Few cars are as iconic as the Volkswagen Beetle. The original version of the VW Beetle was manufactured between 1938 and 2003. The original version was a fixture of American culture during the 1960’s and 1970’s and often associated with the hippie movement and surf culture. Driving through coastal Southern California today, you will see classic VW Beetles as well as VW vans with surfboards in tow.
The modern reincarnation of this classic appeared for the 1998 model year. The current 2014 VW Beetle expands on the new Beetle concept in a way that appeals to a wider audience. From the exterior, you notice that the car is slightly more aggressive than its predecessor without losing what I call the happiness factor (you can’t see a VW Beetle and not help but smile). From the interior, there are separate gauges for the turbo boost, a timer, and oil temperature that underscore that this Beetle is something more. Even the steering wheel has a flat bottom. This would make Kevin Bacon proud. It’s hard to drive this car and not think about Kevin Bacon and the classic VW Beetle he drove in the movie Footloose.
The VW Beetle that I tested was a 2014 VW Beetle TDI, meaning this bug runs on diesel. If you have read my reviews in the past, you’ll know that I have been singing the praises of the new generation of turbo diesels that have made their way to US shores. Diesel engines, while down on horsepower, have plenty of torque. The VW Beetle TDI has a 2.0L Turbo 4 cylinder engine good for 140 horsepower and 236 lb. ft. of torque. The car has plenty of giddy-up when called upon. Most importantly, the VW Beetle TDI is one efficient bug. The EPA rates the car at 29 mpg city and 39 mpg highway (automatic), 32 combined. In real world testing, I exceeded these numbers. For example, on the freeway, I hit 46.1 mpg en-route to Newport Beach. Point to point on that same trip, the final number was 45.7 mpg, well above EPA estimates. Overall, in mixed driving with a slight lead foot, combined fuel economy was 35 mpg. Depending on your driving habits, one tank of diesel will net you 500 miles or slightly more. Not bad at all!
Spending a week in a VW Beetle TDI puts you in a state of mind. With mild temperatures and great surf, it was time to hit the beach. Time to listen to some reggae tunes on the SiriusXM equipped audio system to set the mood! At the end of the day, you realize you’re relaxed, the fuel gauge has barely moved, and oh wait, come to think of it….the VW Beetle TDI is one efficient beach cruiser. The toffee brown metallic paint was unique and definitely set the car apart from the crowd. Over the course of the week, I did notice on several occasions how wide the C-pillar is when reversing out of certain parking spaces. That being said, no car is ever perfect.
The VW Beetle TDI starts at $24,595 and is real easy to live with. It corners reasonably well and has enough giddy-up for most drivers when needed. More than a few onlookers during the week inquired into the VW Beetle TDI. They were blown away when I mentioned the fuel economy. The VW Beetle is an iconic car no matter which era, now thanks to the diesel engine, it’s a more efficient icon that is sure to draw attention and reward you for many years.