2017 Volkswagen Beetle Driving Impressions

Ride and handling are strong points, helped by precise, controlled steering. Beetles promise a sense of all-around refinement, along with a compliant ride. Suspensions effectively absorb pavement flaws. Ride comfort leans toward the soft side.

Cornering smartly, Beetles suffer minimal body roll even when driven energetically. Even in R-Line form, though, they aren’t as sporty in nature as their appearance and reputation might suggest.

Not only are convertibles a bit heavier, they’re slightly less rigid. Yet, the driving experience differs little between body styles unless the fabric top is lowered.

Volkswagen’s smooth 1.8-liter engine yields solid acceleration, working well with the automatic transmission. With 40 more horsepower emanating from its 2.0-liter four, the R-Line is livelier, better able to pass confidently. The dual-clutch transmission shifts promptly, without annoying clunks.

Noise is hardly absent. Wind, engine, and road sounds blend into a dreary roar, particularly in R-Line models.

Although the Beetle Dune sits slightly higher than its mates, it’s still quite low. Don’t expect off-road potential.

Reasonably fuel-efficient but not quite thrifty, most Beetles are EPA-rated at 24/33 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined. Convertibles and coupes get the same estimates. Dune models are rated at 24/31/27 mpg, while the R-Line is EPA-rated at 23/29 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined.

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