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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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 the Beetle
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.
INTERIOR LAYOUT 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.
WHEELS 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.
2014 Volkswagen Beetle Details
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.
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.
Under the Hood
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.
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.
"The Classic looks drew our attention, but the included features at a price below other Beetles and most competitors made purchasing our Classic an easy choice. Without adding a "dime", you get automatic, navigation, leather steering wheel with handy on wheel controls, heated seats and mirrors, rear spoiler and more all for the base price. The 1.8 Turbo paired with the 6 speed automatic is quick and efficient. Our MPG for the first 600 miles is holding right at 31.6 with combined highway and in town driving. Go for it; you won't regret your choice!"
Pros: "Fun to drive, handles great, great looking"
Cons: "no power seats?!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I pretend I'm driving a ferrari when I'm driving in Sport... it handles great and really picks up, not to mention how slick the Turbo R-Line looks. My only complaint.... no power seats?! Absolute only complaint. It's great."