By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
The 2013 Volkswagen Beetle is the kind of car you buy not because you need it, but because you absolutely want it. Nowhere is this reality more strongly represented than in the new Beetle Convertible. As a "boutique" car, the VW Beetle delivers heavily on style, image, emotional appeal and ownership that transcend mere transportation. This niche segment could reasonably include the likes of the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Hyundai Veloster, and even the sibling VW GTI. Yet, the 2013 Beetle is an attractive selection in its own right, with all the mechanical, technological and feature benefits you would expect from Volkswagen. It's powered by a 2.5-liter 5-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 powerhouse or a new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel, and wrapped in the most familiar shape on the road.
If you're attracted to the striking shape – as we certainly are – you can't help liking the 2013 VW Beetle. Inside and out, it's a constant reminder that you're making an unmistakable style statement.
If you want an economical 2-door with plenty of room for four occupants and all their stuff, there are better choices than the 2013 Beetle. The back seat is a little cramped, the low roof line detracts from interior room, the sleek shape cuts into trunk capacity, and there are certainly less-expensive alternatives.
Diesel power comes to the Beetle for 2013. Available in hardtop and convertible models, Volkswagen's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine posts some impressive numbers: 236 lb-ft of torque and 28/41 city/highway mpg. Also, the Beetle Fender Edition, a special trim package presented in cooperation with the iconic electric-guitar maker, is currently available through dealer order.
Driving Impressions Driving the 2013 Beetle, we are both entertained and disappointed. Entertained, because it does everything well: All controls feel direct and responsive, and the behavior is stable and refined. Disappointed,...because we wish this latest iteration of the Beetle had the more spirited dynamics of VW's GTI, one of our all-time favorites. The Beetle seems tuned for a softer ride and less aggressive handling, though truthfully, most drivers won't mind. The 2.5-liter 5-cylinder base engine is adequate, but we prefer the 2.0-liter turbo-4, which delivers lusty performance with little penalty in fuel economy. The new diesel engine changes the character of the car some, as its thrust lives low in the rev bend, but it's still entertaining. The 2013 VW Beetle feels like one solid piece whether you're going down the road or carving up mountain passes.
Too often, efforts to evoke the past in modern incarnations do an injustice to both the past and the present. But the 2013 VW Beetle's interior layout and instrument panel salute the original Beetle while managing to be attractive, functional and up-to-date.
The 2013 Beetle's base 2.5-liter 5-cylinder is completely satisfactory, but the 2.0-liter turbo-4 is a real stormer throughout its rev range, and our preference. For the truly economy-minded, the new-for-2013 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel offers exceptional fuel economy and impressive low-speed torque.
The instrument panel of the 2013 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 2013 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 2.5L, Turbo and TDI models each come in three trim levels. The 2.5L model has 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, Leatherette seating and stability control. Moving up to the 2.5L w/Sunroof adds (surprise!) a sunroof, satellite radio, Premium VIII audio and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The "Sun, Sound and Nav" package brings 18-inch alloy wheels, a Fender Premium Audio System, a trip computer and navigation with touch screen. Similar progressions happen with the Turbo and TDI lines, though the sportier Turbo 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.
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. The 2.5L is rated at 170 horsepower and delivers perfectly acceptable, if not exactly soul-stirring, performance. There are two 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)
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: 19/30 mpg (manual), 22/30 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 2013 Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L with manual transmission is just over $20,000, which is in the ballpark with the Fiat 500 Lounge, Mini Cooper and Scion tC. The 2.0 Turbo starts a little over $24,000 with a manual transmission, and the DSG automatic adds about $900. A fully optioned 2.0 Turbo, with the Sunroof, Sound & Navigation package, will reach $31,000. Convertible models open at just under $26,000 and top out close to $32,000. The new-for-2013 TDI runs from around $24,000 to $27,000. 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 2013 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 Beetle Lover on Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Funnest car ever!!"
Cons: "Backseat a little uncomfortable for passengers."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I get more looks and compliments on this car! It is a showstopper everywhere I go heads turn! Funnest car ever!"
11 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By Whales on Friday, June 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Adorable, Roomy in Front"
Cons: "no: arm rest, backseat lights, power seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"My beetle is fun to drive. It has an optional sports gear when I need to move fast. I love the new exterior look and the vehicle has never had any mechanical issues. Overall, I'm happy with my purchase, despite a few interior items I feel my beetle needs but doesn't have. My beetle needs an arm rest and interior lighting for the center and back of the vehicle. The indoor lights only light the front and everything else is pitch dark at night. The other two items I would really like to have are power seats and control buttons on the steering wheel."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Josie on Thursday, June 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,950overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "cute car"
Cons: "can't think of one now."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It has performed well for around the town drive - to and from work - it all kinds of weather.The back seats are useless since it is a very tight and uncomfortable ride for a passenger. However for my use it serves its purpose - a ide to and from work."
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By BEE on Saturday, May 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,100overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice looking car"
Cons: "Fuel economy, performance, reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is my second time having a VW Beetle. The first one was a 1998 Bug which was a very unreliable car. It had the well known window problems, air conditioning and heater core had to be replaced and at 60K the head gasket cracked. That was the worse car I have ever owned. After that experience I told myself that I would never buy a VW again, well that all changed fourteen years later when the new 2012 beetles arrived. I was thinking that after all of these years the quality and reliability of the VW beetle should have improved. So, I decided to give VW another try, which was a bad mistake. The performance of the car is pretty underwhelming in that it is sluggish and has considerable turbo lag. Further, the fuel economy is poor around 23-26 mpg on premium fuel (turbo model). Poor quality in material, lots of cheap plastics and fabrics in the interior. You would think paying 24k for a car that the interior would have some type of leather covering. The front seats are not holding up well, the seat cushion has pretty much worn away. Therefore when I am driving I am pretty much sitting on the seat frame. Reliability is poor, the blower motor for the heater/ air conditioner failed at 3k miles. Presently, the blower motor for the AC/Heater decided to stop working again so I have an appointment to take the car back to the dealership for the same problem! I have owned this car for one year and it has under 30K miles and it has been in the shop twice. I hate to think about how reliable this car will be in a couple more years."
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Three S on Thursday, April 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "TDI mileage, fun to drive, convertible enjoyment"
Cons: "auto windows sticking in winter, rear visibility"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have the TDI convertible with 6 speed manual transmission. After 10,000 I have had no major problems, it continues to run very well. The only problems I have experienced: 1) The auto windows getting stuck. The windows automatically go down a 1/2 inch when you go to open the door. When the temp first dropped below freezing and there was frost, these would freeze and you couldn't open the doors, then you'd have to reset the power windows. The dealer sprayed some silicon lube on the window seals and that seems to take care of it. But probably need to do that before every cold season. 2) Rear visibility is poor. I knew this going in, you have to be very careful backing out of the driveway, parking spots, changing lanes. Rely more on the side mirrors, and I'm considering an after market reverse camera. 3)There are a few more small paint chips on the hood than I would expect after 8 months and 10,000 miles. Could be all the salt during a harsh winter getting thrown off the road, but I'm keeping an eye on it. Otherwise it is a fun car to drive, but more fun in the warm weather with the top down. The top drops ridiculously fast, I even "raced" the top against a friend's BMW 1 series convertible, and it was much faster. You can put it down while moving up to 30mph too which is nice. Never had a car with Bluetooth either, that is a feature I'm hooked on. Initial acceleration is pretty good, mileage is up around 45mpg on the highway. As a guy, I'm getting less people making fun of it and more people liking it than I expected too."
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Sparty1 on Wednesday, April 09, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: ""peppy" drivetrain"
Cons: "uncomfortable, along with poor visibility"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"This review is based on a 7-day rental. My car was in the shop for repairs required by a parking lot hit and run. I was assigned a 2013 Volkswagen Beetle as a loaner for the duration. The VW had 2.5L 5-cyl engine with a 6-spd auto. The drive train was OK. Enough power, but it did not deliver it smoothly. It torqued up quickly, but unevenly - with a lot of noise. The ride and handling were OK but not particularly impressive. The interior was cramped and uncomfortable, and the visibility - both front and rear - was horrible. If you think this car is "cute" and that's all that matters, go ahead and buy it. I think VW builds a quality product (I have owned 4 of them - in the distant past). However, a VW Golf might be a much more practical choice. As I drove my 2009 Accord (with 58,000 miles) home from the shop, it felt like I was driving a brand new car - in comparison. Better ride, handling, visibility, comfort - and it was much quieter. Shop wisely. "Cute" can only take you so far."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful