$12,655 - $25,805

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Volkswagen Beetle was new.


Performance: 7.4

Auto writers say the Volkswagen Beetle's base four-cylinder engine provides strong acceleration, and the available 2.0-liter four-cylinder is even livelier. Test drivers appreciate the Beetle's poised handling and comfortable ride, but say some rivals feel more athletic and composed through turns. Fuel economy estimates are low for the class.

  • "Unfortunately, the driving experience for Beetle is more in line with the disappointing Jetta -- even the R-Line model -- because of the car's lackluster handling and steering." -- Edmunds
  • "This is built for comfortable cruising, not attacking corners." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "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 2016 Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T comes with a 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and either a six-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. The Beetle R-Line has a 210-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic. The 2016 VW Beetle with the base engine and automatic transmission gets an EPA-estimated 25/34 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class. The Beetle diesel model is currently unavailable in the U.S.

Reviewers say the Beetle's base engine is refined and provides lively acceleration. The R-Line delivers even greater power and pleasing engine sounds, they add. A few test drivers report that the manual transmission is easy to shift. They generally like the performance of the dual-clutch automatic in the R-Line but note it can be slow to respond when starting from a stop. 

  • "We're fond of the Beetle's two available engines. 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. The manual transmissions are quite possibly the most easily shifted do-it-yourself transmissions around, while the R-Line's sophisticated DSG gearbox is a nice compromise for those who want the convenience of an automatic with much of the performance and control of a manual. That said, the DSG's responses can be frustratingly slow when accelerating from a stop or in slow-moving traffic." -- Edmunds
  • "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 (2015)

Handling and Braking

The 2016 VW Beetle has a comfortable ride and controlled handling, reviewers say. Still, some complain of too much body roll through turns, and a few mention that some rivals offer a more engaging drive. While some auto writers think the Beetle's steering is well-weighted, others find it to be too light.

  • "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 Volkswagen Golf, let alone a Golf GTI or a Mini Cooper. When just cruising on city streets or on the highway, however, the Beetle is pretty comfortable." -- Edmunds
  • "Steering is light (though more or less predictable), and handling [is fairly] neutral, but there's a fair amount of roll." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "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)

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