By Asian Journal Auto Editor
The future is uncertain for the Beetle, which may be reincarnated as an electric vehicle in the coming years, with 2019 marking the last year for the second generation of the brand’s best-known nameplate. Originally conceived in 1938, in Germany as “the people’s car.” More than 20 million copies of the air-cooled, 1938-2003 Beetle model were sold worldwide—making it the most manufactured single design car of all time. The new Beetle has undergone very good restyling that added some refinement and edginess to the curvy design that has extended its lifespan. The “new” Beetle was introduced in 2003 and although popular, falling sales have probably led to its demise. Not many changes from a 2017 update, although there are lots of special editions to keep collectors and aficionados of the Beetle happy. There is the a convertible and the off-road inspired Dune version, while optional style packages offer 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, fog lights, a choice of black or brown roof and diamond-stitched leather seating in black, beige or brown. There is a revised front fascia and rear spoiler, plus new wheel designs, a two-tone interior colour scheme, a leather steering wheel, shifter and handbrake lever, heated seats, 6.33-inch colour infotainment with proximity buttons, a backup camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
We tested a special edition Wolfsburg Edition Beetle in a stonewash blue with a brown roof. Unique features included: 18 -inch disc alloy wheels, and chrome detailing around the front fascia plus special Beetle badging on the rear hatchback. Also added was the P2V Style package, which also includes wonderful looking diamond stitching on the car’s coffee colored leather upholstery, front and rear, HID headlights, LED taillights, and sport seats, Like all Beetles, the Wolfsburg is available as both a coupe and a convertible with such features as: rearview camera, keyless entry, blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, front sport seats, automatic climate control, navigation, smartphone integration, The 6.33-inch touchscreen with proximity sensors, a CD player is also included, along with satellite radio. Front-seat headroom is good, but while adults will fit in the rear twin seats, legroom is not great. Interior storage is tight and there is only a modest rear trunk cargo space. However the rear seatbacks flip down 50/50 for transporting longer items. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are well integrated along with the easy to use VW Discover Media interface
On the road with 174 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, the Beetle offers decent enough performance, but it is no hot rod- look to the Golf GTI for more scintillating performance. Handling is fine with a softer sprung suspension aimed for comfort. Behind the wheel, the Beetle is enjoyable to drive. The turbo engine is lively. Don’t expect GTI performance, but there is enough power for pleasurable running around. The suspension is dialed more for comfort than sport, along with transmission unit aimed at conserving fuel. The Beetle is polite, easy to drive car as it should being derived from the word class VW Golf platform. The suspension is fully independent, and provided a comfortable stable ride, not overtly as sporty as the Golf, but certainly not pedestrian by any means. The 2.0 litre four-cylinder’s generates plenty of torque and power is well distributed via the six speed autobox a little quicker thanks to the Tiptronic manual option. The big windscreen, firm, comfortable seats and high seating position make the Beetle an easy, and relaxing car to drive. The Volkswagen Beetle is a fun to own and experience, with a lot of emotional appeal. Not boring, not ordinary – and looking like nothing else on the road, the Beetle still brings a smile to people everywhere. Highly recommended as an alternative to a traditional coupe! Fuel consumption estimates are 9.0/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway). With rumours of its demise confirmed, I for one would buy this edition if you have always hankered after a Beetle. It could be your last chance to own an automotive icon.
2019 Volkswagen Beetle Wolfsburg Special Edition. Base MRSP $28,475. Price as tested with options $30,225 plus freight, PDI and taxes. More info at: www.vw.ca