With its rounded shape and retro styling, the modern-day Beetle continues to be one of the most iconic, easily recognizable vehicles in the world. Though the exterior recalls its vintage roots, the distinctive appearance is hardly indicative of the features and technology housed within its curvaceous framework. The Beetle comes in hardtop or convertible form with several possible configurations at each trim level, giving buyers a host of options to choose from. Diesel power has disappeared in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions-testing scandal of 2015, but Beetle shoppers can choose from two gasoline engines.
What's New for 2017
In addition to a few exterior design updates, the Beetle lineup is expanding to include hardtop and convertible versions of the Dune edition, a limited-production #PinkBeetle, and a revival of the retro-focused Classic model. Bolder-looking bumpers aim to suggest the more costly R-Line model. In previous years, manual shift was invariably standard, with an automatic transmission optional. Manual gearboxes faded away as the 2017 model year began, but might be revived later. Meanwhile, the Classic version has returned after a year’s absence.
Choosing Your Volkswagen Beetle
In addition to the vintage yet modern styling of the Beetle, a major component of its appeal has been the engine under the front hood. This year, with the diesel option gone, Volkswagen offers two distinct four-cylinder gas engines and transmissions to choose from.
The base power source is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, mating with a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 24-mpg city/33-mpg highway (28 mpg combined) for both the hardtop and the convertible. Estimates drop to 24/31 mpg (27 mpg combined) for the Dune edition.
In R-Line models, a zippy 2-liter turbocharged engine develops 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Instead of a conventional automatic transmission, the R-Line gets a six-speed dual-clutch DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) unit. Gas mileage is estimated at 23/29 mpg city/highway.
Beetles may be equipped with blind spot monitoring that includes rear cross-traffic alert.
The basic 1.8T S serves as a worthy entry point for shoppers seeking good overall value. For the price, it includes a surprising number of features. If performance is a compelling incentive and price isn’t an obstacle, head directly for the R-Line, which really peps up this always-familiar, fun-to-drive car.
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