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2017 Volkswagen Beetle Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle was new.


Performance: 6.8

The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle's base four-cylinder engine delivers brisk acceleration, and the available 2.0-liter four-cylinder is even livelier. Both are turbocharged. The Beetle's poised handling and comfy ride make it a great city and highway cruiser, however some of its competitors feel more athletic and composed through turns. Fuel economy estimates are low for the class.

  • "The 2017 Volkswagen Beetle's engine output numbers may not be all that impressive, but the 1.8-liter has plenty of real-world power. You don't have to floor the pedal to force a downshift, and its 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds is quick for the class." -- Edmunds
  • "Depending on which turbocharged gasoline engine you choose, the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle feels like a peppy go-kart or a racy coupe. … If you're seeking GTI-like acceleration, the R-Line's 210-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo can deliver it." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Dune comes with a flat-bottom steering wheel, but that doesn't make its steering particularly sporty. We found its steering to be vague and unsatisfying at moderate speeds." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The Volkswagen Beetle 1.8T comes equipped with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 170 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. A manual transmission is no longer available. The Beetle R-Line has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 210 horsepower. It’s paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The 2017 VW Beetle with the 1.8-liter engine returns an EPA-estimated 24/33 mpg city/highway, which is low for the class. The diesel-powered Beetle TDI is currently unavailable in the U.S. 

  • "Most Beetles, including the Dune and all convertibles, use a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that most buyers will find plenty adequate for highway cruising and zipping around the city." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Acceleration is good whether you're pulling away from a stoplight or looking to overtake a semi on the freeway." -- Edmunds
  • "Unfortunately there's no manual transmission option, but shift from D to S on the six-speed automatic, and the Dune is especially peppy and eager to move. It's a great city dash-about." -- Motor Trend

Handling and Braking

The 2017 VW Beetle offers a comfortable ride and well-balanced handling, making it a good cruiser both in the city and on the highway. The R-Line model takes the Beetle’s athleticism a step further. Its ride is firm, but not uncomfortable.

  • "Steering effort is a bit heavier than expected, making the Beetle feel more controllable at highway speeds than its rivals, yet very light when maneuvering at slow speeds. The thin-rimmed steering wheel feels a little flimsy, though." -- Edmunds
  • "While the R-Line's stiffer suspension provides better handling, it's not too stiff. Overall, the Beetle returns a softer ride than the Mini Cooper or Fiat 500, and its interior is quieter and more comfortable. At freeway speeds, the Beetle feels stable and solid, returning the kind of ride and handling more commonly associated with a midsize sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Quiet and smooth on the freeway and on city streets, the #PinkBeetle coupe (or any other similarly equipped Beetle coupe) is the choice for those looking for the most refined ride." -- Motor Trend

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