If there’s an automobile shape that cuts through generations and socio-economic classes, it’s has to be the humble Beetle’s. I don’t know any Gen-Xer who doesn’t have fond memories of it and now it’s simply classier than it ever was.
It’s current price point elevates it from its former status as a people’s car, but it does open itself up to a whole new market of moneyed millennials with a strong desire to drive something that looks out of the ordinary.
You won’t be found wanting for originality if you’re driving a Beetle for sure but if you want a ‘bug’ that’s just a notch above what’s been in the market for the last few years, Volkswagen Philippines has souped it up with exterior and interior enhancements. With more eye candy and upgraded interior amenities, the quintessential ‘bug’ gets a new trim and is dubbed the ‘Beetle Club Edition.’ The shape may have been modernized but it is still unmistakable, from the front to the back, the Beetle Club Edition remains true to form.
It still comes with the characteristic Bi-Xenon headlamps with daytime running lamps (DRLs) and static cornering light, the less curvy hood and blacked-out roof. Put those together with the restyled fenders, bumpers and the rear spoiler, and you get a Beetle with a heftier and a more modern look.
Those features, mind you, are standard to the 2017 VW Beetle and aren’t what makes it a Club Edition trim.
What separates this from your average garden-variety 2017 Beetle is its gorgeous 17-inch hyper black alloy wheels that go perfectly with its all-white body. If the wheels fail to distinguish it, the decals that run along both sides of the automobile’s lower half with the words ‘Club’ on it should be sufficient enough indication.
As appointed as the 2017 Beetle is compared to its air-cooled predecessor, VW customers wanted more modern features to cope with contemporary demands and their voices didn’t fall on deaf ears. Sure, USB & Bluetooth connectivity are holdovers from the regular Beetle, along with cruise control, air-conditioning and the eight-speaker system.
The retro gauges with a built-in multi-function display (MFD) are also borrowed and makes the experience behind the wheel both nostalgic and informative, the multifunction steering wheel is still leather-wrapped and comes with buttons to let you change audio sources, switch information on the MFD and handle hands-free telephone calls. But despite all that, the Beetle needed something more to make driving it as hip as it looks.
This is where the 6.5-inch touchscreen system comes in. Aside from the Bluetooth function for easier pairing of devices, it comes with a more sophisticated Phone Link connection via USB for Android and Apple devices for more access to phone-related apps and functions. There’s also a GPS navigation system, a DVD player and an SD card reader. The one feature that’s missing for now in this new infotainment package is a reverse monitor.
Sport seats of the Beetle Club Edition have been upgraded to leather, which somehow gripped my body a lot better than the fabric of the regular Beetle and just gave it an overall premium feel. Cabin space is still the same, with first row seatbacks that need to be folded forward to allow ingress into the back row. However, anything more than a handbag would make the interior rather cramped for any number of passengers above four. There’s ample amount of space for a few overnight bags in the trunk where the engine used to be in the classic Beetle.
There are no changes under the hood for the Beetle Club Edition. It still uses the same 1.4L 4-cylinder, in-line, twin-charged fuel-injected gasoline engine with an output of 160PS and 240Nm of torque.
Its overall profile may not be as low to the ground as your typical racecar but the seats – including the driver’s H-point or hip-point – is so perfectly positioned that it aligns the body to the proper driving position while also keeping the floor and the cabin’s center of gravity low and close to the ground.
Coupled with an Electronic Stabilization Program, handling and rollover resistance is greatly enhanced around curves and long bends despite its higher ceiling compared to regular sedans. Its turbo may kick in after a teeny-weeny bit of a delay but the resulting punchy acceleration and the completely exhilarating drive that follows more than makes up for it.
Aside from improved handling, the driver position also allows the driver to receive great feedback from the steering wheel, the tires and even the movement of the chassis based on external forces. Because of the width and the shape of the Beetle, it corners better and traction is palpable even at elevated speeds.
As great as this lowered seating position is for driver feedback, it also takes a little away from the ride comfort. There’s some amount of stiffness from the suspension that doesn’t do much to mask road imperfections, which is historically typical of the Beetle.The conservative settings on Drive mode though provides more than enough to make the daily drive fun and exciting.
Just like the regular Beetle, the Club Edition also comes with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission with a manual mode. It lets you handle the shift points in order to push the engine to its limit or at the level you’re most comfortable with. Thanks to well placed gearing offered on Drive and Sport, going full manual may seem like overindulgence. If your weekend jaunts demand something more spirited, slip the shift lever into Sport mode and the Beetle becomes more responsive to driver input as the transmission holds the revs at a much higher range. It may not be its most fuel-efficient mode but it surely is the most fun. Over a three-day period of pure city driving, it returned 7.3 kilometers to a liter.
Its overall shape may harken back to the VW Type 1 Beetle but the second-generation ‘new’ bug already comes with front, side, and curtain airbags that work with a system that automatically shuts windows and tightens seatbelts to amplify the protection the airbags provide. With an exterior that’s sportier than ever before and an infotainment system that now keeps up with the times, it may seem like a price increase is in order but that’s where you’re mistaken.
The VW Beetle Club Edition still comes with the same price tag, Php 1.790 million. Awesome looks and a new graphic user interface makes the beloved Beetle more attractive than ever before. Plus, it’s a terrific drive in the city, and an energetic ride on the highway, thanks to the tried and tested PQ35 platform that’s shared with the Golf, Audi A3 among many others. As a driver, that’s really all you can ask for, a car that looks great but drives much better.
So here’s a big welcome to all you auto enthusiasts and car lovers, the Volkswagen Beetle Club Edition is finally here.