March 2012

Vehicle Comparison: The 2012 VW Beetle takes on the Competition

The 2012 Volkswagen Beetle has its own unique style that trumps nearly any competitor. There’s no way for anyone else to legitimately lay claim to such an iconic shape. The 2012 Beetle has been restyled to echo the seminal original Volkswagen Beetle more closely with a flattened roofline and attention to detail that strongly reminds onlookers of the Volkswagen that built the brand in the first place.
 
Playing in the same sandbox as the iconic Beetle (MSRP starting at $19,795) are the MINI Cooper, Scion tC and Fiat 500. The Beetle, though, doesn’t shrink from the challenge, and it stacks up to be the top vehicle in its class while also being one of the most distinctive-looking cars on the road. How does it do that?
 
It starts with the standard engine, a well-proven 2.5-liter five-cylinder that churns out the most horsepower in this class – 170 hp – and 177 lb/ft of torque. That’s nearly double the power you’ll find in the Fiat 500, which offers only 101 hp and 98 lb/ft of torque. Even the MINI Cooper supplies just 121 hp and 114 lb/ft of torque. 
 
For even more fun, choose one of the three Beetle Turbo models (MSRP starting at $23,395). They come with a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter TSI® inline four-cylinder with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder, good for 200 hp, 207 lb/ft of torque and an EPA-estimated 30 mpg highway. The John Cooper Works versions of the MINI offer comparable horsepower, but they start at more than $30,000 and go up from there. The top-of-the-line Beetle Turbo with Sunroof, Sound and Navigation has an MSRP of just $27,995.
 
The power is complemented by the most cargo space in the class, too. There’s 15.4 cubic feet of storage space behind the rear seat of the 2012 Beetle, compared to a paltry 5.7 cubic feet in the MINI, which offers even less room than the 9.5 cubic feet in the Fiat 500. The Scion tC comes close with 14.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity, but still doesn’t make it. With its rear seat folded, the Beetle has 29.9 cubic feet at your disposal. This Beetle spaciousness is thanks to an overall length longer than both the MINI and the Fiat, plus more overall width than anything else in the class. The front track is also wider than the competition, which leads to more secure handling. The Beetle provides more front headroom than its competition and more rear headroom than the tC and the 500.
 
The Beetle also provides big peace of mind, thanks to the Volkswagen Carefree Maintenance program. For three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, you’ll get no-charge scheduled maintenance like oil changes and courtesy checks. That’s a full year or between 6,000 and 11,000 miles more than most of the competition.
 
If the comfort of being taken care of by Volkswagen isn’t enough, there’s always the overall “Good” rating, the highest possible, earned by the Beetle in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in frontal crash testing.
 
Beetle owners can take comfort in the way Volkswagen backs the Beetle, too. While others, like the MINI Cooper and the Fiat 500, are covered for 50,000 miles or 48 months, the Beetle carries 60 months or 60,000 miles of powertrain warranty. You’ll find the Beetle has higher residual values than the Scion tC and Fiat 500, too.
 
Style may be the reason you’re first attracted to the Beetle, but as you can see, its beauty runs much more than skin deep.


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