If you’ve written off the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle as “more of the same in a slightly restyled body,” you’ve missed the entire point behind VW’s redesign of the beloved Beetle last year.
While the previous generation “New Beetle” quickly wore out its welcome with a dated shape and odd interior packaging, the 2013 Beetle is a much cleaner design that no longer feels like a rebodied Volkswagen Golf. The lines are truer to the original, too, which makes it far more timeless in our eyes.
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle is hardly “one size fits all” when it comes to available engines and packages. A Beetle convertible joins the fold this year, as does an eagerly-anticipated turbodiesel model, which is also available in topless form.
Budget permitting, the Beetle TDI would be our first choice. Its impressively-smooth 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine delivers an EPA estimated 32 mpg combined (28 mpg city and 41 mpg highway) with the six-speed manual, returning 29 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Opt for the manual gearbox, and you’ll be rewarded with a light clutch and shift throws that are nothing like the vintage Beetle you once drove, along with slightly better highway fuel economy than the automatic.
Base Beetle models get the same 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine used by Volkswagen in the Passat and Jetta sedans. It’s smooth enough and it delivers reasonable acceleration, but fuel economy isn’t great. The EPA rates the 2.5-liter Beetle at 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway) with the automatic transmission and 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) with the five-speed manual.
The third engine choice is perhaps the most entertaining, and it doesn’t penalize the user with excessive fuel consumption. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder used in the Beetle Turbo boasts 200 horsepower, yet still returns 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway) with the DSG transmission and 25 mph combined (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) with the six-speed manual.
No matter which version your budget and preferences dictate, all return a comfortable ride and capable handling, though we’d stop short of calling most versions “sporty.” Depending upon your point of view, that may be a good thing, since Volkswagen Beetles (in coupe or convertible form) were traditionally more focused on practicality than on performance and handling.
Inside, front passengers will enjoy plenty of head, leg and shoulder room in both the hard-top and soft-top Beetle models. Trunk space under the hatchback third door is reasonable in both variants, too, but the wind deflector takes up some of the storage room in the convertible version.
Like all Volkswagen models these days, even base Beetles come well equipped. A USB interface, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a fairly decent audio system are all standard, but buyers can choose from trim levels that include upgraded audio, navigation and a sunroof on coupe versions. Volkswagen is also playing on the nostalgia factor, as a range of special edition Beetles (honoring the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s) will be available.
For more details, see the full review of the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle
on our sister site, TheCarConnection.