An icon reinvented for modern times, the latest iteration of the Volkswagen Beetle is about delivering fun and character at an affordable price tag. Reborn in 2012 and riding on the same platform as the Volkswagen Jetta, it remains the antidote to the average compact car. Though the latest version may not be as cute as the original New Beetle of the ‘90s, it is an altogether more practical car with more rear-seat headroom and a bigger trunk.
2016 sees a handful of key changes, as Volkswagen reorganizes the Beetle portfolio. The performance-oriented Sportline with the GTI’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, sport-tuned suspension, and six-speed transmissions has been dropped, as has the 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder due to the ongoing stop-sale. That’s left the sole powertrain configuration as a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that develops 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Buyers can choose between a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. With the former, the Beetle consumes just 9.5 L/100 km city and 6.5 L/100 km highway of regular unleaded.
Last year’s Classic limited-edition now becomes a fixture in the lineup, slotting between the Trendline and the Comfortline. Colours are limited to Black and White. Bigger news is the introduction of the Beetle Dune, which offers a 10-mm raised ride height, wider tracks and silver-painted body cladding for a semi off-road look. The Dune is also available in a unique Sandstorm Yellow pearl, and comes exclusively with the six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the forthcoming Golf-based All-Track Sportwagon, 4Matic all-wheel drive is not available.
Elsewhere, the Beetle receives a brand new line of infotainment systems. The base Comfortline receives a 5.0-inch touchscreen with CD player, SD card slot, and reverse camera, but loses its USB port (it’s now an option). All others receive a 6.3-inch touchscreen display with the new AppConnect which features USB ports, Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Three new colours join the pallet: Silk Blue, Habanero Orange, and Dark Bronze.
Despite these adjustments, Volkswagen has managed to keep the cost of the Beetle down. Despite offering considerable amount more space and performance, prices start at $19,998, which makes it less expensive than other “icons” the Mini Cooper ($21,490) and the Fiat 500 Pop with air conditioning ($20,295). The range-topping Dune sells for $26,990.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed