A while ago, I had to take my Volkswagen Golf back to the local dealership for its annual service and for reasons too dull to explain here, I wasn't going to be able to collect it again for three days. When I told the man in the service department this, he very kindly said "No problem. We'll have a car here for you to borrow until you can pick yours up."
Now, as we all know from the teachings of 'Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels', assumption is the mother of all f**k up's. But I will admit that I did assume that my courtesy car would be a little Polo, or maybe another Golf if I was lucky. Secretly I was hoping for an Arteon, but at no point did I expect to be shown to the door of a brand new, baby blue Volkswagen Beetle TSI.
I know this is one of the most divisive subjects in motoring, but I've never really liked the Beetle. The long-lived original was a slow, noisy, badly-handling hangover from the days when the phrase "living space in the East" meant rather more than buying a big house-boat on the Norfolk Broads. The second generation, a soggy, misguided attempt at cuteness based on the 90's Golf was scarcely any better. So you can imagine then, that it was without much excitement that I climbed into the blue bug and set off on my travels.
It wasn't until about three hours later, when I was driving into London with my hood up and dark glasses on lest anyone should see me piloting a Beetle, that I started to think "Actually, this car is very comfortable, and quiet too." Later on, I parked it in Portman Square and I had to begrudgingly admit that it really did look quite funky amongst all the black Mercs and grey Priuses. The sharply-raked new roofline had given the thing a much-needed shot of attitude. It looked as if it had been hot-rodded by an old school American chop-shop, and I liked that very much.
The next day, I had to take it to rural Cambridgeshire and on the back roads of the Fens the Beetle was a surprisingly game companion. The turbocharged engine was punchy, the steering was sharp and the whole thing just felt a world away from the appalling cack that preceded it. It was only later that I discovered that this third-generation of Beetle was built on a mixture of Golf GTI and Scirocco underpinnings, so it should have been good. VW however, seem to disagree and decided to cancel the Beetle earlier this year.
By the time I had to take it back to the dealer to pick up my own car, my life-long indifference had been replaced with a new-found affection for VW's latest take on the 'Love Bug'. Obviously I won't admit it to anyone who asks me, but secretly, I drove a Beetle and I liked it.
Please don't tell anyone.