2013 Volkswagen Beetle

The original Volkswagen was the biggest selling car of all time with 21.5 million first generation Beetles sold across the planet. The “New” Beetle sold over one million between 1998 and 2010, much smaller number but still significant if not in numbers, but culturally. The Beetle is one of the best loved cars of all time along with the Mini (Disclaimer here, I am British!). The Beetle along with the Volkswagen Golf are the two most iconic cars for Volkswagen and it is one of the most recognized brands and automotive forms on the planet.

So why get rid of a good thing? And I am glad they did not as the new redesigned Beetle is much more impressive than the outgoing model in so many areas. It has been a long time coming, but it is well worth the wait.

On the outside the first thing apparent the new car is now bigger: 84 mm wider, 152 mm longer and 12 mm lower than the 2010 New Beetle.

The 2013 Beetle also has much more rear headroom and a more practical user-friendly rear seat. Some cool features with a retro touch include, interior dash and door caps on all but the 2.0T models that are color matched to the exterior colours, as found on old Beetles The rear-view mirror is a retro shaped oval affair like the original and the 2012 Beetle features the ‘Beetle box’, dash box with an upward raising lid. Our tester’s bright red exterior color was carried through to the interior dash and door caps and looked just stunning.

There are two engine choices a 2.5-litre, 170-hp, 5-cylinder with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, and a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic. A 2.0 TDI diesel is on the horizon later on. The 2.5-litre engine is the standard for the two lower trim lines, Comfortline and Highline. Note the Beetle is a two- door coupe only and convertible should hopefully be on the horizon soon.

Trim lines are the Comfortline and Highline with 2.5-litre, and the Sportline with 2.0-litre.

Features on the Comfortline include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, heated cloth seats, 50/50 split-folding rear seats, keyless entry, power windows, three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, body-colour bumpers, cruise control, heated washer nozzles, interior chrome package, heated mirrors, and CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input.

The Highline adds 17-inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, chrome interior accents, eight-way driver and six-way passenger manually-adjustable cloth sport seats, fog lights, pushbutton ignition, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, and rear seat pockets.

The Sportline adds 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seats, alloy sport pedals, red brake calipers, dual exhaust, black exterior accents, black mirrors, sport suspension, sound generator, and rear spoiler. The DSG-equipped model includes steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Sportline’s interior panels are gloss black as opposed to body color.

A connectivity package ($675) and a panoramic sunroof ($1,400) is available for all models, while navigation with the Fender premium audio system ($1,290) can be ordered for the Highline and Sportline.

Our tester was a special market introduction “Premiere+” model with the 2.5 liter 170 hp engine.

The Premier+ features included the cool looking 18 inch ‘Twister’ All-Black finish wheels, fender premium audio system with 400 watt digital sound; the performance power sunroof ($1400) for a total price of $26,575.

Other changes include the absence of the cute bud vase the huge flat upper dash panel. The interior dash maybe retro looking, but the Beetles interior is modern, well finished and very nicely equipped. The available Fender premium audio system sounds superb and well worth the money if audiophile sound quality is important to you. Navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, leather upholstery, heated front seats and an eight-way manual driver’s seat (six-way passenger), three-colour ambient lighting (lights up the door speaker rings and the door caps underpanel in either white, red or blue) and 50/50 split-folding rear seat all add to convenience, comfort and versatility. Cargo capacity is 436 L (15.4 cu.ft.).

The Beetle is fun to drive with its nice high driving position and great visibility. The very responsive and torquey (207 lb.-ft.) 2.5 litre engine offer good acceleration and the DSG is a fast, smooth transmission option that makes great use of the engines power band. The Beetle also feels more agile and responsive in the handling department than the outgoing model. Fuel consumption for our 2.5 liter tester with the automatic transmission is rated at Highway: 6.4 L/100 km and City: 9.5 L/100 km. The latest incarnation of the Beetle is very well executed and should find lots of buyers.

Its level of comfort, performance and style makes it a winner as a retro classic with a modern twist.

2013 Volkswagen Beetle priced from $21,975 – $26,575