The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle mixes the original Bug's design elements with a thoroughly up-to-date front-drive chassis. It has shed some cuteness in the current generation, but still carries the happy look of its ancestors. It may be more of a fashion accessory than a practical choice nowadays, but it's less compromised than it once was.
Sold as both a coupe and a convertible, the Beetle offers three engine options once again. For 2015, the TDI diesel is replaced by a newer version, while the turbocharged gas engines, in 1.8- and 2.0-liter sizes, continue on unchanged from last year.
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.
Last year, Volkswagen replaced the aging 2.5-liter engine with a 1.8-liter turbo four that makes the same power (170 horsepower) but more torque. The turbo four-cylinder also boosted gas mileage by 16 percent. For the best mileage, there's the Beetle TDI Clean Diesel (yes, that's its full name), which gets a new 150-hp engine that makes 10 hp more than the outgoing engine and improves city fuel economy by 3 mpg.
For those who like a little more punch, the 2015 Beetle R-Line offers 210 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The R-Line replaced 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.
The 2015 model year also brings with it a new trim line available on both the convertible and coupe. It's called Classic, and builds on the base 1.8T model, adding unique cloth upholstery, front seats with lumbar, a six-speed automatic, and navigation.
Comfortable and spacious (up front), though not all that quiet, the 2015 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. Available tech and equipment upgrades include: navigation, sunroof (coupe models), and VW's new Car-Net connectivity system. There are also several retro-style wheels offered, which really help to connect the modern Beetle with the Bugs of yore.
- 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
- Styling a bit conservative
- Diesel convertible is an odd mix
- No quirky bud vase