The Volkswagen Beetle has seen great success and is one of the true automotive icons around the globe. Now in only its third generation since debuting in 1938, Beetle has seen the engine move from the rear to the front, but aside from that – and a few modern technologies – the model is as easily recognizable today as when first introduced.
This traditional styling is perhaps Beetle’s greatest virtue. In my opinion, the car is also one of the best coupes on the road today, offering spirited powertrains, good driving characteristics and a spacious cabin. Our recent tester came with the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine mated to a smooth-shifting six-speed manual gearbox. The car is front-wheel driven and for 2014 received some suspension modifications that included a multi-link independent rear suspension system and anti-roll bars fore and aft.
The low-by-comparison 140hp generated by the four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine is offset by the 236 lb. ft. of wheel-spinning torque it generates for confident power and spirited yet miserly driving. Fuel economy is rated at 28 mpg city and 41 mpg highway. Those higher EPA ratings over a gasoline Beetle offset the higher cost of the diesel fuel.
It seems like I’ve tested a new Beetle each model year in recent years and looking back I find that is correct. While I appreciate variety I still find the Volkswagen Beetle a favorite to drive be it convertible or hardtop, diesel- or gas-powered. Styling tweaks for this third-generation car make it more appealing to the male consumer over the predecessor and that familiar bud vase is (sadly) gone from the dashboard.
This TDI tester arrived with most of the amenities and creature comforts offered by the automaker that includes leather seating with heated front seats, SiriusXM satellite radio with touchscreen display, media device interface and Bluetooth connectivity and VW Car-Net connected driver assistance and crash notification services. It is priced at $25,415, including destination and delivery charges.
The new new Beetle is in the compact car class but it is not cookie cutter compact. It is unique as it is iconic and it is familiar as it is global. It is comfortable and cute and fun and frugal. As Volkswagen puts it, “Same soul, different everything else.”