First drive: 2015 Volkswagen Beetle in the UAE

First drive: 2015 Volkswagen Beetle in the UAE

2015 Volkswagen Beetle in the UAE 4

The Volkswagen Beetle is back in our part of the world. The last “new” Beetle was there for a decade, unchanged, which showed the staying power of that design. And well, the “real” Beetle before that — that stayed almost unchanged for the better part of last century. VW hasn’t gone crazy with this redesign, but has done enough to just about make out that this is a new model with a more sporty twist.

2015 Volkswagen Beetle in the UAE 1

You need a keen eye to spot the newbie. The roof is less of a dome now, while an optional spoiler and semi-circle tail lamps are the biggest clues. That spoiler works, because of what lurks under the hood.

Inside, it’s a nice-looking interior, with good features in this top-spec trim, such as power windows and a multimedia touchscreen. Everything aside from the armrests is hard plastic though, which is partly how the Beetle rings in cheaper than a Golf GTI at the showroom.

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It is reasonably practical, with enough rear space for average-sized adults, even if access is a chore. There’s even a second storage compartment above the glove-box, and quirky rubber-bands for door pockets. The boot is also decently-sized, although watch out for the logo that doubles as a pull-out tailgate handle — it snaps back into place fast enough to take your fingers off.

With specs similar to the older-gen Golf GTI’s engine, the Beetle’s turbocharged 2.0-litre makes 210 hp and 280 Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic. That’s considerably less torque than the new GTI, but you wouldn’t feel it in acceleration runs. We clocked it at 7.5 seconds in summer weather, and the surge of initial torque is enough to spin the front wheels. Combined with the grunty engine note, you’d think you’re going faster than you are, but the engine clearly runs out of steam beyond 100 kph, something that the new GTI doesn’t suffer from any more.

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We burned petrol at a rate of 13.5 l/100 km, and that’s with a sluggish throttle response and gear-changes in “normal” mode which are clearly designed to improve fuel economy.

Its responses perk up in “sport” mode though. The well-weighted steering is sharp, but offers almost no feedback. The firm brake pedal control somewhat-grabby brakes with red calipers. And the handling is very good, given it sits on basically a last-gen Golf chassis, with limited body roll and solid grip.

The ride is firm, but fairly bearable. And the big windows offer good all-round visibility. There’s moderate road and wind noise at highway speeds, but it can be an acceptable daily commuter if you don’t mind the occasional jitter on uneven roads.

The New Beetle might have a certain image that VW wants to shed, and this new model does a reasonably credible job of that. Think GTI in a different skin, and you’re on the right track.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Volkswagen buyer guide.

What do you think?



  1. What a MACHO ride 😛

  2. At 99,000 aed starting i think its not justifiable!!!!

  3. Another GTI in disguise. The Scirocco starts at 120k and the former at 116k, that actually makes it a bargain

  4. Hmmm. This us a car Id be happy to buy. I really like it. Pricing… ok. In Europe they sell the 1.2 TSI DSG model at around 85.000 dhs. The 2l GTI engine model is around 130.000 dhs. 20% of these prices is VAT, though.
    In UAE, they offer the 2.0 engine which again is the GTI engine. So, 99.000 dhs is a good price taking that into consideration.
    They could, however, offer the 1.2 engine for those who want a cheaper Beetle…..not everybody wants a fast acceleration.

  5. Meant to say their basic cars come with good options. Typing error, blame the iphone!

  6. Looks like an upscale bathtub…

  7. I actually like this bug..

  8. I once had the opportunity to spend 45mins in the rear seat of the older generation model for a ride back from college. I had a sore head cause I kept bumping it on the rear glass. If this suffers from the same… Being cheaper than a Golf wouldn’t matter cause it’s impractical. Though it does look less feminine than the previous one.

  9. Did you guys review the New beetle yet ? i was hope to know Drive Arabia’s view about the the new VW beetle experience before putting my money into one. ? or anyone else who has bought it can they tell me howz the car overall ?

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      The Beetle review went up late due to issues beyond our control. However, it’s a nice car in most ways, so you will probably like it.

    • I bought new beetle top spec for 120000 aed

      Nice acceleration braking ride

      But it doesn’t have rear camera and little bit of noise after 120 km/ hr

  10. Not a very fast one, however good equipment and engine, with VW quality. The buttons are smooth, the screen is qualitative, the GPS is pretty. Not to complain about the life quality.

    Only 2 bad points: harsh ride and a little under-steer. But, who buys a car like that to drive it rally mode? It’s a sexy lady’s car for sure.

  11. i don’t like the shape :S

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