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The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle still seems fresh, though it's now in the third year of a redesign from the ground up that gave it far more universal appeal and took it out of the "cute" ghetto into a more stylish--if hardly mainstream--place. While there's a clear stylistic nod to the past, it's not a corny tribute but a thoroughly modern car that incorporates key elements of the old car's esthetic into a design that marries old with new. The Beetle is now a style statement, no longer the practical, simple car for workers that it started as. But it's still instantly recognizable as a Beetle.
Sold as both a coupe and a convertible, the Beetle is changing up its powertrain lineup in 2014. The Beetle started the 2014 model year with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder in the base model, but Volkswagen has replaced this engine with a new 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
Wanting to lure in more male buyers, the latest Beetle's look has grown more masculine, especially with the lower, flatter roofline and more upright windshield. At the same time, it's modern, but not in a trendy way. This shape, with its simple but shapely details, should hold up over the years.
Inside, the design clean and flowing, with rounded rectangles and circles the major themes. Controls are simple, both on the wheel and in the center stack. For both the inside and the outside, throwback looks from the '50s, '60s, and '70s are available, as is a special-edition Fender model.
The 2.5-liter five-cylinder rated 170 horsepower and up to 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway; VW rates the new 1.8-liter turbo at 170 horsepower as well. The new turbo four-cylinder boosts gas mileage by 16 percent, however, according to VW. For the best mileage, there's the Beetle TDI Clean Diesel (yes, that's its full name), scoring 28 and 41 mpg city/highway.
For those who like a little more punch, the 2014 Beetle R-Line offers 210 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The R-Line replaces the Beetle Turbo for the 2014 model year. Most Beetles are available with a choice of five- or six-speed manual or six-speed automatic or dual-clutch automatic transmissions.
Another addition for 2014 is the Beetle GSR. VW is limiting sales to 3,500 GSRs in total, each wearing a unique interior and exterior color theme and receiving special equipment. The Beetle GSR uses the same powertrain as the Beetle R-Line.
Comfortable and spacious (up front), though not all that quiet, the 2014 VW Beetle's cabin is well-laid out and handsome. Passengers up front have plenty of leg, head, and hip room in both the coupe and convertible. In hardtops, trunk space is pretty good; even in convertibles, not much space is lost to the collapsible wind deflector stowed against the top of the trunk.
USB, Bluetooth, and upgradeable audio systems are available in all Beetle models, while special themed trim lines offers the styles of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both inside and out. Available tech and equipment upgrades include: navigation, sunroof (coupe models), and VW's new Car-Net connectivity system.
- Modern take on classic Beetle lines
- Vintage touches available
- R-Line's turbo thrust
- Snappy dual-clutch shifts
- No quirky bud vase
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- Small back seat
- Weak base five-cylinder
- Gas mileage less than impressive on non-diesels
- No quirky bud vase