Volkswagen redesigned its Beetle hatchback for the 2012 model year. Sporting more retro cues than its predecessor, the Beetle can have either of two gas engines or a diesel, the latter of which gets up to an estimated 41 mpg on the highway. Competitors include retro hatchbacks like the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500.
New for 2013
Volkswagen adds a convertible to the Beetle lineup for 2013. A new Beetle Fender Edition includes a Fender stereo along with special styling, bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights with LED daytime running lights and 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
Beetle Turbo models — both the coupe and convertible — get a horsepower boost as well as R-Line bumpers. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine now makes 210 horsepower and shaves 0.2 seconds from the car's zero-to-60-mph time, which is now 6.6 seconds.
A new Beetle Turbo R-Line joins the lineup. It features the same 210-hp engine along with 19-inch wheels, R-Line badges, custom sill plates and unique dashboard trim.
Volkswagen combined retro and modern design cues in styling the Beetle. While the front represents an evolution of the prior generation, which was sold in the U.S. from the 1998 to the 2010 model year, the rear half draws heavily on the original Beetle with its flattened roofline and C-pillars that form an arc extending to the rear bumper. Those might seem like subtle changes, but they significantly change the car's appearance.
The Beetle is also a bigger car, measuring 3.3 inches wider and 6 inches longer than its predecessor. Exterior features include:
- Available 19-inch wheels
- Available panoramic moonroof
- Available rear spoiler
- Available bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps with LED daytime running lights
The prior-generation Beetle's interior aged remarkably well, but it was time for an update, and last year's redesign provided it. Premium cabin materials and attention to detail result in the kind of high-grade interior we've come to expect from VW. Throwback features include dual glove boxes and optional auxiliary readouts — an oil temperature gauge, a clock and a boost gauge — that sit atop the middle of the dashboard.
Front bucket seats and a two-person backseat provide room for up to four people. Folding the split backseat expands the 10.9-cubic-foot cargo area. Interior features include:
- Available touch-screen CD stereo and navigation
- Available Fender premium stereo
- Available keyless access and push-button start
Under the Hood
The base 170-hp, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine works with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The turbo 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder engine makes 140 hp, while the performance-oriented turbocharged 2.0-liter gas four-cylinder makes 210 hp and works with a limited-slip differential. Both the diesel and turbocharged gas engine team with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. Mechanical features include:
- Front-wheel drive
- Diesel version is clean enough to be sold anywhere in the U.S.
Safety features include:
- Antilock brakes
- Side curtain airbags
- Electronic stability system
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