Used Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback 1999 - 2012 review

Category: Family car

Lots of style and good residual values

Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (99 - 12)
  • Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (99 - 12)
  • Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback (99 - 12)
Used Volkswagen Beetle Hatchback 1999 - 2012 review
Star rating

What's the used Volkswagen Beetle hatchback like?

The original VW Beetle may have been designed in the 1930s for the Third Reich, but this latest version is really a VW Golf in a bug's clothing. Ironic really - the Golf was originally designed to replace the Beetle.

What you get in this modern classic is a well-built, solid car with a nicely controlled ride and responsive steering, allowing you to tackle corners with confidence. The problem is that those classic lines cause a classic problem: visibility isn't particularly good, and it's hard to see the car's corners when parking. At least wind and road noise are kept to a minimum.


Lots of style and good residual values

  • Cool, reliable and fun to drive
  • Not really big enough for more than two
  • small boot

In theory, the Beetle can seat four, but the reality is that's it's only for two. The slope of the roofline makes sitting in the back difficult if you're an adult, although it should be fine for children. The boot is small, too, but if you don't need the rear seats they can be folded down to increase your luggage space.

Ownership cost

What used Volkswagen Beetle hatchback will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Volkswagen Beetle hatchback?

With all those Golf components lurking under its shell, the Beetle is as reliable as the hatchback. Niggles are generally minor. And, although the Beetle is slightly more expensive to service than the Golf, you can save a little bit of cash by going to an independent specialist.

Where the Beetle suffers over the Golf is that it's quite a heavy car, so its fuel economy suffers. MPG figures for the petrols range from the mid- to high-30s, but the diesel gives a great 53mpg. Insurance is acceptable if you stick to the 1.6, which is in group 9, but climbs as high as group 15 for the more rapid models.

Our recommendations

Which used Volkswagen Beetle hatchback should I buy?

Originally, the Beetle came with two petrol engines - a 2.0-litre unit with 115bhp and a 1.6 with 102bhp - and a diesel with 90bhp. A 1.8 turbo with 150bhp, a 2.3 V5 with 170bhp and a 1.4 developing just 75bhp joined later. There's also a rapid 3.2-litre V6 RS.

In the real world, the 1.6 is the best all-round choice - running costs won't cripple you, but although it drives well enough, it's not very quick, and better for posing in than thrill-seeking. With that in mind, if you want an automatic gearbox, you have to opt for the 2.0-litre engine.

When you're shopping around, you may come across some left-hand-drive examples, which made it into the UK before 1999, but there's no reason to buy one unless it's dirt-cheap.

Right-hand drive models were officially launched in 2000, and they came with a good level of safety equipment, although the entry model didn't have alloy wheels or air-con. However, if your budget will stretch to it, look for a car from after 2006, when the model was face-lifted and fitted with more goodies.


What alternatives should I consider to a used Volkswagen Beetle hatchback?