By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle is one of those cars that is more about desire than practicality. People buy it because it's clever and cute and fun. VW understands this, so they've made their latest Bug as livable as possible, giving it a usable back seat, an optional high-mileage diesel engine and even a convertible model for open-air buffs. Based on the Golf, the Beetle rides atop a very capable platform that delivers competent handling as well as impressive safety. Larger than the niche cars it competes with, namely the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500, the 2014 VW Beetle makes living with a small car a bit easier, especially when it comes time to bring along friends and family.
If you're looking for distinctive styling in a well-equipped small car, the 2014 VW Beetle not only offers it, it does so with a wide choice of engines, options and colors.
Exclusivity has its price. If you need a vehicle that can regularly fit four passengers, a 4-door Mini Cooper Countryman or Fiat 500L makes a better choice. Also, if you like a car that lets you pick and choose your options, VW's trim-specific packaging may frustrate your creative side.
A new 1.8-liter turbo is set to replace the 2.5-liter engine midway through the 2014 product cycle. Also new is an independent rear suspension, a limited-edition GSR trim, VW CarNet and a rearview camera on top-line trims (late availability). For 2014 the Turbo models are renamed R-Line.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Volkswagen Beetle is one of those cars that both excites and lets you down at the same time. The excitement comes from the car's cool looks, its handsome...... and sophisticated interior build and its smooth, stable ride. But, when VW offers the optional 2.0-liter turbo from the GTI, we're a bit disappointed the GTI's taut suspension and dynamic handling were not included in the swap. Given the Beetle's intended audience, however, its softer ride and less aggressive handling won't be criticized harshly, and the new independent rear suspension does improve things a bit. The new 1.8-liter turbocharged engine is a welcome replacement for the previous 5-cylinder, offering better performance and fuel economy. Enthusiasts will want to opt for the R-Line's 2.0-liter turbo and manual transmission, while penny pinchers will find the TDI diesel offers excellent fuel economy yet is still surprisingly quick.
Nobody does retro better than VW. The 2014 Beetle's interior pays homage to the original car without sacrificing the quality, look and feel of a 21st-century VW product.
There's an old saying that "wheels make the car," and in the Beetle's case, it's true. Be it the retro Heritage wheel that mimics the old Beetle's chrome hubcaps, or the stylish Twister and Tornado wheels on the R-Line and GSR, the Beetle's original wheel designs are four of its most attractive features.
The instrument panel of the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle is simply one of the best. It recalls the original Beetle's rounded edges and curving shapes, it's a testament to clean design, and it shows the sort of classical timelessness exemplified by, say, a 1959 Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. The entire layout inside the Beetle celebrates function, with all the necessary controls and information displays arranged for ready access. Case in point, the Beetle Convertible's power soft top activates with the touch of a button, even while traveling at speeds up to 18 mph.Exterior
The 2014 VW Beetle looks bigger in the metal than it does in photos, so many people expect something more compact. Actually, the overall form owes more to the original Beetle than to the "New Beetle" of the last several years. Where the previous model was very rounded, with a high-arching roofline, this version is lower, certainly more aggressive-looking and has a stronger family resemblance to its earlier ancestors, particularly in the side profile and window treatments. We think this is a good thing, as the car looks more assertive and more firmly planted on the pavement.
The base 2.5L (which becomes 1.8 later in the model year), R-Line and TDI models each come in various trim levels. The base 2.5L model has 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, Leatherette seating and stability control. Moving up to the 2.5L w/Sunroof adds a sunroof, satellite radio and Premium VIII audio (not available on TDI). The Sun, Sound and Nav package brings 18-inch alloy wheels, a Fender Premium Audio System and touch-screen navigation. Similar progressions happen with the R-Line and TDI, though the sportier R-Line starts with 18-inch alloy wheels and Cross Differential limited-slip system, and ends up with 19-inch alloy wheels and bi-xenon headlights.
Since the Beetle add-ons are largely grouped into trim-level packages, the only additional options are minor items having to do with vehicle protection, floor mats and graphics treatments. But one item worth special mention, if you can pop for one of the top-line trims, is the terrific Fender Audio System. It's easy to operate and delivers great sound. If you're an audiophile, you need to check this out. Customers can also purchase various wheels through the VW accessories catalog, but will pay full retail, as VW doesn't allow buyers to delete and substitute factory wheel choices.
The base engine in the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L is a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder available with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. This engine is due to be phased out midway through 2014 and replaced with an all-new, 1.8-liter turbocharged engine. There are two other commendable optional 4-cylinder engines. The 2.0-liter turbo, a favorite of ours in other VW models, makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Fitted with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG automatic, this inline-4 delivers performance that is more than just spirited. The Beetle TDI's 2.0-liter turbodiesel delivers 140 horsepower and a very impressive 236 lb-ft of torque, and is matched with a 6-speed manual or Tiptronic automatic transmission. The TDI offers remarkable around-town get-up-and-go and thrifty fuel economy.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 22/29 mpg (automatic)
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
170 horsepower @ 4,800-6,200
184 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,750
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 (manual), 25/33 (automatic), 24,32 (automatic, Beetle Convertible)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg (manual), 24/30 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/41 mpg (manual), 29/39 mpg (automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L with manual transmission is just shy of $21,000, which is in the ballpark with the Fiat 500 Lounge, Mini Cooper and Scion tC. The R-Line starts a little over $25,500 with a manual transmission, and the DSG automatic adds about $900. A fully optioned R-Line, with the Sunroof, Sound & Navigation package, will reach $32,000. Convertible models open at just under $26,000 and top out close to $32,000. The TDI runs from around $25,000 to $28,000. Be sure and check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price to see what other buyers in your area have paid for Beetles. Residual values for the 2014 VW Beetle should be about the same as those of the Scion tC, less than those for the Mini Cooper, and more than those for the Fiat 500.
By Andy on Monday, October 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun. Good mileage."
Cons: "Not smooth."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have the Fender turbo and got it at 16,000 two months ago and I have added 4,000 miles. I am still exploring its possibilities, meaning how hard and fast can I throw it into a corner, how quickly it will get going and how well it grips. The story so far: It is easy to spin the front wheels because of the low down torque and front drive. The torques all come together at 1700 with a rush, even though the scroller is running from go. In normal drive the lag is too long to be confident in sudden maneuvers but in sport it is much better. You can also have it in nanny tiptronic; put it in the gear you want and if you are stressing the engine too much it will put you back in drive. Once you have everything together...look out! You will be up somebody' s butt before you know it and hoping the breaks kick in before it becomes a life long relationship. Yes, the breaks are an issue; like the engine, it is a while before they wake up and do their thing, once they do, it is suddenly and with a grab. But all of this doesn't matter at all if you've found the right HD station, you will be too lost listening to the amazing clarity, depth and isolation of the different instruments and voices. Along those lines: at night get out of the car quickly or you will just sit there listening to the music and looking at all the great design details of the dash: the cool red glow of the speaker bezel and subtle light coming from the door trim. How they do that I have no idea. Who knew german designers were hip as well as good? So it is the start of our affair and I for one want to carry on, who knows how it will end up?"
2 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By VW_Guy on Thursday, September 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Distinct look, clean interior, fender sound"
Cons: "Fair turbo lag."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"My rating is based on a 29k r-line beetle. Overall I love my car. it has a distinct look inside and out and is well worth getting the r-line trim. It has a FENDER sound system which is a true luxury. Interior wise the dash with its touchscreen and "carbon fiber" look is clean. The fabric seats are my least favorite when compared to my brother's fabric seats (2012 Golf GTI). I am 5'7 and my brother is 6'2 and we both fit comfortably driving. Back seat is virtually non-existent without front people pressed against dashboard. Basically a 2-seater. There is a tad of turbo lag which isn't the end of the world in my opinion being that i don't slam the gas pedal at every green light. Average driver may not even notice. VW are good, reliable vehicles for the price."
12 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Mainiac on Monday, August 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, price, looks, trunk space, heated seats"
Cons: "Put 36K miles on it way too quickly!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you seek bland styling, this is not the car for you. My Launch edition has been terrific. We get a lot of snow and ice, so I use a set of Blizzak tires, and this little buggy goes anywhere. I've passed stuck SUVs and have felt completely safe with the handling of this car. For me, the Beetle has more character and better road feed-back than the Honda Civic. With the rear seats folded down, I have loaded the back up with incredible amounts of stuff (monthly Sam's shopping!). With the hatch open, even brought a full size refrigerator home once."
17 people out of 29 found this review helpful