Increasing the availability of unique appearance packages to better keep pace with the image-conscious competition, the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle ranges from about $20,000 to just over $30,000 depending on your required feature set.
The basic $19,795 Beetle comes with a standard CD player with an auxiliary jack; a leather steering wheel; 17-inch wheels and tires; and a split-folding rear seat. On this version, VW offers packages that include Bluetooth; Fender premium sound; iPod connectivity; ambient lighting; 18-inch wheels; a panoramic sunroof; leatherette upholstery stitched to look like the real thing; heated front seats; and a "kaeferfach" glove box that looks like the one on vintage Beetles.
On the $23,365 Beetle Turbo, VW adds on the Bluetooth and iPod controls as standard equipment, as well as the ambient lighting and kaeferfach glove box. Also bundled in: red brake calipers; sport seats; 18-inch wheels; a rear spoiler and fog lights; a set of three ancillary gauges on the dash; a flat-bottomed steering wheel; and alloy pedals.
The $24,995 Beetle Convertible is also offered in base 2.5L and Turbo ($27,795) models, as well as TDI ($27,895). Convertibles are available with a range of packages that parallels the Coupe's, plus the addition of a series of "decades" appearance options that emulate the style of the '50s, '60s, and '70s. A Fender edition is also available in the Beetle Convertible, which adds unique Fender appearance touches as well as a Fender sound system.
Packages including navigation can raise these starting prices more than $3,000, and, in coupes, you can't get navigation without the sunroof.
We recommend the Fender sound system, which uses Panasonic speakers, a massive subwoofer (slightly smaller in the convertible due to space requirements) and 400 watts of output for brilliantly rendered sound, from stripped-down acoustic pieces to Sixties walls of sound.
Unlike many Bluetooth-streaming sound systems, VW's actually lets you use the steering-wheel controls to change tracks, a major bypass around musical frustration. The panoramic sunroof is your best bet for fun in the sun short of the new-for-2013 Beetle Convertible, as it's twice the size of the New Beetle's panel.
Volkswagen also offers a premium audio system with an SD card slot, touchscreen controls and navigation. A colorful, well-rendered interface makes the five-inch LCD screen easy to use. Optional keyless entry and pushbutton start add to the near-luxury feel, but there's no option for leather in any Beetle.
VW is adapting some of the custom trim pieces to the Beetle portfolio. There are lively Turbo decals for that model; there's also a choice of nameplates for the car, whether you know it as a Kaefer or as a Bug or as a good, old Beetle. Some body-color trim makes its way into the cabin, too, in a particularly winning touch.
Volkswagen also includes its free basic maintenance for three years or 36,000 miles, including synthetic oil changes.