2013 Volkswagen Beetle 1.6 TDI review

  • Most economical Beetle driven in UK
  • 65.7mpg and 113g/km of CO2
  • On sale now, priced from £17,130
Read the Volkswagen Beetle review
Read the Volkswagen Beetle review
The Volkswagen Beetle 1.6 TDI is pitched squarely at buyers who want excellent fuel economy in a funky package.

It uses the same 1.6 TDI engine as the latest VW Golf, but unlike that car it doesn’t quite manage to squeeze under the 100g/km CO2 threshold – instead it emits 113g/km.

However, it’s still much more efficient than any other Beetle, meaning it’s cheaper to tax and to run as a company car.

What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle 1.6 TDI like to drive?
The 1.6 TDI isn’t as powerful or refined as the 2.0 TDI, but the payoff is better fuel economy (65.7mpg plays 57.6mpg) and a saving of nearly £1000. Peak power is on a par with the 1.2 TSI petrol model's, but the 1.6 TDI doesn’t need to be revved as hard to get you up to speed quickly.

Engine noise is intrusive only at low speeds, fading away on faster roads. However, while the engine can barely be heard at all on the motorway, that’s partly because the frameless doors generate so much wind noise.

As with the other Beetles, it’s the 1.6 TDI’s ride and handling that disappoint most. The ride is firm at low speeds, and although body sway is kept in check through corners, the steering is quite heavy and slow to react.

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What’s the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle 1.6 TDI like inside?
The interior is more grown up than the previous-generation Beetle’s, although some of the retro feel lost can be restored by upgrading to Design trim. This features a body-coloured dashboard and doors panels as standard, so makes the interior feel far more special.

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Back-seat passengers will have no problem with access thanks to tilt and slide front seats and large doors. The Beetle’s unusual shape means there isn’t as much rear space as in a Golf or Ford Focus, but adult passengers will be comfortable enough on shorter journeys.

The dashboard controls are well laid out and easy to use, and the optional sat-nav system fitted to our test car is intuitive and effective, if pricey at £1490.

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Prices start at £17,130 for the entry-level model, which gets you air-conditioning, a DAB radio and stability control.

Design trim – a £2070 upgrade – adds items such as alloys, Bluetooth, USB and iPod connection, a touch-screen display and a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel.

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Should I buy one?
We'd recommend this smaller diesel engine over the 2.0 TDI, predominantly because it's cheaper, but also because the Beetle’s ride and handling don't merit the extra power on offer.

However, we still prefer the entry-level 1.2 petrol model; the engine is quiet and still reasonably flexible, and it costs from just £15,300.

The only reason to go for the 1.6 TDI is if you do the mileage to justify the extra purchase cost, or if you’re a company car driver.

Look outside the Beetle range, though, and there are more practical, more economical and more exciting cars for the money.

What Car? says...

Mini Cooper D
Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI SE

Read the full Volkswagen Beetle review >>

Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £17,130
Power 104bhp
Torque 185lb ft
0-62mph 11.2 seconds
Top speed 112mph
Fuel economy 65.7mpg
CO2 113g/km

By Ed Callow

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