Overview & Reviews
Over the years, the design of the Volkswagen Beetle has evolved from its functionality-driven origins to the irrepressibly cheerful face of the previous-generation New Beetle. More recently, the folks at VW dropped the "New" in the car's name and gave this latest-generation Beetle a more aggressive look. But it's still unmistakably a Beetle.
Contributing to the newest Beetle's more masculine stance is a body that's longer, lower and wider than the previous generation. Inside, the friendly flower vase and distant windshield (which resulted in a massive dash top) have been replaced by a more vertical windshield and a color-keyed dash that's more handsome than cute. The increased dimensions also give this Beetle a roomier interior, especially in the backseat. Its underpinnings, which are shared with the previous-generation Golf, make it more fun to drive than you might expect, especially in the Turbo/R-Line and TDI models. Put it all together and you have a very enjoyable and distinctive small car.
Current Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen offers its Beetle hatchback in four main trim levels. The base trim will be known as the 2.5L until the engine that name refers to is replaced, resulting in a change of name to 1.8T. Equipment will be the same, though. Other trims include the R-Line, diesel-powered TDI and the GSR, which is essentially a loaded R-Line with a unique color scheme. The convertible version of the Beetle is reviewed separately.
The 2.5L comes with a 2.5-liter inline five-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a six-speed automatic transmission is optional. Its 1.8T replacement has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four with 170 hp and 184 lb-ft. The TDI version features a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four (140 hp and 236 lb-ft), while the sporty R-Line and GSR models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four (210 hp and 207 lb-ft.) Transmission choices for the TDI and R-Line include a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (DSG).
Even the base Beetle comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, air-conditioning, leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, heated front seats, 50/50-split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker sound system with an iPod interface. Also standard is VW's Car-Net telematics system. The TDI further includes keyless ignition and entry, satellite radio, a touchscreen audio interface and a performance gauge package. Highlights of the R-Line include 18-inch wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats and performance gauges. The GSR is essentially an R-Line with a sunroof, a larger rear spoiler, an upgraded audio system and a navigation system along with a unique yellow-and-black color scheme. Major options include a sunroof, xenon headlights, a touchscreen navigation system, a rearview camera and a Fender premium sound system.
Regardless of which Beetle you get, chances are you'll be impressed with how attractive the cabin is, with its clean lines and the color-matched dash panels on select models. There are a few more hard plastics than you'll find in its Golf sibling, however. Despite its seemingly low roof line, the Beetle still provides plenty of room for tall drivers. The backseat is also fairly spacious, though not as roomy as that of the Golf. One item we're not fond of is the optional navigation system. While it's pretty easy to use, its small screen limits the amount of information that can be displayed.
How the Volkswagen Beetle drives largely depends on the engine you choose. The base five-cylinder is respectably powerful, but it sounds unrefined and gets unremarkable fuel economy. We'd make sure to get its 1.8T mid-year replacement instead. It's a significantly superior engine in terms of power delivery, refinement and efficiency. The TDI offers incredible mileage -- we've seen real-world 40 mpg fuel economy. The Beetle R-Line, meanwhile, has plenty of punch and sounds great.
In terms of handling, the Beetle's steering and handling are not especially engaging, falling more in line with the less engaging Jetta rather than the sportier, more European-feeling Golf. The R-Line handles better, but not dramatically so. If you're looking for a VW GTI with more interesting styling, you'll be disappointed.
Used Volkswagen Beetle Models
The Volkswagen Beetle debuted for the 2012 model year. In that first year, VW offered a base trim level for the Beetle. It was cheaper than the 2.5L, but it came with the manual transmission only and lacked certain features such as Bluetooth. That year also saw a couple of special "Launch Edition" versions of the Turbo trim (equivalent to today's R-Line).
The following year brought a few additions to the lineup. The TDI and its turbocharged diesel debuted, along with its conservative EPA fuel economy estimate of 32 mpg combined. In the real world, this car could average closer to 40 mpg. The convertible also debuted that year, as did the one-year-only Fender signature version that featured a dash treatment inspired by the finish seen on the company's popular guitars.
These Beetles are similar to the current offerings apart from lacking the telematics system, the GSR version, the availability of a rearview camera and 10 fewer horsepower for the Turbo trim (Its name changed to R-Line for 2014).
For used car information on the previous-generation model (produced from 1998-2010), please see our review of the New Beetle.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 29.00
Exploding Glass!! - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
By jeffjj7 - November 8 - 3:13 am
We've had our new VW Bug for about 8 weeks. Made one payment on it. Wish we knew about the window issue prior to purchase! 2 weeks ago traveling at 50mph the driver side window literally EXPLODED... yes I said exploded... sounded like a collision. Called the police as I thought someone may have thrown something that hit the window. Not so. Took to dealer where they prepared to fix the prob only to find that they called people in from Detroit Corperate to have a look see... the next day! Picture and all in hand the fix procedure was on only to find out the glass was backordered. Couple this with rude no-customer service and no reselution my next stop is the AG in the great stae of GA.
Luv my punch buggy! - 2014 Volkswagen Beetle
By Karen LaGrasse - July 19 - 8:14 pm
This is a Great car! Agile, fun to drive, lots of power, great on gas, and very cool looking. Have had many beetles thru-out my life, and I'm loving my 2014 turbo R-Line! Closest they've come to the Karmin Ghia design for awhile with a truly gorgeous interior, and exterior even with the duck-tail. A 'Drivers Wanted' dream! A bit pricey, but worth it to me. So sorry about the diesels, but I will always be a VW affectionado!
A great sport coupe for not a lot money - 2017 Volkswagen Beetle
By D. Rod - July 9 - 12:26 am
I originally went to the VW dealer to buy a GTI but I didn't like the car. It looks great and the GTI title suggests that it's a grand touring car but it's more of a track car, not what I was looking for. So, after testing the GTI, I rested my back a little bit (the GTI suspension is rock hard) then tried the Beetle S. And, I loved it. It's a solid sports coupe with the perfect mix of performance and comfort. Also, it's quite a good value. These are the key features: an Audi derived turbo charged four cylinder (smooth and powerful), automatic transmission that can be shifted manually, Hankook GT tires (great performance tires with a lot of grip), multilink independent rear suspension, and a radiator grill done NASCAR style (positioned down low). You can get all this for about $21,000. It's hard to find another brand that offers all this at that price point. Bottom line, it's a lot of fun to drive. I drove a 2007 VW Rabbit for 10 years and the only maintenance, other than routine, was the replacement of transmission driveshaft boots. So, I think it's reasonable to expect this car to be just as reliable. Also, just a final note, VW engineers chose this car to race in Red Bull Global Rallycross in which it won two championships.
VW Knew about the Window problems - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
By bink11 - February 15 - 4:08 am
VW knew about the window problems, because the Convertible Bug had been plagued with them the entire run of the line. I traded in my 2004 Convertible Beetle for the new one because it seemed like the only way to fix the window problem once and for all. Now, here I am day one and I don't have my new car because it is back at the Dealership being "fixed". I'm lucky apparently because the Dealership I use has a great staff who really do their best to solve problems, but when the problem is the manufacturer... All I can say is avoid VW's. If anyone stops to ask me about the car, it isn't going to go well for the company.
A Very Satisfied Husband and Wife - 2014 Volkswagen Beetle
By Francis J Wanat Jr - October 16 - 8:46 pm
For the price and condition this was a fantastic purchase. My first car forty- six years ago was a Beetle Bug and although the air-cooled engine is no longer, the reliability and technology are very much in the product. My wife and I have no regrets. We have a loaded SUV and she claimed the Bug as hers before we returned home from the purchase. It was also a wonderful purchase experience as we were already qualified for credit and knew what we wanted having done extensive on-line research. One year later - March, 2017 My wife and I are still very satisfied with the Beetle and could not be happier. It is a second vehicle that we garage for about six months of the year as we go north to Maine with our SUV. That being said, we put 3,000+ mph on it and are more than pleased. It is a very good product which has protected its reliability. It is true that my first was German made and this was manufactured in Mexico, but VW has certainly maintained the integrity of the Bug!!!
Best Beetle ever made...Got me back into VW! - 2014 Volkswagen Beetle
By Sean - October 15 - 1:30 pm
VW should advertise this car. It is so much fun to drive. Gets better gas mileage than advertised. Faster than 2014 GTI. Great handling. Powerful Turbo Motor. Looks like old bugs again...Only.... the new one has a great heater......AND it Is really safe. My R-line beats up on classic muscle cars. I love my R-Line and plan to keep it forever! Test drive one. The R-Line Beetle sells itself. With new Civic having engine troubles this year 2016...Time to look at a Beetle? Because of my R-Line I am building a 1965 VW Beetle. Got me back into VW's as a hobby! Again; I love my VW Beetle R-Line Coupe. It honors the old Beetle and has the tech to make it relevant now! UPDATE: 3 years owning this car now, and I love it even more! BEST BEETLE EVER MADE. Test drive one and you will understand. Even the 1.8T is quick compared to other cars in the range. My sister and parents now own modern Beetles and a New Beetle convertible. Unitronic and APR for this car! Stage 1 will blow your mind. Peace, Love, and VW! (#1 Automaker in the world at time of this update. 2-10-2017)
The Classic is a Perfect Fit - 2015 Volkswagen Beetle
By Michael Clark - September 30 - 11:21 pm
I traded in my '12 GTI DSG for the '15 Beetle Classic. This is the fifth VW I have owned, second Beetle. It is not as sporting as the GTI, but it has plenty of pick up for everyday driving. The suspension can be a let down when things get twisty - but only when you try to get aggressive. As a boulevard cruiser and run-about, this car shines and looks great doing it. Love the 2-tone special interior (similar vibe to the Spartan plaid interiors on the GTI) and the body-color matched interior panels on the door, steering wheel and console. The Classic is the least expensive Beetle and has a few items missing from it's specs - but nothing I would miss. (Push button start and rear backup cameras are the two big things I can recall.) What you get are vintage styled wheels, unique interior, and the navigation stereo package with Bluetooth and Satellite. Once you learn the basics, it all works pretty well. I was surprised that I get pretty much the same mpg as my GTI with a smaller, less powerful engine. It is also disappointing, as the Jetta and Golf both do a few clicks better with the same engine. The new Golf is perhaps a more practical choice all-around and it wasn't easy to ignore it, but the Beetle styling and vintage vibe won me over - you only get to drive one car at a time. With just under 5k miles so far, I am very happy with the car - a few quirks and minor complaints (wind noise around the window seal, the gas cover detached from its tether, my friend almost broke the sun shade making an adjustment) don't reduce my enjoyment of the car and the compliments I have received.
Black Turbo Launch - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
By 2012beetle - June 28 - 6:00 pm
My 2012 Beetle is a blast to drive. It feels great in the curves and shoots out of them with a force. It very comfortable and the arrangment inside makes since and everything is handy for use. BIG PROBLEM - The drivers door automatic window does not function correctly. From day one it does not close all the way and takes 5-6 attempts to get it to go all the way up. It has been rained in two times already because of this. I took it to the dealer and they say there is no problem and if there is it's because of the window tint. I explained it has had a problem since day one and that there are numerous complaints across the internet regarding the same problem.
Amazing performance, and little gas consumption! - 2014 Volkswagen Beetle
By Gabeybaby - June 18 - 1:01 pm
Terrific to drive, a true driver's car. I'm 6'4" and I fit in nicely. Excellent gas mileage, 30mpg on daily driving! Premium gas only.... The fit and finish is EL CHEAPO. Flimsy upholstery and lots of hard plastic. Rear seats are "pretend", it should be classified as a 2+2...Interior components fail, having seat railings and the seatbelt changed under warranty. Also, several issues with engine oil leaks were fixed under warranty, and I am a rather gentle driver, so reliability is not all that good at all. It looks beautiful, it's designed to accommodate all drivers, even very tall ones. It's great on gas and, with the GTI engine, it's a BLAST!
7 months and window still not fixed - 2012 Volkswagen Beetle
By anubis2012 - June 18 - 11:34 am
I bought myself a new 2012 VW Beetle for Christmas on Christmas Eve 2011. Since day one the driver window will not function properly and close. Most times it starts up the reverses and goes back down even when you hold the button in the up position. 7 months later even today I was told VW is researching the problem with no fix yet. I just took a 2+ week trip to remote areas of CA, UT and NV. It was very annoying not to have functioning windows.