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Mini One and VW Beetle in the test: speedster with a heartbeat guarantee

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Mini One and VW Beetle in the test
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S let's introduce ourselves, BMW would have given the Mini 2001 more trunk space, suspension comfort and a simple center console ... scary! Of course, it's the unreasonable character that makes the dwarf so distinctive and, by the way, the coolest small car. Those who drive it love white racing stripes, brightly glued mirror caps and a first-class go-kart feeling - and don't give a damn about place comparisons or price-performance debates. In short: the Mini is right at the top of the palpitation scale. Until now.

At VW, such supremacy is tempting; today it seems like the brand's ultimate, unattained goal - or do you know a Volkswagen that has the emotional aura of the Beetle? The New Beetle didn't manage that despite its long life, the new one should now fix it. Not only does it avoid the prefix New, but also the flower vase, the huge space between the steering wheel and the windscreen and the decelerating feeling of the setting Californian sun.

The shape of the VW Beetle is reminiscent of the early 911

VW Beetle number two relies on dynamism. Just how its roof crouches behind the windshield and flows flat backwards - almost as tasty as early nine-eleven. This clarity continues inside: the dashboard is wonderfully reduced to the bare essentials and is adorned with painted plastic paneling (optionally in carbon look). In front of the passenger, a second glove compartment (the 'Beetle compartment') folds out from equipment design - the only touch of retro for the VW team.

The guys also think practically: In the large doors of the VW Beetle, rubber straps replace ordinary bags and also hold larger water bottles. When exploring the clearly arranged workstation, you will notice easily readable round instruments, cleverly placed switches, but also the lack of automatic lighting. The price list confirms: VW saves on the wrong detail.

Mini One not well processed in the interior

The Mini One knows such criticism only too well, the chassis development obviously cost its fathers so much dedication that it was never considered a decent workmanship in the Cockpit was enough. We are not referring to the chrome-plated clip-and-flip switches or the huge, difficult-to-read round speedometer - they belong to the mini look like the pot hairstyle to Angela Merkel. The materials used underneath the dashboard are annoying. You neednot long to look for different gap sizes and scratch-sensitive plastics.

And in the VW Beetle? VW knows better how to clad all the surfaces in the field of vision appropriately and robustly. Only the sports seats do not offer as much lateral support as those of the Mini; they should also be more tightly padded. The back seat of the VW has two embossed, sufficiently comfortable seats, reaching them is not a particularly difficult exercise. Anyone who folds the front seats using the Easy Entry function and pushes them all the way forward will find the rear of the VW Beetle without painful contortions. Because of the flat roof, only contemporaries up to 1.80 meters tall are allowed to sit relaxed. Everyone else should prefer the first row - or crawl into the back of the Mini.

With seven centimeters less wheelbase, despite the equally good easy-entry function of the sports seats, which cost 310 euros, you have to meander into the rear. To compensate, there is significantly more headroom than in the Beetle, but you involuntarily crouch in a kind of jackknife position, which quickly causes back pain.

Both models can be moved in a sporty manner

Nobody seems to get lost in the mini world, you sit in the front and find yourself in a uniquely playful cockpit - including confusing radio controls and wobbly center console with a Playmobil look. True mini maniacs don't mind that at least as little as the glove compartment under the tailgate or the moderate payload of 381 kilograms. The VW Beetle diligently collects more points in all of these disciplines (trunk: almost twice as large), but cannot set itself apart far enough from the mass-produced look of its brothers when it comes to styling. In return, the VW Beetle now invites you to swing in curves on country roads very convincingly. You don't need to order the sports suspension for direct steering - with the standard springs and dampers, the Beetle is so full and talented that the relationship to its technology donor, the Golf, becomes clear.

That doesn't scare the Mini One, it reacts even more directly, even more bitingly, even faster. As if raised, it scurries around bends of every diameter and also shows the 124 kilogram heavier VW how quickly the game with the red and white cones can be ended. In this sportiness he remains unmatched. The only side effect: its partly bumpy suspension comfort. Even if it has improved in recent years, compared to the Beetle (longer wheelbase), the Mini can be used on nasty transverse joints on a small trampoline.

In the test, the VW Beetle is in the back Mini One and VW Beetle. With 98 and 105 hp, they pull the two two-door cars forward sufficiently quickly and suppress vibrations.The four-cylinder vacuum cleaner of the Mini One only allows sportiness above 4,000 revs, the 1.2 TSI of the VW Beetle tackles a little earlier thanks to its turbocharger - victory in the traffic light sprint spoils the extra weight. In the test consumption, the VW is also behind: 8.4 to 7.8 L /100 km. A standard automatic start-stop system helps the Mini, but this technology is not available for the Beetle. In the equipment comparison, the VW with the design package has the edge.

He wins this first test and can also convince in character. The shy cruiser of yesterday has become an unusual, sporty coupé. With the Mini, it is above all the imperfect things (comfort, practical talent) that cost him victory. It is still high on the palpitations scale.

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