VW’s Beetle is by all accounts fun, zippy and with that in mind, youthful. It’s also an iconic car that’s core design has lasted the test of time. But is it a driver’s car?
No. Not in the truest form. But it’s certainly on pace with VW’s other sportier offerings, which is both good and bad. Good because the ride is compliant and thus making the car fun to drive. Bad, because at times it can be a bit rough, or not quite soft enough to always deliver a comfortable ride. Nevertheless, it’s a good balance and one that has left me impressed with the diminutive car.
However, my Beetle cost well north of $30,000. I thought this was a youth targeted car? At that price point you could step into a mid tier Hyundai with perhaps many more bells and whistles. Making matters worse, it would seem auto headlights and a back up camera aren’t standard. And yes, you’ll want both of those things. Or at least the back up camera in the case of the convertible version of the car, as the back window is so small, and thus the blind spots so massive, backing up is a test in faith and patience. Roof down and it’s really a none issue. But still, VW should have seen this glaring shortcoming and fixed it, especially since cabriolets always have a higher price tag than their hard top counterparts.
What I haven’t told you, at least not yet, is that my Beetle was an R version. This equates to a 2.0l 4 banger that knocks out 210hp. And with it some get up and go that is neither neck braking or underwhelming. Everything is hooked up via a 6-speed manual that is nice and notchy, and left little to be desired. I didn’t get as much spirited driving in as I’d had hoped, but I was all together impressed with the performance, handling and overall build of the car.
Save for the trunk, though. It’s small and won’t accommodate much thanks to a rather narrow opening. Fortunately, the trunk can expand into the back seat, but then you’ll have to be willing to compromise on two occupants. Albeit two very small occupants. I was also a little surprised, especially in this day and age, that VW is still including a cover for the retractable roof. Who will install it only to inconvenience themselves, I don’t know. But that said, the roof is electric and goes up and down with haste, even while driving at low speeds.
Bluetooth is standard, as are the 18-inch wheels and nav system. Damn well better be this price. There is a instrument cluster with 3 dials, displaying boost, oil temperature and a manually activated analog stopwatch with a built-in digital display. It’s a nice touch, but one that won’t get used very often, if at all. But the same can be said about the chronographs in watches. And I always buy them because, well, they just look better. Also standard is an iPod connection from 1995. I kid. But it’s the iPhone 4s or older (15-pin) connector and like Audi, a massive oversight, especially in light of the VW’s youthful target (this should be upgradable to a lightning connector as my Golf TSI had one).
So, did I like the 2014 VW Beetle? Yes. However, I still can’t get passed the lack of back up camera and all together price. To be candid the R line is optional, and its starting price is $25,195. But I don’t recall my version boasting anything above and beyond the usual amenities. Though, with some further thought it did include a Fender Premium audio system with LED rings around the speakers that can change color at the push of a button.
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