2017 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T Review

Published On August 30, 2017 | By Isaac Bouchard | Auto Reviews, First Drive Review, First Drives

In the wake of Dieselgate, which is costing VW some tens of billions of dollars, we can forget they build some durn’ fine driving automobiles. The Beetle is one of them, and if doesn’t catch the current zeitgeist of crossover craziness, it also is a stark reminder that cars—you know, those low center-of-gravity conveyances—actually ride, handle, steer, accelerate and brake better than most all of the jacked up little hatchbacks that masquerade as SUVs.

Certainly those built using the brilliant modular MQB componentry underneath the Beetle’s surprising masculine curves. And to these eyes, it is much better proportioned than the current Minis, whose bodies often look like the bloated corpses of prior generation Coopers that have washed ashore after their container ship has run aground. Inside, the body-colored dash facing (a brilliant Habanero metallic orange in the case of the test vehicle) gives the VW a summery, beach-ready vibe that is hard not to fall for. Controls are logical and well-weighted, and if most all materials are of an economical nature, the perceived quality is still very high. The newest infotainment system interface is decently responsive, though its screen resolution looks a bit low rent.

The Beetle certainly doesn’t drive that way; the chassis balances good ride with athletic, engaging handling and the steering is precise and quick. The 170hp 1.8-liter’s 184lb-ft of torque are readily accessed in the 6-speed tranny’s sport mode; normal sees the engine’s turbo lag become more of an annoyance. The Beetle is quick: 0-60mph can be tackled in about seven seconds. Brake feel and power seem up to the task, meaning that the VW can play GTI when the mood strikes. The rest of the time it is a fetching little runabout that is also practical (its got a hatch) and friendly.

2017 VW Beetle 1.8T SE

EPA ratings: 24/33mpg; 28mpg combined

0-60mph: 7.0sec

Price as tested: $24,415

Here is what VW has to say.

(4 / 5)

Contact Isaac Bouchard for help saving time, money and hassle when buying or leasing one at isaac@bespokeautos.com

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About The Author

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Isaac Bouchard’s combined experience in automotive retailing and writing is unrivaled. Since 1991 he has been an auto broker, selling and leasing new and used vehicles at all price points, as well as arranging financing and handling trade-in vehicles. Over the decades, he has helped his thousand-plus clients save over $1 million dollars on their cars, trucks and SUVs. Isaac has also been a professional automotive journalist for over 12 years, writing for newspapers, magazines (both in the US and abroad) and producing and hosting videos on car reviews and car buying for a multitude of sites. Isaac has worked on or with cars his entire life, including mechanical work, detailing and body work, car racing and instruction, including stints with the renowned Skip Barber and MasterDrive schools, the Porsche and BMW car clubs and the SCCA. He has also personally owned over 65 vehicles. Isaac lives in Denver, Colorado.

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