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All-new in 2012, and with a new convertible variant available for 2013, the Volkswagen Beetle isn't what you're thinking--it's better.
The New Beetle which preceded the current Beetle was loved by press and public alike at its introduction, and for many, the love affair continues, but in truth, neither the design nor the packaging forced on it by the architectural shape has held up over time. That's all done with now--the 2013 Beetle is both its own car and at the same time, tied solidly to its past.
With a more masculine design aimed at bringing more men to the fold--without losing the women that loved the last Beetle so much--the new car draws more heavily on the prototypical Bug, but filters it through a thoroughly modern lens.
Three core variants are available: a five-cylinder base model, a turbocharged four-cylinder for those with a taste for performance, and an efficient, fun turbodiesel. All three are available in both coupe and convertible form.
The Beetle Turbo is the performer of the group, slicing to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds with its 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine. It even sounds the part, with a throaty exhaust note and just a hint of turbo whine. Opt for the dual-clutch transmission over the six-speed manual and you'll get effortless shifts, though you might notice a slight bog pulling away from a stop. Body roll is insignificant, especially considering the comfortable ride, and handling is composed, if not quite full-on sporty.
The most practical choice, in some ways at least, is the diesel-fueled Beetle TDI. With its 41-mpg highway rating, there's no question it's efficient.You can choose from a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG automatic with the TDI.
For those looking for the least expensive entry to the Beetle range, there's the 170-horsepower, five-cylinder 2.5-liter base model. While it's not nearly as quick as the Beetle Turbo, it's still peppy, and like the other Beetles, it rides and handles well.
Passenger space is quite good up front, with plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room, whether you're talking coupe or convertible. Trunk space is pretty good in all versions, though convertibles lose a little bit of space to the collapsible wind deflector, which stows in a special rack at the top of the trunk compartment.
In the features department, the Beetle covers the basics, with USB, Bluetooth, and upgradable audio available on all models. A range of special-editions, grouped by their homage to the decades of the '50s, '60s, and '70s, offer unique appearance packages, and a Fender special edition adds some interior flair and a great sound system. A sunroof (in coupe models), navigation, and stereo upgrades are rolled into the various trim lines.
At more than 70 years old and just into its third generation, the Beetle has as much baggage as it does history--but this new model does its best to carry forward the good while dispensing with the bad, and, for the most part, pulls it off.
- Classic lines, modern looks
- A vintage tinge to its interior
- Good thrust from the Turbo
- Quick dual-clutch shifts
- That old familiar feeling--now with working heat!
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Back seat still not full-sized
- Five-cylinder base engine lacks sparkle
- Gas mileage less than impressive on non-diesels
- Herbalist fan base may actually miss bud vase