2016 Volkswagen Beetle

Consumer Reviews
1 Review
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Senior Editor
April 30, 2016

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features & specs

2-Door Automatic 1.8T Denim
2-Door Automatic 1.8T Denim PZEV
2-Door Automatic 1.8T S
25 city / 34 hwy
25 city / 34 hwy
25 city / 34 hwy

The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle is a versatile retro compact, with a choice of powertrains and coupe or convertible body styles.

The 2016 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.

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 the look is modern, but not in a trendy way. This shape, with its simple but shapely details, should hold up over the years.

Inside, the design is clean and flowing, with rounded rectangles and circles the major themes. Controls are simple, both on the wheel and in the center stack.

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Sold as both a coupe and a convertible, the Beetle offers two engine options. The base engine is a 1.8-liter turbo four that makes 170 horsepower.

For those who like a little more punch, the 2016 Beetle R-Line offers 210 hp from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. The R-Line replaced the Beetle Turbo for the 2014 model year. Most Beetles are available with a choice of a manual transmission (5- or 6-speed) or 6-speed automatic that comes as either a traditional automatic or a dual-clutch gearbox.

Comfortable and spacious up front—though not all that quiet—the 2016 VW Beetle's cabin is well-laid out and handsome. Front seat occupants have plenty of leg, head, and hip room in both the coupe and convertible. The rear seat will be tight for most passengers. In coupes, trunk space is pretty good. In convertibles, rear seat space is lost to the collapsible wind deflector, if you choose to use it.

Volkswagen re-imagines its model lineup for 2016. Beetle 1.8T models now come in S, SE, and SEL trim levels, while R-Line models have SE and SEL trim. VW is also offering a new MIB II infotainment system with 5.0 or 6.3-inch touchscreens and, finally, a USB port.

Base equipment includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, automatic headlights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, cloth upholstery, a trip computer, and Bluetooth. R-Lines get 18- or 19-inch wheels, sport suspension, unique front and rear bumpers, front foglights, gloss black exterior trim, red-painted brake calipers, aluminum pedals, and sport seats.

Available tech and equipment upgrades include: navigation, sunroof (coupe), 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.

For 2016, Volkswagen added the Beetle Dune to the lineup. The Dune is slightly taller and wider, and sports chunkier styling and 18-inch wheels in a throwback attempt to "Baja Bugs." The Dune is available in coupe and convertible form.

The Beetle hardtop gets a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, but the convertible has not been tested. The coupe also gets decent scores from the IIHS, but a "Marginal" rating in the small front overlap crash test prevents it from qualifying as a Top Safety Pick. Again, the convertible has not been tested. Standard safety equipment includes all the usual items, but the Beetle doesn't offer many of today's active safety features. It does, however, add an automatic emergency braking system this year that applies the brakes when a collision is detected to reduce the possibility of a second impact and more damage.

The 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder scores 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined in the coupe with the 5-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic. The 210-hp Beetle R-Line coupe has EPA ratings of 24/31/27 mpg with its dual-clutch transmission, and 24/31/26 with its 6-speed manual.


2016 Volkswagen Beetle


The Beetle is one of a kind, wearing a modern take on classic cues.

Much has been made of the more masculine look of the newest car to wear the Beetle name, but in truth, it's just a bit more gender-neutral than the very cute, but also very female-friendly New Beetle. The shape is a clear throwback to the "people's car" of old, with a rounded profile that has a more chopped greenhouse than the previous-generation New Beetle. It's that chopped look that adds a bit of masculinity.

Whether or not you want to drive one, we can all pretty easily agree that the Beetle's lines are clearly attractive. Simple, straightforward, with a classic quality that hints at future timelessness, the Beetle's flattened arches and subtle flares could only fit one car.

We're particularly fond of the Circle wheels, which put the look of an old chrome hubcap on a modern alloy wheel. They're available in black and white, both with the chrome center dish.

The interior of the Beetle is simple and useful, a nod to its classic predecessor, while incorporating most of the modern digital tech you'd want.

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2016 Volkswagen Beetle


The Beetle's engines balance pep with efficiency, and the dynamics are fun yet comfortable.

The 2016 Volkswagen Beetle comes with two gasoline engine options, both turbocharged fours. The Beetle isn't about all-out performance, rather both options are meant to find a nice balance between fun and efficiency.

The base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4 rated at 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It can be had with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. This engine is much better than the 2.5-liter inline-5 it replaced last year, offering more torque and better fuel economy. It has plenty of power for most needs.

Step up to the Beetle R-Line and you'll get a 210-hp, 207-lb-ft turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4. The extra power gives the R-Line noticeable pep and passing ability, but it still isn't quite what you'd call quick, despite the relatively light 3,042-pound curb weight of the manual-equipped car. The option automatic is a 6-speed dual-clutch.

In any form, the Beetle is comfortable and soft-seeming under normal conditions, but manages to corner well, with no undue body roll in more spirited outings. None of the controls—steering and brakes especially—offer much in the way of communication to the driver, however.

Convertible models are a bit less rigid and a touch heavier, but the experience isn't significantly changed, unless you put the top down. Then the Beetle's easy-going attitude makes even more sense.

Whichever Beetle you're after, they share a common sense of fun and simplicity behind the wheel that's refreshing, even when packing a turbocharger and a dual-clutch transmission.

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2016 Volkswagen Beetle

Comfort & Quality

Front seat passengers will be comfortable, but the back seat and trunk come up short.

The 2016 Beetle hardtop coupe and convertible offer two very different driving experiences, but are similar in other respects.

A power-folding soft top keeps the Beetle convertible relatively quiet when up, retracting smoothly to the open position in 9.5 seconds and closing in 11 seconds. The top will operate at speeds up to 31 mph. The convertible also gets a detachable wind guard that stows in the trunk and installs over the rear seats, so there is no plus-two action allowed with the guard in place. The guard is effective, reducing wind buffeting and noise, but it tends to wobble and vibrate in the wind.

On the road, the Beetle is on the noisy side of comfortable. Wind, tire, and engine noise (especially in R-Line models) all contribute to a dull roar.

Up front, both body styles are roomy and comfortable. Head, leg, and hip room are all good. Flat-bottomed, not-too-soft seats are easy to sit in for long drives, even in the slightly more bolstered R-Line. Controls for the seats, as well as the climate control and infotainment, are within easy reach for both the driver and front passenger.

The back row isn't very spacious. The seats are both narrower and far shorter than the front seats. Leg room is largely non-existent with the front seats in normal positions, making the Beetle a part-time four-seater at best. The rear seats make for a handy place to put things, however.

Elsewhere in the cabin, there are many small nooks available to stow smaller items, including the glove box, a dish on the dash, a bin ahead of the shifter, an armrest bin, and a so-called "kaeferfach" box. Despite the multitude of boxes and bins, each is relatively compact, limiting the length or thickness of items that can be stowed. 

The coupe's trunk is 15.4 cubic feet, a healthy figure for a compact car. With the Beetle convertible you'll give up a bit of that space to stow the detachable wind guard, which attaches to the upper side of the trunk. The rear seats in hardtop Beetles fold and lay flat, expanding the cargo capacity to nearly 30 cubic feet. Convertibles get a pass-through between the rear seats. 

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2016 Volkswagen Beetle


Crash test ratings are decent, but the Beetle lacks many of the newer active safety features.

Standard safety equipment on the Beetle includes the usual front, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes and stability control; and active headrests. A rearview camera is standard on SE and SEL trims. The SEL trims also add a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alerts.

New for 2016 is an automatic emergency braking system that applies the brakes when a collision is detected to reduce the possibility of a second impact and more damage.

Good visibility through the windows and large rearview mirrors make for easy sight lines in traffic.

The nationally recognized testing agencies give decent marks to the Beetle coupe, but the NHTSA has not tested the convertible. The coupe scores five out of five stars overall with a four-star ratings in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

The IIHS gives the Beetle coupe mostly top-tier scores, with top "Good" scores in all but the small overlap frontal crash test, where it scored just "Marginal."


2016 Volkswagen Beetle


A revised model strategy simplifies the lineup and adds equipment.

Volkswagen has significantly changed its model lineup for 2016 after pulling diesel models from sale in the States. Beetle 1.8T models now come in S, SE, and SEL trim levels, while 2.0-liter R-Line models have just the SE and SEL trims.

The 1.8T S model comes with 16-inch alloy wheels; a rear spoiler; automatic headlights; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; cloth upholstery; trip computer; front lumbar adjustments; a split folding rear seat; a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake; Bluetooth; and VW's new MIB II infotainment system with a 5.0-inch touchscreen and a USB port. 

All Beetle SE trims start with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, heated front washer nozzles, V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, three-color ambient lighting, a rearview camera, voice control, a 6.3-inch touchscreen display, VW Car-Net connected vehicle services, and satellite radio with a three-month trial subscription. The R-Line SE gets 18-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension, unique front and rear bumpers, front fog lights, gloss black exterior trim, red-painted brake calipers, aluminum pedals, and sport seats.

SEL trims come with 18-inch wheels, navigation, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a panoramic sunroof (coupe), and keyless ignition. The R-Line SEL adds 19-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, Vienna leather seating surfaces, and the Fender audio system.

For 2016, Volkswagen added the Beetle Dune to the lineup. The Dune is slightly taller and wider, and sports chunkier styling and 18-inch wheels in a throwback attempt to "Baja Bugs." The Dune is available in coupe and convertible form.

A lighting package is new for 2016. It includes bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, and an LED rear license plate light. The Fender audio system is also optional on lower line models.

The Beetle convertible follows a similar model lineup, with features closely matching those of the hardtop. The standard spec of the base convertible is a bit better, however, with power-adjustable heated side mirrors, cruise control, and ambient lighting also included.

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2016 Volkswagen Beetle

Fuel Economy

The Beetle is still relatively thrifty, even with the TDI gone.

With three engines and a choice of transmissions, the Beetle offers several different approaches to fuel economy. The coupe and convertible get similar ratings, though the convertibles are generally a little bit lower due to increased weight and less-optimal aerodynamics.

The 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4 scores 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined in the coupe with the 5-speed manual transmission or 6-speed automatic. The convertible is rated at the 25/34/28 mpg with the 6-speed auto; no manual 1.8T convertible is offered.

The 210-horsepower Beetle R-Line coupe has EPA ratings of 24/31/27 mpg with its dual-clutch transmission, and 24/31/26 with its six-speed manual. The convertible is similar, at 23/31/26 mpg with either transmission. That's respectable given the pep in the R-Line's step.

Since Volkswagen admitted last year that its diesels polluted more than the automaker initially claimed, the turbodiesel version of the Beetle hasn't been available for sale. Before it was pulled from dealers' lots the TDI hardtop managed 31/41/34 mpg and the convertible version managed 30/40/34 mpg, according to the automaker. Those aren't quite hybrid-like figures, but they're still considerably greener than average.

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February 24, 2016
2016 Volkswagen Beetle 2-Door Automatic 1.8T Classic

So Far So Good only had it a week

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I like the car very much there are some quality issues that need to be addressed I am hoping that Volkswagen steps up to the plate on that...
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