The current shape is nothing more than a rebodied Golf, but with an over-inflated price tag. It certainly isn’t a “People’s Car” per say. More fashion accessory, but one that went out of date quite some time ago.

So, the exterior is childlike at best and ugly at worst. So what is the interior like? Well, this particular model of Beetle has leather seats which you can find a comfortable driving position in quite easily. But comfort in the rear is severely compromised due to the sloping roof. The only way to travel in comfort in the back of a Beetle is to cut your head off. The dashboard itself is the size of a small country and appears to be made out of the same plastics they use to make DVD cases, only less robust. What does surprise me is that with the huge expanse of dashboard, the buttons are scattered all over the place. Two of which are on the door, they operate electric motors that open the fuel filler and the tailgate. I’m used to Italian cars so finding switches underneath the seat, behind the sun visor and outside on the number plates are no problem to me, I just kind of expected a little bit more ergonomic sense from the Germans. The world-renowned German sense of humour is present though, with a dashboard mounted vase and flower aimed at those those “Peace and Love” hippies out there. However, in reality those people now drive a Prius.

The steering wheel, though, is in the correct place. Which is strange because it has absolutely no say in the direction of travel. Really, you can expect more communication from BT than from the Beetle’s steering set up. The ride is good, with soft damping but ultimately this set up borders on soggy and compromises the handling as a result. At best, this is a rather ordinary handling car. Having said that, it is to be expected as it uses a bog standard Mark 4 Golf chassis, which even as a GTI the dynamics were as sharp as blu tack. I’m led to believe that the convertible is even worse, so please never insist I drive one of those. Please. I’m too vulnerable to be called a tosser and actually hear it with the roof down.

The drivetrain, like the chassis is pure Mk4 Golf. This means means unlike the old Beetle, the engine is, for once in the correct place and not out at the back. It’s a 2 litre 8 valve unit which is a bit of a lazy sod really. I mean it’s got the performance (just about), it’s just so leisurely in the way it gets there. It’s coupled to a rather clunky, baulky 5 speed manual gearbox which inspires gear changes like S Club 7 inspire Bob Dylan. Which is a little bit of a sorry state of affairs when you consider the gearbox is better than the brakes, which take a 5 working days to bring you to a stop. Which it did in my drive way eventually.

So, to tally up the scores:

Styling: 1/20
Performance: 9/20
Handling 6/20
Ride: 9/20
Comfort: 9/20

So out of a possible 100, the Beetle scores 34. Oh dear. So, would I ever own a new shape Beetle? Work out the maths yourself. What’s more, the horror stories over the lack of reliability (remember these are Mexican and Brazilian built VWs, not built in Germany), electrical problems, brake and transmission problems and general poor build quality, coupled to that styling and the well below par driving experience sum up a car that’s best avoided at all costs. Save your money and buy a Fabia instead. They’re better looking, more practical, better to drive, fantastic value and far more reliable. Ironically, the only current “Volks Wagen” in the Volkswagen Group’s lineup is made not by VW themselves, but by Skoda.

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August 3, 2010 - Posted by | Motoring

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